Creating your first online business: where to start

As in so many other areas of life, the decision of which online business to start has to be made by you. The only thing I can do for you is to give you a roadmap so that you know the different stages you have ahead of you, and some small tips based on my experience to help you on your way.

These are the steps I would follow if I had to start from scratch tomorrow on the Internet.

1. Define your ideal lifestyle and goals

The ultimate goal of any business – both online and offline – is to help you achieve your ideal lifestyle. That’s why the most important thing of all (and something many people unfortunately forget) is to know what you want.

What would you like your life to be like in 1-2 years? How much do you need to earn to pay for all that?

In my case I wanted to travel the world as a backpacker, and for that I needed a business that was as passive as possible and that generated 1,000 – 1,500 euros per month. BuyEbookYa.com met those requirements. Then I realized that I also wanted to do something that would allow me to share what I had learned over the years, learn to write better, have a positive impact on other people, meet interesting people and create a platform for the future. With that idea in mind I started Living Life to the Fullest.

But not everyone is looking for the same thing. Maybe you want to earn 300,000 euros to buy a Ferrari. Or your dream is to live in Thailand quietly and without worries, and you don’t feel like having to interact with the visitors of your platform or answering their e-mails. In that case a blog like mine would not be the best option.

Remember: if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never know if you’ve reached your destination. The biggest mistake you can make is to break your horns to create an online business, and when you finally “succeed” you will realize that it is not what you wanted and that you have become a slave of your own creation.

Actions:

  • Do the “your ideal life” exercise that I explain in point #3 of this post
  • Make a list of the goals you want to achieve with your online business. One of them should be monetary (make enough money to finance your ideal life)

2. Choose a compatible business model

Once you are clear about your ideal lifestyle, the next step is to find the type of business that will allow you to make it a reality.

In addition to your monetary potential, it is important to consider your personal skills and preferences. Ideally, to attract your customers and communicate with them, choose a model that uses a channel you like and are good at, because that is the real heart of your business (not your digital platform).

Are you a master of letters? Start your own blog, collaborate with others or publish ebooks.

Do you feel like a fish in water in front of a camera? Then videos are your thing.

Do you have an analytical mind and don’t mind performing mechanical tasks? You might be a good SEO or an advertising campaign cracker.

Although in the end all the tasks can be outsourced, the idea is that you create an online business that makes the most of your strengths and is fun for you. If you hate writing with all your heart, don’t start a blog just because everyone else does! 

Actions:

  • Choose an online business model compatible with your ideal lifestyle and goals that makes the most of your personal strengths and tastes
  • Explain in a couple of paragraphs how this business model will help you achieve your goals

3. Learn what you need

Right now you probably don’t have all the skills or know how to use all the tools you need to create your online business, but it’s okay because you can learn.

Start by searching on Google and YouTube. You’ll find free tutorials on any topic you can think of. In some cases it is also worth investing in paid material, as long as it comes from someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve and applies their own teachings. Look for the number 1 in what you want to learn and buy his book, and if you are convinced by what you read consider signing up for one of his courses. The best information is usually in English, so if you know this language you will have an advantage.

Don’t get frustrated if everything takes a long time and seems difficult at first. As a Computer Engineer, it took me several months to understand HTML and CSS and feel comfortable with WordPress. I still remember the first weeks, when it took me 3 hours to change a button… But, although it doesn’t seem like it, little by little you get better and what took you 3 hours the first time then takes you only 1 and then 5 minutes. Patience.

Actions:

  • Make a list of the skills and tools you need in your online business and look for free or paid material to learn them. In the previous posts of the series you have some links that will be useful
  • Whatever you do, you’ll need some basic knowledge of WordPress, and if possible, of HTML and CSS as well. Make sure they’re on your list

4. Let luck find you

Few people will tell you this, but to be successful in any business and especially on the Internet you have to have a little luck (soon I will write a full post about the role luck plays in our lives).

Sometimes, luck means making the right choice at the right time. For example, there was a time when Facebook fan pages worked very well because they had a lot of reach. I know people who made thousands of euros from them, and if you had started a fanpage business at that time you would have done very well too. Then Facebook cut off the tap and, although you can still use them, it’s not the same. Many times the difference between success and failure is simply a matter of timing; of crossing paths with the goose that lays the golden eggs when they are still golden and under-exploited.

Other times luck comes in the form of chance: you are lucky enough to find a lucrative niche without having much idea of what you are doing, the planets align and Google shows your page in first position for a good keyword, or an influential person shares your article and overnight you get thousands of visitors. I’ve experienced all three.

Yes, chance influences more than many want to acknowledge, and since it’s something you can’t control it’s best to ally yourself with it and try many different things until one of them “explodes”. So I challenge you to what:

  • Write 500 posts and none of them are good
  • You create 10 info-products and none of them are sold
  • You publish 40 ebooks on Amazon and none of them succeed
  • Start 50 affiliate pages and you can’t live on commissions
  • Record 100 interviews and nobody listens to your podcast

Usually when something works you’ll notice it quickly. The key is to detect it and redirect all your efforts in that direction.

Actions:

  • Get to work. In the beginning try many different things within the business model you have chosen. If after 2 months of work you see that your page, your ebook or a certain type of post has not just taken off and that the numbers are not improving, it is time to try something different. When you find out that something works, just do more of it.

Conclusions

Throughout this 5-post series you’ve learned that…

  • The Internet is not a magic pill or the philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold, but a platform that offers some very interesting advantages when it comes to setting up a business
  • Passive income is not an unattainable utopia, but not all passive online businesses generate passive income. In fact, most online businesses are not passive (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing)
  • The secret of passivity is to create automatable systems
  • All online businesses have three fundamental components: a digital platform, a traffic source and an offer
  • There are different variants of each of these three components, which can be combined in different ways to create profitable business models

Although I haven’t told you exactly what business to start (because every case is unique and there are no universal recipes), I’ve given you a roadmap and the necessary resources to choose the option that best suits you and get you started on your own. I hope it’s enough to make starting your business easier after reading this series.

I hope that all this information will be useful to you to make a living on the Internet and be a little freer and happier, which in the end is what it’s all about.