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Business Stage: Launching an Online Business (2022)
Every entrepreneur has their own unique path to success, but I’d argue that there are stages every business goes through on the road to massive growth.
For example, when you first decide you want to launch your own online business, it’s like you’ve just graduated high school and are about to start college. You know what you want out of life, but it’s really hard to figure out exactly how you’re going to get there.
This stage can be both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because you could literally do anything with your life! Terrifying because now you need to actually DO something with it…
I’d love to give you a bunch of tips on how to launch your business, but before I do, there’s something much more important I need to tell you. Are you ready?
Okay, here’s the deal.
Just because you have 200k followers and a gazillion dollars in the bank doesn’t mean you’ll be able to launch your business successfully. You might hit it big—you might not! But if you ask me, there are more important things to consider than just your following size or how many Benjamins you have in the bank.
That’s because the most important thing you can do to launch your online biz is to know who you’re talking to and why they should care about what you have to say.
Doing so will help guide every move you make as an entrepreneur: What’s your message? Why are you the best person to deliver it? Who cares enough to want to learn from you?
I’m giving this advice now because I’ve already failed at launching businesses before. I was guilty of thinking that just because I was promoting my services and products on social media, everyone would naturally follow me anywhere. Well, they didn’t. Then I thought writing some kickass blog posts would seal the deal. Still nothing.
After six months of little to no engagement, I realized I needed to go back to the drawing board and figure out who my ideal customer was so that I could more effectively reach them. After all, there are BILLIONS of people on social media — how would anyone ever know it was me they were looking for?
The good news is that after a bit of research and some soul searching, I figured out who I was trying to reach (busy young professionals), what they wanted (to quit their 9-to-5, financial freedom, and to add CEO to their business card), and why I was the person who could help them get there (duh, because I already had).
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, that all sounds easy enough, but where do I even start?” I’m with ya there—finding your ideal customer is definitely not a five-minute task. But if you want to make it simpler for yourself, check out my ideal customer avatar worksheet.
Once you have a clearer picture of who your ideal customer is, spend some time thinking about why they would care enough to buy from you. Hint: It’s probably not because you have a fat bank account or beautiful selfies. You need to dig deeper and figure out what unique value you can offer them. It could be something as simple as making their lives easier or teaching them a new skill, but it has to be meaningful enough to make them want to pay you for your services.
I know this process may seem scary and time-consuming at first, but trust me – the results are worth it.
If you’re here, I’m guessing you’ve already read my post on developing and researching your online business idea and you’re now ready to execute! If you haven’t, go ahead and check it out (seriously, you’ll thank me later).
You’ve done the hard work of finding your big idea, creating a business plan, developing your brand, establishing your website and social media profiles and now it’s time to open your doors to the world!
Opening your online biz will probably feel a little bit like going to college. You won’t have a clear idea of what classes you need to sign up for or teachers who can impart their wisdom on you, but if you stick with it and stay focused on your end goal, then eventually things will start to fall into place.
Before you get overwhelmed, I recommend starting small.
Start with just two social media platforms you want to focus on initially. You can always add more down the line, but it’s better to start slow than get lost in a sea of online messages!
Next, figure out what kind of content you want to post on each platform (photos, videos, etc.) and who your target audience is (you can always change this later too).
Once you’re thinking about how to best target your message to the right people on social media, spend some time developing a strategy for engaging with your ideal customers. Remember that they need to feel like they can trust you and that you actually want to hear from them.
Asking for input is a great way to gain some insight into what your customers need and care about, so make sure you give them something in return! This could be as simple as letting them know when you’ve posted new content or sharing their ideas with the world through your website.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of social media, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use these platforms to generate some cash flow.
Social media is a long game, so don’t expect your business to become profitable overnight because you keep adding new Instagram followers. However, if you can use social media to develop an engaged audience that trusts you and feels like they are part of your brand, then when the time is right (not before!) you’ll be able to turn them into customers by promoting products or services.
