Steps to starting a business

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Starting a new online business? Many people don’t realize that the steps to starting an online business are similar to the steps to starting any business.

Write up a business plan

online-business-steps-to-start-a-business-1One reason people start an online business is that you can do it inexpensively. But just because you won’t need to go to a bank for a loan doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be clear about how your business will function — and a business plan can help you with that. You can keep it simple. Include the following:

  • Target market
  • Problem that the target market has that you will solve/mission statement — in the image, you can see a template for a mission statement that you can use–it’s from a talk I gave recently.
  • Your solution–products and services
  • Why people in your target market should buy from you (Unique Selling Proposition or USP), including a discussion of the current market & competitors
  • Projected income for the first 3 years (yes, it will be something of a guess–or hope)
  • Timeline for creating services and products to that you can meet your projected income
  • Plans for marketing
  • Plans for human resources/outsourcing

Come up with a name

These days, your business name is often inextricably related to your website domain name. While some online entrepreneurs create multiple websites — even one for each product or event — you won’t start out that way. Try to think long term.

In my blog post, “How to choose a domain name,” I offer some ideas that will help you find your domain name.

Consider legal and insurance issues

online-business-steps-to-start-a-businessAt the same time, you should think about whether you want to be a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation. Most people start out as sole proprietors. It’s pretty easy to register a trade name locally, at least in the United States. I registered my first trade name, Rainbow Resources, in 1991 and it was a thrilling experience! Although I don’t use that name anymore, I still have the document.

While most solo entrepreneurs don’t start out with insurance, you should definitely consider it as you grow. Especially if you provide a service, such as coaching, Errors and Omissions insurance can be important. Worker’s compensation is generally required–check out the law where you live.

Understand the 13 steps for online success

If you don’t understand how an online business functions and you haven’t already received my list, “13 Steps to Create a Successful Internet Business,” register for it — and my newsletter — here.

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What steps did you take when you started your business? What steps did you wish you had taken? Share your experience with others who are just starting out by leaving a comment!

And if you think this post is helpful, please share it using the Share buttons below so that others can benefit, too.

by Ellen Finkelstein

What’s your message for the world?

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woman with bullhorn-messageI know that sounds awfully vague, but let’s talk about it. It’s the job of each and every one of us to help make the world a little bit better. You probably do that with many small acts of kindness and caring for family and friends.

What about going beyond family and friends?

And what about your business?

Let’s think big!

If you can make your business part of that work to improve the world and if you can think beyond your local neighborhood, think about how much good you could accomplish!

It’s all about integrating your life and your business. It’s not always easy to do that, but when you can, it’s very rewarding. One of the first blog posts I wrote for this website was called, “What should I do?” I explained 3 criteria you can use to decide on the ideal job for you. I also wrote separate blog posts about each: Read More

by Ellen Finkelstein

How to take the plunge and start your own online business

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online-business-start-online-business-riskStarting your own business is scary.

I did it gradually, as my kids grew and my husband was working — we had room, board and a small stipend as backup. For me, the scariest moment was after I’d had my business for several years with a steady income and we built a house and took on a mortgage. My business was the sole basis for paying that mortgage. I’m grateful that it has all worked out, but it was definitely a risk.

No matter what your situation, you’ll need to take a risk when you start your own online business and especially when you depend on it full time as your livelihood.

So you need to plan

Read More

by Ellen Finkelstein

Increase subscriptions by 55% by having more offers

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(c) Sheila Finkelstein
(c) Sheila Finkelstein

How do you get more people to subscribe to your list? Because building your list is important for your online business!

According to a Hubspot marketing benchmarks report, companies see a 55% increase in leads by increasing landing pages from 10 to 15. The more content, offers, and landing pages you create, more opportunities to generate more leads for your business.

But I only have one, you say.

You and almost everyone else. Most people have just one free download. But there might be people who aren’t interested in that one and would like something else. Couldn’t you get more people interested with more offers? Wouldn’t that increase subscriptions to your email list?

But how do I do that?

(c) Sheila Finkelstein
(c) Sheila Finkelstein

To create an offer, you need to create a web form that subscribes people to a list. To add a second offer, you need 2 things:

  • A second free download
  • A second web form

It sounds simple, right?

Well, it depends. Because you get your web forms from your email provider, you need a provider that allows you to offer multiple web forms. Remember, to offer a second download, the web form has to accomplish one or both of these actions (compared to your first web form):

  • Bring people to a different web page that has the link to the download
  • Send people a different email with the link to the download

Some of the most popular email providers either don’t let you do this or charge extra. (That’s one reason why I like MadMimi and AWeber so much — my current email services. Note: The link is an affiliate link.)

But as long as you have an email provider that lets you create multiple web forms, it’s as easy as setting up the first one.

Whether you’re looking for the best email service — or need to find other essential online tools — you’ll love “33 essential software, tools, and plug-ins I use for my online business.” It’s a comprehensive list that will help you get better results, save time, and more.

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Do you have multiple offers, each with their own landing page and form? Does your email service even let you do that? Do you think you might get more subscribers if you could offer a variety of free downloads? Leave a comment!

The photos of tomatoes are by my colleague, Sheila Finkelstein (no relation). You can see some of her other photos here.

by Ellen Finkelstein

Grow Your Online Business: Day 7 (Ultimate Blog Challenge) How important are you on your website?

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online-business-you-are-important-1I specialize in helping online entrepreneurs who offer a service, such as:

  • coaching
  • consulting
  • designing
  • speaking

Is that you? I appreciate you because you’re trying to help people, make the world a better place.

And I help people like you with marketing strategy and Internet technology. One of my specialties is helping service-based entrepreneurs expand to include products so that some of their income is more “passive,” not completely linked to their time. This allows them to earn additional income and have more flexibility in their daily schedule.

After all, I started my home business so I could be at home with my kids and I needed that type of flexibility. (They’re grown up now and my business lets me travel, that is, get away from my home.)

You are important!

If you own a service-based business, you are obviously important to the success of the business. You need to shine on your website. Your website needs to reflect your presence in your business.

So, I just added a photo of myself on my About page. Because I talk about myself there. Why should I hide behind words?

And I added a photo of myself on my Contact page.  After all, they’re contacting me! (Even if I forward the email to my assistant, it’s good to make the contact seem personal. And a lot of the time, I do answer myself.)

Putting your photo on your home page or in your website banner is another good idea for a business that is service-based. People connect when they see you and are attracted to you and your website. This is why video is so powerful. Live video isn’t easy for me, but I persevered and have a video on my home page.

If you don’t know how to create, edit and insert video, you’ll find my e-book helpful. It’s called “How to Add Video to Your Website” and you can read more about it here.

Here’s your action step

See where you can add a photo or video of yourself on your website and add it. Leave me a comment and let me know how it looks!

by Ellen Finkelstein