How to Find Money Online: An Internet-Based Capital Guide for Entrepreneurs
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Vetting all of your niche options involves a lot of research. There are plenty of niches out there to pursue. For example, if I discovered too much competition within the makeup physical products niche, I could consider becoming a freelance writer on the topic or perhaps selling online tutorial courses. The possibilities when creating an online business are endless!
Like we said above, the intersection of passion and profitability is where you want to be. The process of validating your business idea through simple solution testing is called creating a minimal viable product MVP. The purpose of an MVP is not to test technical feasibility, but rather to see if your idea would solve a problem people would pay for.
Why spend time and money on creating a minimal viable product? Imagine if you created your product with 10 features that you simply assumed would be valuable to your customers. Then, you brought your product to market without testing and found that your customers only used and paid for two of those 10 features. You just wasted precious time and effort on eight offerings that provide no value or interest to your customers.
When you build an MVP, you find out exactly what your customers desire before you put work into a polished product. You also get priceless feedback that could help you make future product or business decisions. Building an MVP allows you to validate your idea before going to the trouble and expense of production, hiring, advertising, and other business-building investments. Defining your target audience is critical when building a business.
Building an MVP allows you to gain valuable feedback as soon as possible. Ideally, your MVP will pave the way for many, many purchases. Those customers who show first interest are considered your early adopters and can become great resources as you grow and scale your company. Typically visionaries and trendsetters, early adopters can be your most loyal customers, as they see value in your business idea and will always provide strong feedback.
Heck, they might even become future team members or investors. A minimal viable product is all about testing your hypothesis and validating your idea for market fit. An MVP will help you validate your business and have confidence moving into the marketplace. Here are a few simple, inexpensive, and efficient ways to build and test your MVP.
Landing pages are the simplest and most straightforward way to test a business idea. Simply put, this is a standalone website you can draw people to that has one solitary purpose, often to capture leads. With tools like Lander , Ucraft , or LeadPages , you can create a simple landing page for almost nothing. On your page, include your best copy outlining the benefits of your product or service.
Share your landing page in forums, communities, and social media, and set up Google AdWords. And nothing speaks louder than a click-through. Fundraising sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide new businesses a chance to test and validate their ideas by collecting pledges before having to create product. While designed as fundraising tools, these platforms are essentially collections of MVPs, where market interest is measured by consumer pledges.
Validating your idea through crowdfunding offers a few unique benefits.
Startup Costs: How Much Cash Will You Need?
First, it can give you access to a group of highly interested and actively involved early adopters, who will have a stake in the success of your product. These folks can be valuable as you look to scale your business idea. Second, it allows you to measure and collect support before having to produce a single product. Successful campaigns typically involve compelling narratives and copy, effective demo videos, and compelling rewards that encourage support.
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But if you reach your crowdfunding goal, you can consider your idea validated. They can also provide feedback that goes deeper than a click-through and speaks louder than a crowdfund pledge. Talking to people is a fantastic way to validate your idea. One easy way to connect with others is by following the Google Usability Cafe model.
Here are some questions you could ask:. These interviews can be a gold mine of actionable feedback, especially if some of your subjects fall into your target audience. Another method of gathering live feedback is by dun, dun, dun… cold calling! Most entrepreneurs struggle with this step because rejection and humiliation can be scary.
A great tool to use while making sales calls is a sales sheet.
In essence, this document is a simple letter explaining who you are, what you do, how much it costs, and how to get started. According to Gabe Arnold, who used this method to start his company Copywriter Today check out his full process here , you should also include a few key points in your sales sheet:. Drafting a sales letter can also help you break the ice with potential customers. If you hate the dreaded cold call, consider using an introductory script. Arnold uses a simple script like this:.
If you receive overwhelming positive feedback or possible sales! There are many moving parts involved, and getting the ball rolling is often a major barrier for new entrepreneurs. Believe it or not, so many entrepreneurs find themselves completely stumped by this one seemingly simple step toward creating their online business. In the grand scheme of things, your business name may seem trivial.
Your name will be searched, tagged, trademarked, typed, misspelled, and spoken aloud, so it needs to be good. What do we mean by good? Start by considering your type of business. Are you an independent contractor, distributor, retailer, blogger, or subscription service? What phrases, words, or terms would resonate with your target audience? Remember that your business name will be the first impression you make on a majority of your consumers. The best brand names are between five and 10 characters.