In the meantime, start thinking about how you can partner with other businesses to get your name out there in exchange for something in return, like free products or services in return for referral fees.
I’ll be honest—email marketing isn’t always the most efficient way of generating business, but it is extremely valuable when done correctly. Think about all that time you put into creating your company’s social media profiles and website. You wouldn’t want to throw all that away by ignoring your email list, right?
When you’re getting started with email marketing, there are a few things to think about:
Who is on your list? Make sure they opted in because when making this connection between you and them it has to be 100% clear that this is their decision.
What kind of content do they like best? Test the waters with a few different emails (video, text, etc.) to see what works!
How often will you email them? Will there be times when it’s radio silence on your end or will you stay engaged through daily/weekly/monthly emails?
Once you’ve established these basic guidelines, it’s time to start thinking about your e-commerce strategy. While an online store isn’t necessary to make money with email marketing, I highly recommend having one because it allows people who are already interested in your brand and products to purchase directly from your website without having to be redirected elsewhere.
You can also use an email marketing platform like Active Campaign (this is what I use) to automate the process of creating an email list and sending out emails.
I’ve talked about paid advertising before, but I wanted to touch on it again because it can be a powerful tool in your business arsenal.
So how do you use paid advertising to generate business? This is all about testing and playing with different ads to see what works best for your business. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to paid advertising campaigns. For example, the strategy that drove tons of traffic to my site back when I was writing a blog wasn’t what worked best when I started a podcast. And neither of those was the correct strategy for my newsletter or social media posts!
That’s why it’s so important to test different approaches and see what works. You could even create campaigns that promote multiple types of content (blogs, podcasts, etc.) to really increase your audience size and keep them engaged.
Like I mentioned before, paid advertising is all about testing different ads until you find the ones that are right for your business. But if you stick with it and really analyze your results, you’ll be able to make a detailed list of what works best for driving customers to your website or directly to products they can buy online.
I’m a huge fan of content marketing, which is basically just creating valuable content targeted at your audience and encouraging them to subscribe. In this case, the goal is to have people who are interested in your business give you an email address so that it can be used for sending emails or other promotional material. This way, when you have a new product or an upcoming sale, you can reach out to your list and let them know because odds are they’ll be interested!
Once someone subscribes, you want to make sure you’re sending relevant content to the people who signed up. People subscribed to get more information about what you do—give it to them!
For example, if you have a newsletter about how to create effective social media profiles, your earliest emails should focus on this topic and not be all sales-y. Once they’re subscribed and engaged, then you can start sending out promotional material.
Just remember that when it comes to content marketing, the most important rule is to be helpful. You want your subscribers to love being on your list because they receive quality information that’s relevant to what they signed up for!
I’m a big fan of asking for help and influencer marketing is all about leveraging the relationships you’ve established with other people to further your own business.
So who do you ask? There are two types of influencers: industry and niche. Industry influencers are more powerful because they have an audience that spans many different industries.
Niche influencers are more powerful because they have an audience that is interested in what your business does.
Influencers are the perfect way to get your products in front of new customers. By partnering with them, you can create a unique campaign that highlights their strengths and entices their audience to take action (and hopefully buy).
This strategy is all about making sure people know who you are, what you do, and why they should care. Because if you can get your name in front of lots of people who are interested in what you do, that increases your chances of getting new customers.
A mastermind is an online community where you discuss business with like-minded people. If you’re starting a new venture, it can be really helpful to hear (and give) advice from other entrepreneurs who are in the same boat as you.
The good news is that there are plenty of mastermind groups out there for all different types of businesses and there’s bound to be an option that will work for you. The bad news is that they can be expensive, so make sure you do your research and choose a mastermind group that will actually help you—not just cost a lot of money!
