If you have ever wanted to start your own online business, or have been looking for a way to make money online, or simply wondered if there was any way to earn some extra cash without quitting your day job, but have been put off by the task of starting from scratch, because you were afraid of what to expect, and were unsure of how to do so.
In this guide, I will explain what to expect when you are trying to make money online. The right way!
(TL:DR) | FAQ
Having an online business can help you build an additional income, which can support your lifestyle, or whatever your reason for wanting to start one might be.
But first, let me help you clarify this if you also believed there was free money online.
The following are some myths beginners are told about making money online
Myth #1 – Lots of money is online, so all you have to do is show up
The online space has been hailed as the ultimate way to get wealthy fast by some so-called online business experts.
Many would have you believe that the money in the online space is already there waiting for the bold minded entrepreneurs like you, and all you need to do is show up to get your portion of it.
This makes me LOL!
Hear this for free! No Free Money Online!
Indeed, you can do this ideally, because of the liberty of opportunities online. But unless you gain the necessary business skills you will waste considerable time and money on products offered by some so-called online marketing gurus. Please Beware!
Myth #2 – Marketing gurus claim it is easy to make money online
It’s not quite true! Particularly if you are a newbie with limited or no marketing and lead generation experience!
To earn money online, you’ll need to create a real business and an online business strategy, that solves the pain points of your target market.
- Provide your ideal customer with lots of value, more of what solution he is looking for.
- Then you master the art of solving the problem (also known as content marketing or content creation /presentation) or how to lure your target customer to the company that sells the solution that solves the pain point (also known as affiliate products/marketing),
- And in exchange for your efforts, you can start earning money (commision on sales).
Making money online or starting a business online involves these principles.
Let’s look at the main steps to starting an online business from scratch.
STEP 1- Learn the basics of starting a business (online or offline)
If you have some skills or specialized knowledge, you have a very good chance of starting your own business.
Business setup is an essential procedure before starting a new business. Several steps have to be taken for a business to be considered legal under the laws of your country.
As a beginner, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
#1 Come up with a business idea.
Consider a business that has a high demand, low cost, and high profit.
#2 Decide what your business will be called.
Check out this great startup resource, My favourite tools are their business name generator and the business plan generator. Try to check the name generator tool out, It will give you a list of potential names.
The name you select for your business should be both original and not just a trend of the moment, and it should not be a name that you will become bored with after a short time since you want to create a brand. Choose a name you will still like 10 years from now.
#3 Register your business name.
Check with your local business registration office. In Nigeria, it is known as the Corporate Affairs Commission. Learn more about the CAC in Nigeria Here.
Business Registration Types
Generally, there are 4 ways to register a business, regardless of the type of business or your business structure.
- A sole proprietorship – also known as a sole proprietor business registration.
A single person owns a company under this form of business ownership. Popular because it is easy to register and run, but it does not protect the individual who owns the company.
- In a partnership, two or more individuals (business partners) form a partnership to conduct a business legally.
Partnerships are registered in the same way as sole proprietorships. As partners in a partnership, you are responsible for the business’s debts and obligations. You will also share responsibility for the acts of other partners and employees.
- A limited liability company (LLC) means that a business is registered as a separate legal entity from its owners and can act like one. If you own an LLC, you are not personally liable for any debts or obligations the company incurs.
Here are some differences between registering a sole proprietorship or partnership and an LLC:
- A higher registration fee is charged for LLCs than for sole proprietorships or partnerships (this varies by state/country).
- In addition to that, you need the services of a lawyer or business adviser to fill out your registration, share, and tax forms, but you can get things sorted out much faster through sole proprietorship and partnership.
- Incorporation– A corporation is similar to a limited liability company in that the company has greater liability limits than whether it is a partnership or sole proprietorship.
Those are the four business registration types. Any of these four business registration types will enable a perfect business legal structure setup.
Although the approach to business registration could vary between states and countries. Visit the official site for your state’s business registration for the most up-to-date information.
Some Benefits of Business Registration
- This helps differentiate your brand from the competition– once you have decided what name you’ll trade under, it’s advised to register this name, so you don’t have to worry about someone else claiming the name.