This makes it easy on you when marketing and promoting, and on your consumers when searching and sharing. Most common names are taken if not trademarked. Take Foundr, for example. Using a common stylization e. Your chosen name will need to be branded and transformed into a relevant icon and logo. Do you have a vision of the perfect design or icon for your business? Perhaps you can start there and work backwards into the perfect name.
As you brainstorm, list a few possibilities. For an online business, your identity must extend beyond a compelling name into a strong, recognizable brand. What do we mean by brand? Building these assets from the start is important as they will help bolster your advertising, create a more coherent website, social media, and ecommerce experience, and inspire beautiful packaging and paperwork if your business calls for such. As a small business, you can more than afford to build a great brand. Graphic design tools like Canva and Snappa can help out most novices.
But we still need an address where people can find us. When it comes to setting up shop, your website will vary based on your type of business. The first step to creating a website is securing a domain name. You want your customers to find your website without a hitch, and your URL is the key. Ideally, you would capture a. Thankfully, there are other URL extensions available besides. You can purchase a domain independently through Hover or GoDaddy , or you can buy one as part of your website purchase on WordPress or Squarespace.
While these all provide storage for your web content, they differ in the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and reliability. VPS hosting gives you root server access and a more secure environment but is more expensive. Dedicated hosting gives you the most server control, but is very pricey and requires IT knowledge. If this is your first online business, a good rule of thumb is to start small with a shared hosting account. You can always upgrade to a VPS or dedicated hosting as you scale your business and website.
We recommend WordPress or GoDaddy for hosting options. When creating your actual website, there are a ton of different options. Your choice will depend on your niche and how you want to set up your business. WordPress makes it easy to design and manage your own website while also providing tools for Ecommerce SEO , readability testing, content management, and various plugins. These range from from the cheap and easy options like Shopify through to the more advanced like Magento.
Before deciding on a website service, consider things like how many pages you need or what merchant services provider you want to use. Where do they spend time online? What content resonates with them as consumers? What online communities are they active in? Next, evaluate your business offering. What social media format best fits the content you want to share? For example, a blog may thrive with text on Twitter, whereas a fashion retailer may have better luck sharing photography on Pinterest or Instagram.
From there, if you think you can provide valuable content and can connect with your audience, go ahead and create profiles on Pinterest and YouTube. We will talk about Instagram later. Finally, evaluate your niche. There may be social networks that cater specifically to businesses and consumers in your industry.
For example, a fashion ecommerce business with plenty of product images would surely do well on Instagram. For a business that offers professional resume-writing services, it would be worth creating a profile and sharing content on LinkedIn. A freelance designer would benefit from a profile on Behance or Dribbble , as those networks cater to graphic designers and artists.
These databases provide the widest range of options for suppliers and manufacturers. There are a few different order fulfillment options , including drop-shopping, direct fulfillment, and 3PL. Do your research before moving forward with any manufacturing or fulfillment decisions. In a previous chapter, we discussed affiliate marketing as a niche-evaluation strategy. Affiliate marketing is also a way to earn extra income by promoting other products and services.
With decent traffic, high-quality content, and a defined niche, your online business could make a good amount of passive income with affiliate marketing. Tracking and measuring activity and traffic of your online business is actually pretty easy, thanks to a wealth of services available, many for free, on the internet.
Your assigned Tracking ID will help you keep an eye on everything from real-time site activity to audience behavior to acquisition sources. This is one of the most important steps to starting an online business, as your analytics and audience will give you insight into marketing, design, copy, and ecommerce strategy.
Not so much. Getting your first few hundred sales will be far from easy. The answer to this question will determine whether or not your resources for marketing your online business will be well-spent or wasted. Defining your target audience will determine almost all of the business, product, and marketing decisions you make.
Start here, then dig deeper:. Next, take this information and apply it to your business decisions to ensure that your marketing is as impactful as possible. Every marketing strategy should hinge upon your audience to maximize your resources and ultimately get your first sale. Social media is a great place to come face-to-face with consumers and boost your brand awareness. But simply creating profiles is not enough.
