Let’s be real: If everyone had the opportunity to be their own boss, to set their own hours and do exactly what they wanted for a living then the world would be full of entrepreneurs. The difference, though, is that although it’s a nice dream, not everyone dares to pursue it — which is what makes you an exception. Running a business, no matter what kind, it takes a lot of guts and more courage than you probably knew you had. Whether you’re considering starting an online business or are in the infant stages of beginning one, think about what might be good to know before diving in headfirst with no idea how to swim.
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Have Some Basic Programming Knowledge
If the word “programming” makes you recoil in panic and sends flashbacks to the TRON movies, don’t be overwhelmed. Learning code is a useful skill and it’s easier than you might realize. So many different languages are available — Python, Java, HTML, and CSS, etc. If you’re scratching your head wondering what can you do with Python and other languages, consider small tasks that you can accomplish when you have some small programming knowledge:
- Automation and AI, which means that you can create mini-programs that can help you to learn more about your customer base. That means better, more effective marketing for you!
- Website development skills to help you tweak your own site and make changes as you need to. This can also save you money down the road from needing to hire a graphic designer.
- Computing and mathematical tasks can be made so much easier. Rather than sit there making computations in your phone’s calculator, you can refer to that nifty little program you wrote that helps to streamline these processes.
Be Realistic About Your Budget
It’s always safe to assume that your business will lose money in its first year. This is mostly expected and should not overly alarm you, but you need to understand what that means for you. Don’t blindly make sweeping financial decisions without thinking hard about where your money is actually going and whether or not it will benefit your business in the long run. Keep meticulous financial records and keep track of all your spending and income. Remember, sometimes you need to spend money to make money. It takes time for businesses to thrive.
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Know Your Audience
When you’re trying to sell to a group of people, you need to sell to them in a way that’s appropriate for their demographic. For example, if you wanted to reach a group of senior citizens would you blast ads all over Twitter? Likely not. Paint a mental picture in your mind of what your typical client would be like. Take into consideration things beyond age and gender that you might not have thought of before, like:
- Occupation and role in life. Are they students, working young adults, retired elders?
- Morals, values, what they consider important and who their role models are.
- Family status. This means parents or single adults, teenagers living at home or college freshmen.
Keep Tabs On Where You’re Being Spotted
In the excitement of having new clients, it can be such a rush that you don’t think to ask the all-important question: How did you hear about my business? If you think about it, this truly could be the most important piece of information to learn from clients. Once you find out where a steady stream of your client base is coming from, you can tailor your marketing strategy to focus on those high-traffic areas especially.
Remember: You’re Worth It
You might be a little gun shy and afraid to come off as greedy by charging a lot of money for your expenses. Keep in mind, though, that markup for labor and materials is a real thing in all businesses. Do some research online and see what kind of pricing is average in the line of work you’re doing if you’re unsure, but always be realistic in the way you price your items. You went into business for yourself to make money, and underselling your products or services will not get you anywhere. You already know you’re the best in your industry, prove it to the world…and charge appropriately for it.
Understand That Failure Is A Reality
With the surge of online stars like Youtubers and bloggers, it seems like online businesses are a great way to get rich quick and make money fast. Yes, some online personalities indeed make very good money for their craft, but these are usually the people who have worked their hearts out to get where they are today. Determination and striving to be the best in the industry are worth fighting for.
That being said, sometimes the stars don’t align exactly the way they should and your small business might fail. And you need to accept that that’s a reality. Nobody goes into business hoping that it’ll fail, but sometimes the odds are stacked against you and for whatever reason, you’re not in a profitable market. Accept that you might not be able to make enough money to stay afloat, and if that’s the case then you need to have a backup plan.
Knowing as much as you can about the people you want to sell to is an important value when you’re trying to start a business, but more important is knowing yourself and whether or not you have the drive to do this. Think about what life will look like 30, 60 and 90 days after starting your online business and see if you’re ready for it.
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Craig has worked as a business consultant and marketing manager for the past fifteen years. He has enjoyed success in helping other businesses thrive and in helping his company’s marketing team stay on track in their marketing efforts. He loves technology and everything business and strives to learn more every chance he can.