Getting Started With an Online Business Idea

In the past, creating a new business to generate extra income involved setting up a ‘bricks and mortar’ outlet with stock, rent, staff and all the other associated business headaches. Now, with the internet, setting up your own work from home business is much more efficient.

In this current economy more people are starting to look at different ways that they can earn some extra income. All too many of us are working longer hours and earning less money than we did a few years ago.

The fall and decline of some of the high street names has made some people think that the whole business world is collapsing. But, for an online business idea, the digital world of the internet, business is booming! The “digital economy”, is showing a trend of people shifting their focus to creating their own businesses online instead of working for someone else in a ‘traditional business’.

When it comes to an online business idea, one of the easiest and most profitable methods is through affiliate marketing. This is because becoming an affiliate marketer requires no experience, no stock and simple promotional techniques that will convert prospective buyers into customers.

It is quite a simple online business idea – you promote products and services of other vendors and when they are sold, you make a commission.

It takes some basic things to be successful at affiliate marketing:

  • Staying focused.
  • Picking a niche product to start with and then getting started.
  • Making a schedule and then sticking to it.
  • Be willing to learn how to successfully implement your online business idea into reality

Where do you start with your online business idea?

One place to start is ClickBank, which is like an warehouse retailer of digital products. With over 10,000 digital products, it is one of the premier affiliate networks. It is easy to use, easy to join, and there are products in many different markets. You will certainly find a product that you would like to promote here.

In order to earn commissions, all you need to do is create an account with an affiliate ID, find a product that you want to promote and create a link that you can send customers to.

When they click on your link, it will record your commissions when they buy the product.

When you are working on your online business idea and looking at ClickBank, you will see a few references to each of the products.

Sale Price: This is the amount that affiliates are earning for referring customers.

Percentage of Sale: This is the average percentage commissions earned per affiliate per sale.

Gravity of Product: The gravity number is important because it shows the popularity of the product over time. Every time the product is sold or a new affiliate joins and uses the link, the gravity of the program will change. When you are starting out with affiliate marketing on ClickBank, ideally you want the gravity rating for the product that you want to promote to be between 20 and 100. If it is more than 100, it means that is a lot of competition selling this product. If it is less than 20, it means that there is not a lot of interest in the product.

So, now you have found your products for your online business idea, you need to go out into the marketplace and find people to buy them.

I will discuss how to do this in another article.

If you are considering an online business idea, consider this: ComScore.com, a leader in measuring the digital world, reported that the holiday season online retail spending for 2012 was a 16-percent increase over 2011.

This includes November 26 (aka Cyber Monday) which became the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.4 billion.

This surge of billions and billions of online spending being transferred from brick and mortar stores to the internet has created an incredible opportunity for those have an online business idea.

What To Do With Business Cards

In a small city like Asheville, NC, meeting people through networking events is one of the very best ways to get a strong foothold in your community. Networking events give you the opportunity to meet a large amount of other local entrepreneurs in a small amount of time.

By giving yourself a goal of pursuing 3 new contacts that you schedule to meet outside of the event, you can further your relationship with pivotal businesses and expand your personal network. Taking notes on the back of business cards when you are meeting someone will help you remember topics you discussed and provide more information for follow-up contacts with them. If you have something in common, such as knowing the same person, or having a love of the same sports team, write this down on their card for future reference.

Along the same vein, it is imperative to remember that the information you provide on your business card must be clear. You should have the name of your business, your name with title and credentials, your contact information, and your website URL. If your business name is at all vague about the type of service or goods that you provide, you should not make it a guessing game for your new contacts. Use a telling tag-line or a visual guide on your business card to enhance your business’ positioning. Contact information on your business card should include a phone number and an email address. Be sure to put your website URL on your business card. Most people will look to your presence on the web prior to deciding whether or not to further their relationship with you and your business.

Brimming with business cards, you return from a mega-network meeting and wonder what to do with all of them. Truly, you will not want to toss these gems of information into the trash! Take some time to organize and glean the information that you’ve harvested from the event and use it to help grow your business.

Step 1: Digitize

Create a spreadsheet (or a word document if you prefer) and enter all of the contact information from each of the business cards you have received. Include: Name of Business, Contact Name, Email Address, Website and Phone Number. You may also want to include an “info” section beside each of your contacts to jot down personal information for your reference (such as which networking event you both met each other).

Step 2: Separate

Separate the business cards you’ve collected from the networking event into 2 piles: those you want to follow-up with an invitation for coffee, and other contacts for future reference.

Step 3: 1:1 Follow-Up

Contact those precious few folks that you really want to develop a relationship with and set up another time to see each other face to face.

Step 4: Organize

Organizing your email lists will enable you to become more efficient when delivering information to targeted audiences. Email lists can be divided into such categories as by Meeting Event/Date, Business Genre, Colleagues & Close Acquaintances, etc.

Step 5: Newsletter Email Follow-Up

Whether you are going to include all of your email contacts or specify certain groups, create an informational newsletter about what’s new in your business, trends in the industry, and useful tips that you want to share with your community. Be sure to provide your contact information in the email.

*IMPORTANT* When you email a group of people, you must provide an opportunity for them to ‘unsubscribe’ to your newsletter. MyNewsletterBuilder and ConstantContact are two professional options to consider that enable ‘unsubscribe’ buttons. (MyNewsletterBuilder is local to Asheville- I’ve been using them for years!)

Retired From The Military – Want to Start a New Business?

Not long ago, I met a gentleman from the military and he was getting out after 30 years, he was retiring, and a friend of his at the coffee shop asked him what he was going to do with the rest of his life. You see he is only 45 years old. He explained that he wanted to start a new business, and he was going to school learning accounting and various other things so we could run the business properly. He explained that he had a friend that owns some land zoned agricultural and he would like to help them produce olive oil. The land is fertile, and there are about 20 acres.

Interestingly enough, I know a little bit about the industry, so I entered a conversation about this topic, only to find it he didn’t know anything about olive oil, the market for the product, and that he was concentrating right now learning the business side of things. Nevertheless, he had semi-committed himself to working the land for his friend, as they would be going into some sort of a partnership. All well and good I thought, but he had already started the process, chosen the business model, even though he didn’t know a thing about business, and absolutely nothing about the olive oil industry.

As a former franchisor we had many franchisees which were former military, and they did make very good franchisees, they followed directions, and were generally more successful than the others. But running a franchise business where you have a business plan which is already working for other people in other places, and plugging yourself into the system is much different than starting a business from scratch that you know nothing about, and will have to learn as you go.

Worse, I felt bad because the individual was going to use some of his retirement to borrow money to start this business, to buy the trees, buy some equipment, and start farming. When he was younger he did grow up in a farming town, but his parents were not farmers. The type of business you choose is extremely important, having business knowledge is also very important, but most of all having experience is the key. I have no doubt that this gentleman will make it work somehow, but he may find himself in an industry which is not too hospitable, and quite challenging and super competitive.

There may not be the room for the level of success he expects, nor should he get his hopes up, or assume that he will get a return on his investment after spending most of his nest egg and all the money he saved. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.