So you know you want to start an online business. But you’re not sure where to start. In fact, you have no idea how to start.
First off, congratulations!
Starting an online business is the best way to be an entrepreneur in this day and age. And when you sell information instead of physical products (more on that in a moment), there are even more advantages:
• It’s cheap – you can start almost for free.
• Thanks to the availability of easy-to-use software and online tools, you don’t have to be a tech geek to make it work. In fact, if you can surf the web and send email, you pretty much have the skills you need to start an online business.
• The profit margins are huge.
• You can base your business around stuff you enjoy – so any “work” you have to do seems more like a hobby.
• You’ll live life on your own terms and not have to answer to anybody.
• You get none of the hassle of a bricks and mortar business like employees, utility bills, rent, the need to warehouse stock…
• Plus you won’t need to risk your current job or income to start your online business. You simply work in your off hours until you’re making enough money that you can tell your boss, “See ya later!”
So how do you start?
To start an online business all you need is your ideas.
You have some ideas, right? Maybe that “dream” business or product idea that’s been in your head for years – but you’ve just never found the time to develop. If so, great – today, we’ll make sure your idea will work as an online business and make money.
If not, no worries! I’m going to show you how to come up with ideas – profitable ideas – upon which to base your online business.
In other words, today you’re going to pick your niche. It’s the first step to developing an online business that can provide you with a steady passive income of six to seven figures.
There is some “hard” work at the beginning when you’re setting up. But soon, you’ll put a few hours a week to keep things moving… but mostly your business will run itself. That’ll leave you with plenty of time to indulge in travel, your favorite pastimes, or spend time with your family.
Another reason you’re in luck is that online businesses are still thriving, even in today’s economy.
Ecommerce – another word for Internet business – is a $223 billion industry in the United States alone. It’s projected to grow to nearly $350 billion by 2014.
And this growth is being driven by individual entrepreneurs starting small online businesses that provide them with a great living. These are everyday people without much knowledge or previous experience in marketing, business, technology, or the Internet. They just had the desire to make their lives better.
Many of these new small Internet businesses are in the information side of things. By that I mean they sell digital products, like ebooks, audio and video downloads, CDs, DVDs, or even access to membership websites. What’s on these products is simply information, or advice, on niche topics.
It could be a how-to guide for dog training. Advice for vacation planning to Disney World. An ebook on stock trading for beginners. Really the sky is the limit as far as what your information-based online business can be about.
These types of products are cheap and easy to create – you can even do it yourself. But if you’re going to make money you have to pick a profitable niche – a topic that people will pay for advice and information about.
Let’s find out how to do that now.
Take Action Now – Picking Your Niche in 3 Easy Steps
Now we’re going to go through the process of coming up with ideas for your business, something you’re passionate about or have an interest in – but can still make money. This will make your business seem less like work and more like a hobby.
1. Brainstorm Business Ideas
First we’re going to brainstorm some possible ideas to base your business on. If you already have a “dream” business in mind, go through the exercise anyway as it might inspire you to try something different.
Think about your hobbies, interests, things you know a lot about, topics that people ask your advice on.
Come up with a list of 4-5. Write them down.
2. Real-World Market Research
Now pick your favorite of the topics you’ve brainstormed. We’re going do some simple market research to determine if this niche has profit potential.
First, we’ll look for real-world proof that a business based on this idea could work. We do this by scoping out the competition. If there are a lot of other businesses and companies in the same niche – that’s a good thing. It means there are a lot of customers out there interested in products and services in this niche.
Let’s use dog training as an example. But you can substitute your own business idea and follow along.
Look at your town and local area. Are there a lot of dog trainers within a 20-mile radius? Do local bookstores carry many dog training books? You can find information in your Yellow Pages, online, and just by driving around. For this example, I found about 20+ dog trainers within 20 miles of my home. There is a market for this service! If you find a similar level of businesses related to your niche your area, you’re ready for the next step.
3. Online Market Research
Now we need to see if there are online businesses selling information on dog training. You can do this with a simple Google search of keywords related to the niche. In this case I would search for “dog training,” “dog behavior,” “dog trainers,” and “dog obedience,” for example.
You can use Google’s free Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) to check out keywords related to your business idea.
Enter your first keyword and the Tool will show you how much website traffic is sent to sites related to that and other similar keywords. Website traffic translates into sales for online businesses.
“Dog training,” for example, had 1.5 million searches per month and “dog obedience training” had 110,000. That alone is enough to convince me that this niche has great profit potential. Dog training is a worldwide phenomenon and a ton of people are seeking advice and information on this topic.
Not every niche will reach 1.5 million searches. But if your business idea brings in at least hundreds of thousands or several tens of thousands searches per month you’re set. I wouldn’t recommend going into any niche without at least 30,000 searches.
If your first idea didn’t pan out this way, don’t worry. Just try it with the other niches you’ve brainstormed.
Now you may be wondering… “If there is all that competition, how will my business be successful?”
As I said before, competition is a good thing. Successful businesses in the same niche = profit potential for you as there are a ton of customers.
Once you have the niche for your business, the next step is to figure out what to sell. And we’ll tackle that in a future essay. For now, concentrate on brainstorming business ideas and doing the market research to determine if it has profit potential.
P.S. There are a lot of great online tools out there to help you research the profit potential of your business idea… and even come up with killer ideas in the first place.
Keyword and Website Traffic Research
Google’s free Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal)
Yellowpages.com – for your “real-world” search
Google.com – yes, even a plain old Google search will show you how much interest there is for a particular topic. And be sure to visit the websites that come up to see how they approach the business. It’ll come in handy as you create your own venture.
If you need some help coming up with some killer business ideas, check out these resources on brainstorming your new business niche: