Starting an Online Business: Your Big Idea

Starting an Online Business: Your Big Idea

First let’s admit that we have so many ideas or no ideas, either way it’s definitely the hardest part about getting started.  How can I pick something that will work for me?  Follow these 5 steps below and you will be well on way to starting your online business today.

 Your Big Idea

There are so many ideas that you have that could be turned into a business, the prospects are infinite.  The challenge is reducing those ideas down to one that you are completely happy with. Don’t try to pick the cheapest or most profitable, because you will be living and breathing this idea for a long time, so you must love it and have a profound interest in it, no matter what it is.  The more you love this idea, the more likely it will be a success and you will enjoy spending time working on it. Since the theme here is free, the best online business idea will incorporate skill and resources that you currently have at your disposal.  If you already have a skill or ability to create something, then the less time and money you will need to invest in learning a new skill or buying resources.

So here it’s the first thing you need to do: Make a list of every single idea, skill or resource that you have at your disposal that you could potentially make money selling online.  Although you can sell any and everything online, there is only 4 ways to sell online, that should help you not put and limit on the number of ideas you come up with. Just put all the ideas down on a piece of paper or in a journal, you must exhaust all possibilities. Then after you complete your list, go back and filter out the ideas that may require additional time, money, or help from others.  At this point you should have a workable list of ideas that you will do research on to determine if it’s the best fit for you.

Research the items on your list by searching for those business online and seeing who pops up at the top of the search.  These are your competitors, see what they are doing right, wrong, the same, different.  Is there something that they are offering in terms of product, service or cost that you can do better, different or is there a market that they are serving or reaching that you could.  You must factor in time and money, remember time = money.  If you are working full time will this require you to take time off from work or will you be able to do this in your free time.  Will you have to purchase products, software, tools etc, or can you manage to handle this with no additional cost to you. For example, if you sell knit hats, will you spend more than you would make from selling these hats online?  Take your time, work through your list document this, I have attached a worksheet that might help.  Save this, you may need to come back to this list if after you go through the next step it proves that the idea you selected may not be ideal for you now.  Don’t forget, there is nothing wrong with having multiple sites or streams of income.

 Determine Who You Wants Your Big Idea

Interest, passion, skill and resources are all important to consider when selecting an idea for your online business.  However, if no one is interested in your idea then nothing else matters.  So that’s why it’s so important to determine if there is a want or a need for your product or service, this is the concept of demand.  You’ve all hear about supply and demand, well demand must exceed supply to be successful in business.  So, the next step is determining demand for your product or service and you may wonder how to do that.  Well when trying to determine online demand there are a couple quick research things you can do: customer profile, keyword search and market research.

Customer Profile

Before you can determine a demand for your product, you should determine who your ideal customer would be. Once you can define who you are looking for then you will have a better idea of how to attract that customer to your product or service.  Instead of trying to tell you I have attached a worksheet to help you work through your ideal customer and an example of a business and its ideal customer so you get the idea of how to complete the worksheet.

Keyword Research

In case you’ve heard the term but not exactly sure what it means, checkout the Moz.com definition of keyword.  Simply put these are the words or phrases that are used by your potential customers put into search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to find information, services or products that you are selling.  You will need to determine how you want to be found on the search engines and knowing your keywords will help you to do just that. Do you solely rely on search engines to bring business to your site? No, however they can also be used as hashtags (#) or in your content of your website and most important ensuring that you have enough people searching for your idea to make it a worthwhile idea.

The next step, make a list of all the words and phrases people would use to find your business. The nice thing about keywords is that you can create them yourself based on how you want someone to find you or what you want your business to be known for.  So for example, if you are tax preparer, you can use such keywords as: tax preparation, tax accountant, tax preparer. You can add to that the year, the location, type (business/personal), the list could go on forever. Now that you that you have your list, you need to find out how often this is being searched online.  Now there are a lot of tools you can use however I am going to recommend two:  AdWords, which is always free, Google Trends and the other tool SEO Book Keyword Search Tool. Both will require you set up an account for free, but it’s worth the time and they both have other tools that will prove useful to you later. You enter your term or phrases and will tell you how many times its searched on major search engines each month and provide you with related keywords that you can add to your list.

