Today, it is possible for all of us to create an online website and start earning money. With such attractive possibilities, there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t thought about it, creating a startup and making a fortune. After all, it sounds so easy.
Or at least, that’s how it sounded to me. The very first time I started researching online startups, I read a lot a lot of tips that seemed way too easy for me to miss out on the opportunity. Basically, I’d have to write some posts, schedule my content, choose a nice design for the site, and voila – I got myself a successful business.
But, when I spoke to some of my friends, those who have already been on this journey, I got very different stories. Two of them created the sites and invested some money into it, but they didn’t have the time to write as often as they should have, so the websites basically ended up empty and without visitors.
Then there were those friends who decided not to take the rough content writing road and invest all their savings into content. So, they hired some of the most professional writing services they could find and that was all they did. Their content was definitely great, but since they didn’t do anything else, their startups ended quite abruptly.
I took all of these experiences in and started digging deeper. You know, creating a site and forming an online business is easier than it’s ever been, but getting it off the ground and earning some money from it – not so much.
What I’ve learned was that there’s much more to a site than just content or spending a month creating some pages. It took me a lot of time to do proper analysis, planning, and earn the money to actually make this happen.
But, it did. And, oh my, how much it paid off for me. Here I am now, having a business that’s more successful than I planned for it, ready to share with you my story.
The Beginning: My Ideas
Everything starts with ideas. In the beginning, I had so many of them, I couldn’t find the best one. When you’re thinking of making an investment for a business, you try to think as clearly as possible.
After some brainstorming, I eliminated the ideas that were bad. After some more, I eliminated the ones that were not-so-bed. In the end, it all came down to an idea I had that I liked, but also had real chances of success.
The Downfalls: My Failures
You should be the luckiest person in the world to make a first startup and not fail at least once. It took me a couple of fails, many headaches, and a pretty decent amount of cash before I succeeded. I had market troubles, money troubles, even product troubles.
If you’re entering this world thinking that everything will run smoothly for you, you are in for a lot of disappointment.
Now, you should definitely be prepared to fail because it is inevitable. Nothing great in life comes easily. But, if you prepare yourself the best you can, plan and organize properly, and handle troubles like a pro – you are going to get your startup off the ground and running in no time.
To help you with all this, I’m ready to share the most important things I wished I knew before my very first try.
Steps I Recommend
Buckle up – I’ll now take you through the essential steps I wish someone shared with me before I tried to create a startup. It took me a while to learn this and build my startup off the ground, but with my help, you can do it much faster.
1. Start with a Plan
You’re now becoming an entrepreneur, so by plan, I mean a business plan. Have you ever done a business plan of any kind? If you haven’t, you can read up on it. Get professional help if you have to. All the future actions you’ll make when you start and work on your business will be based on this plan. That’s how important it is.
It all starts with a good business plan. With a good one, you can get a loan, grow your business, and even receive investment capital.
2. Find the Money
You can’t start a good business without the appropriate funding. If you thought you could start from scratch or invest a bit until you are sure, you aren’t really born to be an entrepreneur. To get a business off the ground, you need money.
How I got funding
This is what I’ve learned the hard way. I started from scratch with a good business idea, but without a good plan. As it turns out, a business plan isn’t just good in terms of a strategy for leading your business, but it can also boost your odds at securing funds for the business.
Once I learned this, I started working on my business plan. Apparently, those who have good business plans are more likely to get the attention of more investors. People want to learn what they’re investing in and, no matter how convincing or enthusiastic I was, they all rejected me without an actual plan to show.
There are a couple of things you can do to get funding for your business. I recommend doing them all to increase the odds of building your business from the ground up. Yes, it will take time and effort, but this is the strategy that helped me find the money:
Visit your banks, preferably the ones where you’re already a client and have some kind of a professional relationship. See if they are willing to give you a business loan. If not, you can get a personal credit to fund your new business. I decided not to go with this option unless I have to, so I moved on to the other choices.
Ask friends and family. You’d be surprised to learn how many of them are willing to help out or take part of your business. According to a survey in the US, this is the second main funding source for most startups. In my case, this covered a lot of my startup expenses, though I still needed some more money.
Ask VC firms to help out in exchange for an equity share in your company. Do this only if you’re prepared to share a bit of your business with others. Basically, for new entrepreneurs with small networks and skin in a game, this can be a win-win situation.
Find angel investors to either get an equity share of the business or exchange an investment for convertible debt. There are plenty of grand entrepreneurs that do this, and you can also benefit from their experience and advice.
Use crowdfunding. For me, this was the place where I got most of my funding and raised most of the capital for my business. Technology makes it very possible and I recommend looking at sites like AngelList, Fundable, and CrowdFunder.
Extra tip: Wherever you go for funding, always carry your business plan with you.
In the business plan, you’ll calculate the necessities and leave some money for the unexpected. That’s the amount you need, so don’t start the business unless you have the sum ready. If you do, you’ll probably end up getting more and more loans, struggling with money afterward, or close the business before it even stands a chance.
This point is probably the biggest reason why you need a good plan in the first place. When you create the plan, try to think of everything. New entrepreneurs fail to consider a lot of things when they make the plan, thinking that they won’t cost a lot.
But, they do. It wasn’t long after I started my startup that I realized this. A single app for it cost me a fortune, not to mention the cost for content I found out that I’ll need on regular basis. Let’s face it, you won’t always be able to write it on your own, even if you are amazing at it. And if you don’t have the money for the app, your business won’t really take off. If you don’t have money planned for content, your site will lose its popularity very fast.
And I’m not even starting on interest rates. Interest rates can kill your startup just because you didn’t plan for the expenses when you collected your budget.
3. Find the Right People
One of the biggest factors for the success of my business was this – people. It wasn’t money and it wasn’t my ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ that kept me on the market. Very often, I needed people’s help and without it, no money in the world could have kept my business alive.
So, do some networking. Do it all the time. Find the right people and make them your friends. Keep your relationships alive even when you start succeeding. You’ll need an amazing staff, a good manager, and many friends that will help you run the business.
It took me a lot of time to find the right employees and friends in the industry, so don’t give up. With the right branding and proper leadership, you can find people who’ll help you grow your business from nothing.
4. Learn the Importance of Marketing
Marketing is so, so important in the online world. Soon after I opened my startup, I started learning more and more about this. A couple months later, I became somewhat of a marketing expert.
When I say learn about digital marketing, I mean focus on everything from content and email marketing to affiliate and social media marketing. Learn about search engine optimization, SEM, and PPC. And until you do (I can’t highlight this enough), find people who know all of this to help you. Without marketing, no one will find your startup. If no one finds it, you don’t get a chance to impress them with it. If you don’t get that chance, you won’t succeed. It’s as simple as that.
5. Don’t Give Up
I can’t even count the times when some of my plans failed. Most of them, I had to change the plans, tweak the business plan, and move on. Some of the times, I just tried again and it worked.
The idea is not to give up. I didn’t and I succeeded because of it. Business plans are made to be changed, marketing is changing with every minute, and you’re bound to make mistakes regardless of your experience.
The more prepared you are, the lower are the odds for many mistakes. But, there’ll still be some. There will also be problems that didn’t result from a mistake you made. Be ready for them. Be brave.
Launching a successful online startup isn’t simple or fast. You need to start with a good idea, develop it into a plan, work on it, and then work some more. I did all of this and even though it wasn’t easy, it was totally and without any doubt – all worth it. I hope my stories helped you get the courage and knowledge to start your own.