Steps to Create and Monetise a Million-Pound Online Business
Over the past few decades, the internet has gone from enjoyable fad to the governing force behind our lives, influencing how we consume media, shop and communicate. It’s also become the #1 choice for young and budding entrepreneurs.
An online business comes with less overhead expenditure and minimal, if any staff requirements. Unlike businesses of the past, the internet has allowed people to start their own business with nothing more than time investment. However, with the majority of business failing in the first 3 years, how can budding entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and be successful?
Just like everything else in life, you need to take the right road to reach your desired destination. In my experience, lot of new entrepreneurs are terrified about not being successful in their first venture. The truth is that whilst the odds are stacked against you, you need to treat every failure as a learning experience to turn your business into a million-pound juggernaut.
Here’s how some of the most successful online business-owners turned their hobby into a fully-fledged business. You can apply all these tips universally to offline businesses too.
- Choose A Service Or Product That Has A Large Enough Market
The very first step is to identify a product or service that’s most likely to appeal to others and has a large enough market reach. Based on an entrepreneur who started a law firm directory, we’ll look at the decisions he made, and how he made them.
Firstly, lawyers are always in high demand, but as a consumer, picking the right firm can be a technical minefield. With this in mind, our entrepreneur knew that law firms are an established market with a constant stream of potential customers to monetise.
Secondly, online branding and online marketing is still in its relative infancy in the legal industry. The market is growing consistently with no signs of slowing. Our example entrepreneur created his directory with the intention of building brands and online marketing for law firms, with an emphasis on customer journey and satisfaction.
By starting in a growing market, you’re significantly increasing your chances of building something that will bring monetary profits for a longer time, as well as allowing you to establish yourself as the industry “go-to”. I have observed that a lot of people try to start their online business with only short-term gains in mind. To be a winner, you should focus on building a business with long-term sustainability.
- Generate Something Unique
Building an online law firm directory probably isn’t going to win any innovation awards, but it is different enough to be individual. Your main focus should be creating an online community and content platform, giving your prospective customers a platform to publish content, which can be seen by industry peers and potential customers.
When you create any online business, you don’t have to reinvent everything, but you do need a USP (Unique Selling Point) and a way to provide some value to your clients that isn’t available to them currently.
- Identify Ways of Generating Money
There are dozens of ways to make money from an online business. You can sell your own services or products, re-sell others’ products/services, sell courses and information, sell advertisement space etc.
For an online directory, user experience is top priority. The last thing you want to do is at best distract, and at worst, annoy your visitors with pop-up offers and banner ads. You should ensure that your visitors are able to land on your website and quickly find the information they are looking for.
Choose a monetisation strategy that allows you to keep the website free from advertisement banners or offers, keeping your user experience streamlined. It will also provide several benefits for your target customer, which is crucial if you want to convert a large enough percentage to turn this into a million pound online business.
A lot of people get stuck on the monetisation component, and while it’s a piece of the puzzle, you need to keep in mind that it is also pivotal. Since the law firm directory was charging its clients (the law firms) for every customer that came through the site, it’s easy to see how the revenue stacked up.
- Draft Your Marketing and Advertising Plan
Your online business probably won’t take off without a concrete marketing and advertising plan. Whether you are using simple PR (Public Relations) strategies or launching an ad campaign on Facebook, you need to have a detailed plan in place.
For instance, in an online directory, a combination of email marketing and highly targeted digital ad buys can be useful. Automation is key here, allowing for minimal time investment, until needed.
While digital ad buys and email marketing will drive awareness, a content platform helps you get the word out.
- Seek Feedback Directly From Your Potential Customers
Launching a business online without any feedback from your target customer base is a bad move. You might have a fantastic idea, but a gut feeling doesn’t mean it’s a practical business model. Gathering feedback and constructive criticism from your target audience can help you launch a better product and avoid launching a failure.
- Get Out There
Even if you are still waiting for your website to be built, it’s time to get out there on social media. Start following people, putting up previews of what you will sell or what’s going on behind the scenes, and generate interest with regards to your brand. Respond to comments as much as possible so that people can see you are a keen start-up with lots going on.
- Plan Funds For Your Online Business
With online businesses, you may not need funding, but it definitely helps. You may require money for a number of reasons – for web design, advertising or additional third party marketing. However, you almost certainly don’t want to take a bank loan with high interest rates while your business is just starting. Also, if the profits are not generated in your initial year, it’s likely that your business may go downhill. Therefore, fund management for your business is critical to the success of your business.
A lot of entrepreneurs who have made millions through their online venture credit the use of alternative business finances such as invoice finance or cash flow finance from business funds providers as a key part of their success. Alternative business funds are a better option compared to bank loans as you can take the desired amount of money at a low interest rate and also have flexibility in paying it back. The business funds providers also offer funding products that help them to maintain a good cash flow in the times of lower profits.
- Launch With A Bang
Don’t just launch your website silently and wait for visitors to show up. You should shout it out from the rooftops! Start by posting about your new site on social media. Send out emails to your mailing list, and remember to inform your friends who would be interested and ask them to spread the word in any way they can. You can even get in touch with local newspapers or websites in your industry niche to ask them if they can feature your launch. Get the news out about your business launch in any way possible.
- Find Known Influencers
One of the secrets to success in the online sphere is support from influencers. These are the people with large social media followings whose recommendation is enough to drive huge sales. You may have to pay them for helping out, whether that be through discounts, money or gifts. Ask such influencers to post as much as possible about your brand to drive those visitors to your site or provide quality information that they’ll want to share.
- Be Consistent
If you have planned properly and prepared well, you won’t have a problem with your online business launch. Make sure your servers are sturdy enough to handle large amounts of traffic, and check every element of your website to ensure it works properly under pressure. Also ensure to respond to emails and social media comments in a timely manner to make sure you’re keeping customers happy.
- Analyse your performance and make changes if required
Figure out your best-selling product and how you can improve or create new lines in a similar manner. See which social network is giving you the most referrals, and figure out ways to leverage that further. What kinds of posts are most popular on your site and how can you create more like them.
The key to sustainable growth and success is to always keep growing and working as hard as you did during the launch.
It might not be easy to create a lucrative online business, but it can be done with a lot of determination and the right amount of luck. Proper planning is something we can’t stress enough, so be sure to follow these steps closely for a million-dollar smile and the money to boot.