Consistently sharing high-value content and engaging on social media is a surefire way to become known among your audience and convert your social media followers to real leads. At its core, your social media profiles should tell a story — about your brand, your product, your team, or your mission. If you want to learn and apply the exact strategies Foundr used to amass over one million followers on Instagram, check out our Instagram Domination course. The key to engaging your social media community is consistency. An active and engaged brand will be much more successful than one who hardly posts on social media.
And as an online business, your social media will act as an extension of your customer service and care. Your networks can help you build loyalty as you build your brand. Social media is also an excellent place to experiment with and invest in paid advertising. Facebook makes it incredibly simple to advertise on both their platform and Instagram — two networks on which your business should be active. For a small budget, you can get a piece of sponsored content in front of thousands.
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This small investment can expose your brand to new audiences and help you gain you new likes, followers, and customers. Despite the rise of social media marketing, email is not obsolete. Email marketing will very likely help you get your first sale. You can leverage email to market your online business in a few ways. Start with building your list. Building a quality email list happens slowly, so be patient as you create content and work your funnels. What email marketing platform should you use? This depends on your technical know-how and budget.
For a new online business, we suggest MailChimp, which is free for under 2, subscribers. Also, there are some other free options for starters. As you grow your email list, stay in touch with your subscribers. Beyond the requested content offers and introductory email, be sure to announce new product or service updates, share exciting sales or events, and release a routine email newsletter. Converting your email list leads into customers will only happen with consistent, useful content.
Content marketing and inbound marketing have skyrocketed in effectiveness and popularity among online businesses. Creating exceptional content tells your audience that you want to educate, inform, and equip them as much or more than you want to sell to them. It also tells your story and draws in organic traffic. To dive into the world of content, just start a blog for your online business. This will give you a platform to share articles and announcements that resonate with your audience.
This will inspire ideas for evergreen content, guides, infographics, and videos. Show that there are real people behind your brand. While Webvan and others have failed to make grocery delivery work on a large scale, there is a market for small timers, as evidenced by the many shopping services that are online now.
To make delivery affordable for the customer and efficient enough for you to make a decent profit, you may have to service a very limited area. You might start by approaching elderly residents in a housing complex, promising delivery just two days per week in order to process as many orders as you can at once.
To keep payment processing simple, get a PayPal card reader , which attaches to your smartphone. PayPal takes just 2. An errand service can be a natural business to tie into grocery delivery, or vice versa. People often need someone to check on their dog at home, or run to the store if they are homebound. To start with almost no cost, and to get a feel for what kind of work the business might involve, sign up with TaskRabbit. This eliminates the need to spend money on marketing yourself at least at first. You might discover a particular niche that suits you and is profitable.
For example, if you get a lot of calls to bring pets to vet appointments, you might reposition yourself as a pet taxi service. You can learn how to mix any one of thousands of drinks with a free online cocktail guide , but to get hired as a freelance bartender it helps to have real experience. You might volunteer to tend bar for charity events — a good way to get experience and market yourself to potential paying clients. On the other hand, you can get an idea of skills needed online from the television personality and dog whisperer, Cesar Milan.
There are also many dog training tutorials on YouTube. You can start the business at home to keep costs low. Pet owners can bring their dogs there as well as anyplace else. To build your reputation offer, to train the dogs of friends for free or at a discount, and be sure to get testimonials to put on your eventual website. What makes drop shipping so attractive is exactly what lands it on this list; there are no big startup costs or expensive investments in inventory. You can sell products online, collect payment, pay suppliers, and let them send out the products — even using your company logo if you like.
A website is one way to make sales, although not the only way. You can also sell on auction sites like eBay. In particular, they need to tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook in order to raise awareness of their companies and promote their products. You may already know how to use these and many other social media platforms. Learn a little more with online tutorials on how to become a social media consultant.
Then contact everyone you know to see if they need this valuable service. Scaling up will require hiring others at some point, so you can focus on getting new clients. If you have a phone, a computer, and Internet access, you can be a virtual assistant VA. The work can be very different with each client, but may include preparing reports, researching, editing, social media management, appointment-setting and many other services. Of course, to make it into more than a decent freelance income, your goal will have to be to hire others at some point.