- Business bank account– this is another benefit for registering your business from the very beginning, as this enables you to give customers your company account number for transactions, this also increases the trust level to do business with you. It makes you look very reputable.
- Reputation with customers– customers would naturally be more at ease doing business with your company especially when the business deal is high because your business is registered with the government
Check out the full guide on Registering your business as a company in Nigeria
STEP 2- Brainstorm a Few Good Ideas for your Online Business
To build a successful online business, you must first recognize that it shares many similarities with one set up in a physical store (brick & mortar).
To be very clear, without customer patronage, both ventures would fail, and prematurely.
Whether you’re launching your business online or offline, you must identify a need that people desire to solve and then make your offers to meet that need.
Let me ask…I was wondering if you have made any recent purchases?
The item could be anything you have been putting aside to buy for yourself for a long time or a gift for your child – I mean anything at all.
Please what propelled you to buy from the store or seller you visited, whether offline or online?
Here are my thoughts…
- The store likely had what you were looking for.
- It’s something that you need to fix very badly (a pain point).
- Then you decide on the brand/store you finally bought from, after looking at a few options.
Correct? Please let me know in the comments section below!
The process is very similar to one of starting your business online.
If you want people to be interested in your product or service, you must do extensive research and narrow down what your target market wants.
So do your research!
Have you thought about your online business idea yet? Read on to see how to choose a winning business idea online
How to pick the perfect business idea
Let’s get real here, there is no perfect business idea.
The only business idea that appears perfect either from the moment of conception or after some time has passed running the business, is one that has been fine-tuned deliberately.
To decide on a business idea to pursue, it must meet the needs of potential customers. This is where most new online business owners make mistakes.
Having said that, I want to make it clear that your online business won’t be desirable to everyone on the web (the same applies offline), so it’s not important how many people you want to serve on the web from your business. The most important thing is to make sure at least one consumer in every 10 can relate to your niche- this is your target market.
There is a possibility that people who cherish flowers, be it for home decor, events planning, or naturalists, would be attracted to your business if it revolves around repairing broken flower pots.
Do people often break their flower pots? Research is mandatory when considering an online business idea.
As another example, consider a business that sells a way to keep your mobile phone from being stolen at least for the next five years straight–guaranteed!
OMG! This sounds like a possible and realistic offer that will, at the very least, get most mobile phone users to pay attention to your marketing messages! The offer is relatable, so it will likely catch their attention.
Already thinking of some crazy ideas?
Okay, let’s move on to the next strategies for launching your business online.
STEP 3- Validate your online business idea
Once you decide that you should start a business online and have an idea in mind, you will need to validate your business idea by doing a market analysis.
There are different ways you can employ to test or better understand the market you want to serve. Such as surveys, questioners, focus groups (Facebook, Quora, Linkedin etc), and usability tests to determine whether your product is worth pursuing.
The simplest way to do this is to chat directly with people- family, friends and potential customers, especially those that you intend the product for, got it?
Knowing their true needs can help you quickly determine whether they will be interested in your solution (i.e. your product or service). You can then tailor your offer to fit their expectations.
You want to know:
1. If your products or solutions address the problem you are trying to solve
2. Find out where or who they go to for solutions if that problem type occurs.
3. Get an idea of how much it costs to resolve the problem.
4. Depending on how much you plan to charge for your product, you may be able to find out if they will be willing to pay what you expect.
DOWNLOAD A FREE SAMPLE CHEAT SHEET TO VALIDATE YOUR NEWEST ONLINE PRODUCT IDEABeginners Services Timeline Small
STEP 4- Create a business plan
Not sure what a business plan is? A business plan is a document that states what your company will do, how it will do it and how much it will cost to get started. It’s a roadmap to where you’re going. It helps you focus on your business.
You should write a plan for your business. In this plan, you should include:
- Your business idea
- Company description
- Mission statement
- Market feasibility research
- SWOT analysis
- Competitive Analysis (Know what your competitors are doing in your market.)
- Financial statement (cash flow projection, expenses, sales tax, break-even analysis etc)
It is best to hire a professional accountant to help you with the financial statement.
- Marketing strategy to reach your business goals.
Not sure how to put your business idea into a business plan?