On the worksheet I provided, the last section is for listing the keywords along with the number of times searched to help you in your research and decision-making process.  You will know you have found the keywords and phrases that work for your online business ideas is when you find a keyword that has a combination of the highest volume (popularity) and the fewest results returned in search (competitiveness).

Market Research

Please don’t hate me for saying this BUT, just because a term has a log of search, it doesn’t mean it’s a viable business idea.  Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it has a market that is willing to pay for it.  I mean who doesn’t think a Bentley is a beautiful car and currently searching it online, but how many people are going to buy that Bentley, chances are very few. So, you need to do some research to determine if this business idea is capable of being done or in a word: Feasible.  That brings us to what you should be doing next which is a feasibility study, this will allow you to see the strengths and weaknesses in your idea, the opportunities, the resources needed and ultimately if your idea will be a success.

Instead of trying to drag you through exampling how to put it together, I have created a worksheet for you to use and a sample completed worksheet for you to use to complete it.  The nice part of about completing this spreadsheet is much of this will assist with completing a business plan if you choose to get more serious about your online business.

 Select an Online Business

Are you having a hard time selecting the business that’s right for you? Not sure if the business you selected is right for you? Well you’ve come to the right place. Many people are considering starting a business and the ideas and possibilities are endless. You have hobbies, interests and then your actual profession and they are always the same.

So how do you decide? How do you even begin to narrow it down? Do you have to narrow it down? What’s holding you back?

There are just a few questions, but there are a lot questions that you have and need to answer for yourself.  The answers need to be clear and concise, leaving no room for debate in your mind.  You need to walk into this situation with absolute certainty.

We have created a questionnaire that will help you evaluate your business idea and decide if it’s worth the time, money and effort you plan on putting into the venture. Once you have evaluated the idea and feel confident you are ready to move forward. Download this free worksheet to analyze more the business idea that’ at the top of your list.

Deciding on the business that you want is the first liberating step you take on your path to entrepreneurship.  Not to be taken lightly so please be sure to further analyze and scrutinize your ideas.

I would love to see your comments below with your business ideas and quiz results. Share your ah-a moments, share other quizzes you have taken or add to the conversation.

Do your research this quiz is designed to give you the confidence to move forward in the process and not a substitute for in-depth analysis and research to ensure you are making the right decision and taking the proper next steps.

  • Before you start analysis create a list of all the business ideas you have. They could be hobbies, interests, your current profession, things you always wanted to do, things you thought you would like to do but couldn’t possibly do. WRITE IT DOWN.
  • Next let’s just get it out of the way up front: What’s holding you back? What is your fear? What do you think you are lacking? Put all your fears, doubts and concerns here.

Questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if your big idea is ideal for an online business

  1. How passionate are you about this idea?
  2. Is this something that you would enjoy doing the next 5-10 years?
  3. Is there an idea or ideas that you can combine or complement with this?
  4. Will this make enough money to satisfy your financial goals?
  5. Are you good at this?
  6. If not how confident that you can become good at this or have someone a way that you can get this done?
  7. Is there demand for this? Do people want this?
  8. Is this solving a problem?
  9. Can I afford to start this business? This includes money and time
  10. Can I identify my competition? Is it tough?
  11. Can I differentiate from my competition? How different am I from my competition?
  12. Do I have the resources available to me to start?
  13. Am I willing to sacrifice?
  14. Do you have thick skin?
  15. Do you have what it takes? (money, energy, knowledge, skill, determination, drive)
  16. Do you handle setbacks well?
  17. Do you have an inventive or entrepreneurial spirit?
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