Copper and aluminum are the most valuable of the common metals, and almost every community has one or more scrap metal buyers. You can find all the advice you need in an online scrap metal discussion forum. How big can you grow a business like this? Start anyhow!
Once you have a few customers who value your knowledge more than a fancy presentation, you can spend some of your profits to build a more professional organization. You can service the high-end, doing very unique logos, or provide low-cost designs that start from templates and are modified to suit the client.
One of the easiest ways to get started is on Fiverr. A look at the stats for the logo designers there shows the size of the market. The top rated logo designer has over 6, customer reviews. Find that first sale with little or no capital investment and then use the profit to expand. Do you have a low-cost startup story to share? Painter Photo via Shutterstock. If you have a specialized skill set and expertise in an emerging area internet marketing is a great example there are opportunities aplenty to start your own business.
Do you have a kindle or e-book to share how you build your business from the beginning to now and some of the mistakes you did that we can learn from. This means that anyone can go into business as long as he or she has the passion for it. Money is rarely an issue. I think you should include web design business as well. The used books business is A LOT tougher than was made to seem here. Not for the faint of heart, the weak of back or the impatient. On the other hand, the financial risk is pretty low for all of them. However, the amount of TIME that needs to be invested in running a business is substantial.
Great post! Thanks Oak, and I agree that many of these are for when you have a lot more time than money. We put in a lot of time at least initially starting our internet publishing business. In fact, you can often substitute time for money in many ways when starting. Aquarium maintenance service is also good one if you know about fish and aquariums. A good offshoot to starting a house cleaning service is home and office organizing.
You do not have to be certified, however. Starting as a house cleaner will definitely give you an inroad as there is more demand in terms of volume and helps with regular cash flow. Offering pre-paid discounted packages with a contract and taking deposits from 1st time clients helps to keep problems away. Hi Luna — I am interested in learning more about a home organizer startup and am wondering where to get certified.
Can you email me to let me know…… thanks very much. I have my own cleaning business but finding it hard with so many cleaners out there can you give me some advise. Hi Luna I would love to learn more about becoming an hone organizer. Kindly send info. Thank you all for this great knowledge and wisdom! My Twitter handle is tlb79thereal…. Public speaking is another way to go.
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If you have expertise in a subject s you can sell that expertise. Getting paid speaking engagements is the hard part. Hello Nicholas I would very much like to learn about public speaking sir. You can set up an eBay business and sell for others on consignment without spending a cent. There are plenty of people and businesses who find it hard to make the time to sell their unwanted items or simply do not have time.
An eBay trading assistant does all the hard work and as a fee you earn commission on sales. I have been unemployed for the past 4 years and recently my father passed away. I am 42 years old and have one child in college and another at home. I cannot believe I am in this place financially, as I have worked my entire life until I lost my lat job. I cannot find one. Love your post and advice. Your son in college has nothing to do with your present situation.
Your child at home is your singular issue. You worked your entire life? Or enjoy the time with your child at home while on public assistance. But stay sharp and be ready! Many people endure personal problems that you will never understand. Life is a lot more than work for all the best years of your life to retire with enough money to buy a good recliner,tv,cable ,intranet ,food,forget insurance because who would want a broken system to aid in keeping you alive by stealing your hard earned life savings letting you be a spectator wishing you did what you wanted as a young person and not believed in medicoraty that was shoved down your throat your whole life initaly accepting it all as just the way things are.
Many of them say that they are in America, but have a two week shipping time. My goal is to create a website. This questions is for Steve. Did you have to worry about a domain name when you created your website? Any recommendation on creating a website? Rahal and his business partner, Jared Smith, scratched their own itch. For example, Rahal kept re-mixing his recipes until they tasted incredible.
Using what you create can be a game-changer. But a startup has so many moving parts that founders can quickly become detached from their original mission. Use it, consume it, order it, and dig into the details. It also keeps the team no matter how small on its toes. Additionally, If the startup was built to scratch your own itch , there are always more opportunities to extend the solution. Ask yourself:. What would make this solution more valuable — both to current and potential customers? Very few problems in life are tackled once and solved forever. They need to evolve with needs, culture and markets.
When you keep mining the problem and the solution , it can keep the business fresh and vibrant. Sonny and Cher. Bert and Ernie. Calvin and Hobbes. Thelma and Louise. Apple, for example, paired the late, sales-savvy Steve Jobs with Steve Wozniak, who focused on technology. It makes sense.