When I first started dabbling in online business, I was focused on trying to keep everything as cheap as possible. What I’ve learned over time is investing in your business actually saves you a ton of time and money in the long run. So, my advice is if you can afford it (don’t break your budget), to try it out and see if a mastermind group helps your business grow!
Blog Posts & SEO
Blog posts can be a great way to get people back to your website. Plus, they’re really easy to write after you’ve done all the research and pulled all the information together for your products!
To get started, just head over to Google Keyword Planner and type in keywords related to what you do. You can use any of these keywords in your blog and you’re bound to get some traffic (and hopefully sales) back to your website.
Just remember that the most important thing is to create high-quality content that people want to read! You don’t want them coming back for shallow reasons like a catchy headline—you want them coming back because they love what you have to say.
Once you’ve written your blog, make sure to promote it on your social media accounts. Just post a link to the blog when it’s published and once people see that you have interesting content, they’ll click around and hopefully share what you wrote with their friends!
The best part about blogging is that every time you write something good, it gets promoted and you get a backlink to your website! This is one of the best ways to increase your site’s search engine ranking.
Remember what we talked about before, search engines like Google like fresh content that looks like it was made for people—not for search engines (that means no keywords stuffed into every sentence).
And remember people are looking for information online, not sales pitches. So just casually talk to them—like you’re talking to your friends!
Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
This is one of the most important things to do in your business. You need to check in with yourself and make sure you don’t go in too many different directions at once.
Every time I buy a new course or gadget, my mind starts racing about ways I could use it in my business! But sometimes we get so excited we forget to actually implement the new tools.
So just make sure you keep your focus on what’s important—like marketing and reaching out to more people. Once those things are in place, you can move on to other tasks!
In some cases, there will be problems that need immediate attention (like a customer service problem or a product defect), but for the most part, you can leave your business alone until your next launch comes around.
The more you monitor, the less you have to worry about in the end!
Traffic and sales (and everything else) will come if you put out high-quality content and focus on building relationships with your customers. Of course, it’s going to take some time—you haven’t spent a ton of money on advertising or hired a huge staff. You’ve started something from scratch and you’re doing it all yourself!
So it’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint. But eventually, people will start coming back to your website and buying —and that’s going to feel so good!
Master Your Sales Funnel
When you first launch your business, it’s going to be a slow start. But as you make progress and put more time into the business, things will pick up speed!
The key is to keep working at building your online presence even when traffic isn’t coming in as fast as you’d like.
A sales funnel is basically a process that helps you convert as many people as possible into customers.
In the beginning, your sales funnel may look something like this:
- Someone finds your website for the first time
- Someone reads one of your posts
- They subscribe to get email updates from you!
- They read another post and share it on social media
- They get curious about what you’re offering, so they buy one of your products!
Once you have that process set up, try to push people along through the funnel faster. For example, once someone subscribes to receive updates from you via email, make sure to send them some good content regularly.
If you set things up right, eventually they’ll be reading your email updates every day and clicking over to buy your products whenever you mention them!
The most important part is to not give up before people have had a chance to read your content.
Your business is your creation, so it deserves some attention every day.
Pretty simple right? You just have to keep reminding people about what you do and how it will benefit them.
You need to use your sales funnel for everything you do—the key will be figuring out which products or services bring in the most money so you can focus on those!
This is my 5th year running an online business and I owe a lot of it to my willingness to try different strategies for promoting my work. And even though not all my ideas have paid off, I can say with certainty that sticking with it and testing different approaches has been the best way to get my business in front of new people.
So don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to promoting your work! No matter whether it’s paid advertising, content marketing, or influencer marketing—stick with it and figure out what works best for your business!
And don’t forget that the fun doesn’t stop after you launch your business! You’ll be constantly improving and updating products (hint: this is the next stage of building your online business), trying new things—and it’s all going to be exciting as you watch your company grow and develop.
That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
Keep up the great work and I’ll see you at the finish line!
This blog post was written with my AI writing assistant, Jasper
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