No problem. You have several options:
- With a lean business plan, you can make a one-page plan in 30 to 45 minutes rather than a 12-page plan that takes several weeks to complete. Writing a Lean Plan will enable you to focus on the essentials while making the process faster and easier.
Here’s a free Lean Planning template for you to use.
You can also choose to type your lean business plan directly into the online lean canvas tool and download it later after you have finished. The tool can be found here.
- Hire a Business Plan Developer at a fee.
- Use these Free resources HERE and even HERE to develop it yourself. (Keep this in mind, you will need a financial auditor to help you prepare your commercial financial statements, in case you want to pitch your business idea to prospective investors.)
Why is writing your business plan so important?
Having a business plan is a crucial step in starting a business. It helps you to know what to do and to prioritize your goals.
Having a business plan helps you better define your business idea, assess your potential for success, evaluate the potential market and risks, and get support from others.
Starting a business online is a great way to reach potential customers all over the world. The problem is that it is also a great way to get lost in the crowd of other businesses that are trying to do the same thing.
Every online business should have a marketing strategy. Having a reliable marketing strategy is crucial to a successful online business. You cannot ignore this.
The question is how do you do it?
The answer is, you need to know how to do it. And how do you know how to do it? You need to learn how to do it.
And how do you learn how to do it?
You could take a course that teaches you how to do it or hire an experienced marketing person (s) to do it for you initially, while you negotiate being taught the process if you enjoy doing your marketing.
To increase traffic to a website, various marketing strategies can be employed, including blogging, social media, and pay-per-click advertising.
However, the problem with these strategies is that they cost money and time to implement properly.
How to get customers to buy from you online?
It takes a great marketing plan to get your products out there and into the hands of those who need them.
Many people are hesitant to trust their money with a new business operating online. However, this is a problem that can easily be overcome.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to treat your startup business as if it were a large, established business. You want to make your customers feel comfortable and trust you.
Your goal is to let them know that they will be a part of a great community and that you will be available to answer their questions. You need to ensure your customers know you are here to support them.
This is crucial to establishing the trust you need to sell online.
To promote your online business, you should know that you need a lot of people to visit your site, make purchases, and return repeatedly.
To achieve this predictably, you should consider implementing the following marketing strategies:
- Online marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing.
Driving traffic to your website and online sales channel.
There are two major ways to get traffic to your eCommerce store or landing page offers.
1. Free traffic-This strategy is more commonly referred to as search engine marketing. You create a series of blog posts or upload videos that address the needs of your customer segment, and when they search about the topic on Google or Youtube if the content is well optimized and highly ranked, you will most likely get free traffic to your website (an SEO strategy).
However, you may need to wait a few months before you begin seeing your posts on the first pages of Google search results. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a long-term marketing strategy, therefore it requires careful planning and execution.
Social media platforms like Ticktock, Facebook, Instagram, etc., can provide you with this exposure, but consistency is necessary for you to enjoy a level of constant traffic. To see results, you have to be consistent.
2. (Paid) Traffic – You can use paid traffic to increase visitors to your business website, increase your online point of sales, increase your website rank on search engines, and get more traffic to your website.
When you need to get immediate feedback from your target audience on anything, this is the way to go. Just watch the traffic flock to your landing page (AKA website) once you turn on your paid advertising.
Starting with Facebook ads and Google ads is a good way to get started with online advertising.
For your business to be found online you need search engine marketing, and paid search is a great way to gain exposure for your website.
Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, it’s important to hit the nail on the head right from the start, avoiding endless cycles of error and overwhelm (information overload).
My previous attempts at building offline businesses to make more money have not been successful until I resolved to follow these listed steps before I began seeing some results.
Do not ignore them!
To conclude, let me assume that you are already earning a living in some way. But like most people, you are also seeking to increase your earnings.
Here are a few reasons why we all want to earn more money:
1. To cover all or at least part of basic needs- food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and health care.
2. To invest in some financial goals.
3. To pay for something we want for ourselves or our children.
4. To enjoy life and have more comfort
5. Prevent financial crises that may lead to depression, stress, or pressure.
6. To be able to fund a lifestyle we love and the cause we care about.
7. To build businesses we’ve always wanted.
I am curious what exactly is your reason for desiring additional income?
Please tell me in the comments below.