Many founders also have a strong desire for freedom, which can quickly feel stifled when someone else weighs in on every detail. Ravikan makes a bold statement. Not everyone would agree that the partnership matters more than the product — or the market.
1. Start small.
But starting a business is a massive commitment. The right partnership is powerful. Working with the wrong person can feel heavy and frustrating at the very least and, in the worst case, it can destroy the business. Hire an experienced lawyer, if you go this route, and plan for everything: equity breakdown, vesting schedules, intellectual property, termination clauses, and more. Ensure that everyone is clear on the terms and feels fully protected, should the partnership go south.
Entrepreneurs who do trust themselves to go solo are often rewarded with the ultimate freedom. Spanx founder Sara Blakely, for example, built a global company without a co-founder or any outside investment. Entrepreneurs, of all people, should know that rules are meant to be broken.
So, partner up or stay solo, but do it on your terms, with your eyes wide open. Most startup experts worship at the altar of rapid expansion. Investors dream about rapid growth, too. They want to recover their money fast, so they often pressure companies to expand quickly. A hockey stick looks great on paper, but it typically requires the business to grow revenues first and figure out profits later.
That can put the company at risk. Bootstrappers take the opposite approach. They sort out profits first and stay focused on that key goal. Slow growth takes patience and a good dose of bravery. But slow growth can provide stability. It also enables founders to sleep well at night, spend time with the people they love, and create products that attract loyal, satisfied customers. Bootstrapping math is pretty simple: spend less than you earn and you can grow at your own pace. When we celebrate companies that raise millions and post huge vanity metrics, like user acquisitions, that math can seem almost too simple.
Glorifying hockey stick growth also implies that you can chase flashy numbers now and worry about profits later. Make decisions that keep your company in the black, right from day one. After all, a bootstrapped business needs to work, because there are no hefty bank deposits to fall back on. Newly-funded companies often face pressure to fill every seat — immediately.
Building the right team is essential. These are the people who will build and nurture the product. Caring about customers is good for business. VC-backed companies often start out with deep knowledge of their audience. If you believe that growth reigns supreme, then it will quickly become the primary focus.
Very few people are born knowing exactly how to lead — or to design, code, market, sell, and build. Aggressive growth can quickly highlight those knowledge gaps, which are totally okay. Most people launch businesses to create a smart solution, not because they want to run staff meetings. Growingly slowly enables you to learn alongside your team.
You can learn how to manage and motivate those people , too. Take your time and you can:. But bootstrapped companies ultimately answer to their customers, not to investors. Even criticism is great for business, because it pushes the team to stretch and innovate.
Never assume you know what customers want; you have to look at the data. Making a product change? Release it to a small group and establish a clear way to measure user reactions. Apply what you learn and test again. The numbers are clear: customer service matters deeply. Support teams do much more than resolve tickets and answer tedious questions; they have a massive effect on company growth. Bootstrapping is not a great way to get PR. And most self-funded entrepreneurs are too busy refining their product to worry about landing on magazine covers.
Well-funded startups that crash and burn often make headlines. With serious money often comes serious scrutiny. Big-time investments can supercharge the startup for better or worse , but slow growth can ensure you have a sane, happy personal life — even as you build a thriving business. Most people think success requires hour days.
Strategizing and planning. Taking a digital sabbath can also keep you feeling rested and ready to play the long game. On Saturday, Sunday or another day of your choice, avoid technology in all forms. For example, power down your laptop and place it safely out of sight. Shut off your smartphone and hide it in a drawer. Change your Netflix password — and then try to forget it.
Give your brain the gift of peace, and the time to reflect and generate new ideas. The title has now sold over 1. Founders are often hungry for success, but it takes time. Often, lots of time. A sustainable business model gives you the freedom to enjoy the ride. You can focus on building something you love, and that truly serves your customers, instead of racing toward empty growth targets. Either scenario has merit.
Business is personal, and we all need to make our own choices. Although some bootstrappers will eventually sell their firms, they rarely begin with this goal in mind. As I mentioned in Building my startup for 12 years: how to win the long game , you can retain your values, freedom and flexibility. You can learn from a slow-burning journey.