That’s how long I’ve been running my own online businesses, and while the online landscape is completely different now than it was back when I started in 2009, there’s one thing that remains the same:
There is no one right way to build an online business.
Every single one is different. Even businesses in the same industry, that offer the same services, will have characteristics that differentiate them from any other business out there.
There are certainly best practices, strategies, and tactics that you can adopt to help you on your way.
However in the end, the thing that will make your online business succeed will be the way you combine all of those, plus your own personal experience, to create something unique.
In this post I’m going to review everything you need to know to start beginning to think about starting a business online. Understanding the basics is really important to making sure that you start the right business, or in many cases, helping you to understand if an online business is even the right path for you to take.
If you’re looking an all inclusive training, I’d suggest taking a look at our course “The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Business”. Right now it’s only ten bucks, and it’s the most in depth course I know of that covers all those things you need to know, but didn’t know to ask.
How to Start an Online Business: The Benefits
Having done this for the better part of a decade, I’m acutely aware of all the benefits of owning an online business. There are a lot of them (and certainly some drawbacks, as you’ll see as well).
Here are the best benefits of an online business for that I’ve found in my experience:
- You get to set your own hours. Hate mornings? Always hit an afternoon slump? Build your work schedule around when you’re the most productive. Here are some alternatives that show you what’s possible.
- You can travel when and where you choose. Get invited on a last minute trip to play epic golf courses in the Canadian Rockies? Sweet! You can go.
- You have the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Still have work to do on an the aforementioned epic adventure? With an online business, you can do it from anywhere.
- If you build it as such, you can generate “passive income”. Not all online businesses provide the elusive “passive income” but if you like the idea of making money while you sleep. The right business model can provide this.
- You’re able to have a direct and immediate impact on people’s lives. I’ve helped thousands of people through Location Rebel. And being able to do that, while also living a lifestyle I enjoy, that may be the best benefit of all.
- It can enhance your enjoyment of a hobby or passion. Certain online businesses offer benefits that you simply wouldn’t ever get were it not for your business. These can often be even better than the business itself.
- The earning potential can be higher than a traditional job. Do you have to fight tooth and nail to get a 3% raise every year? With an online business, your earning potential is limitless if you put in the time to educate yourself and grow your skillset.
- You get out of it, what you put into it. I always hated the fact that it didn’t matter how hard I worked, in my day job, my position and income never changed. With my own business, if I want to put in an extra 20 hours a week, I directly benefit from my work and efforts.
These are just some of the benefits of having an online business that I personally have experienced. Others might have things that are personal to them that I haven’t listed here.
I wrote a post awhile back that I felt outlined the benefits of this lifestyle pretty well:
The Drawbacks of an Online Business
At least once a month I think to myself:
“Self, maybe you should go get a day job.”
Seriously, I do. For as great as my life is, and for as much as I love my business, there are times where I think it might be easier if I didn’t have to have so much responsibility.
After all, one of the best parts of building this type of business is the skills that you’re able to acquire. Skills that could prove very lucrative to the right company.
But at the end of the day for me the tradeoffs have always been well worth it.
As you’re reading these, think about your personality and if you truly think working for yourself is a good fit for where you’re at and your goals.
- Lack of community and socializing. There’s no water cooler. You’re not seeing your coworkers every day to chat and gossip. The lack of a social element in your work can take it’s toll after awhile.
- You’re responsible for all the “real business” stuff like taxes. Even if you hire an accountant, you’re still the one who is responsible for making sure everything is in order. This can be especially painful if you live in a place that isn’t friendly towards small businesses.
- The stress. Oh, the stress. An online business isn ‘t always stressful, but when it is, it can be really stressful.
- Burnout. When you’re starting make sure that you’re excited about the type of business you start. You can get burnt out down the line, even around a business that you’re stoked on.
- The emotional roller coaster. No matter what the business is, no matter how much success you have, there will be high highs, and low lows. If you can’t handle that, then an online business may not be the right fit for you.
- Not being able to “turn it off”. Not going to lie, every so often I find myself longing to truly be able to not think about work. It’s not a day job, you don’t get to clock out at 5pm. There’s always something you could, or should be doing.
Types of Online Businesses
There are all sorts of online businesses out there. But in the end, most of them are variations of a handful of different types of businesses.
Each of these are good fit for a different type of person, with different goals. Our Beginner’s Guide helps you figure out exactly which one is right for you, but this overview should give you a bit of an idea of what your options are.
- Affiliate Marketer. You have a website with special links. If someone clicks the link, and buys a product? You get paid. Check out our epic post on how to start affiliate marketing.
- E-commerce Store. Sell physical products online. They could be ones you manufacture, dropshipped items, or items you’re simply an affiliate for.
- Membership Site. You have content that’s protected that only your members can see. This could be a course, a forum, or something else. Usually there is a recurring fee. Check out: How to Build a Membership Site in 48 Hours,
- Information Product. Create a course or a book teaching people how to do something, and charge for it. Location Rebel Academy is a hybrid of an information product and membership site.
- Freelancer – There are dozens of industries you can do this in, and I strongly believe freelance writing is the easiest online business you can start. Learn about freelance B2B writing here.
- Blogger. Are you an expert in a certain niche, or is your life unique and interesting? Full time blogs or niches sites are still one of the most popular online businesses out there. Check out: How to Create a Niche Site.
- Social Media Influencer. Ah thank you Instagram and YouTube. The most recent online business is people creating content and becoming famous off their personal brands. It can be hard to do, but it’s great work if you can get it! Check out: 31 Youtube Video Ideas
- Coach/Consultant. Next to blogging or freelancing, this is one of the easier businesses to start. There are people who want to learn from you and your expertise. Starting a consulting or coaching business in an industry you know a lot about can be a great foray into the online business world.
Ideas for an Online Business
Finding ideas for an online business can seem really daunting, but it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s what you should do:
Step 1: Decide what type of business you want it to be. Look at the list above, and choose the one that fits your personality best. For example, do you want to work with people? Or sit behind a computer? Do you want to sell products? Or be a writer?
Step 2: Make a list of all your hobbies, passions and things you like to do.
Step 3: Brainstorm. Knowing generally the type of business you want, and now a few industries you’re interested in, spend 30 dedicated minutes brainstorming different ideas.
Step 4: Validate. This post will give more detail into both finding your idea, and also validating it.
Questions to Ask Before Starting an Online Business
There are a few questions everyone should ask themselves before getting started. While these days the technical aspect of starting a business or website is extremely easy, being consistent with it and growing a business over months and years is more of a challenge.
The following questions help ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons and are in a good mental place to start pursuing it:
- Can I put at least 10 hours a week into this new business? I’ve found 10 hours to be the minimum amount of time necessary to put towards a brand new business each week. Any less and you’ll struggle to gain the necessary momentum to succeed.
- Why do I want to pursue this? Is there a better avenue to accomplish my goals? Are you doing this out of desperation or necessity? Do you just not like your job? Would a different career path be a better fit?
- Am I ready for the mental ups and downs that come with doing this? The steps to starting a business are easy, I will teach you those. The process of building a business over a long period of time, however, will send you way up, and then way down. Are you ready for that?
- Do I have a person or small community to help support me with this? There’s nothing “solo” about being a solopreneur. Finding a person or a community that knows what you’re going through, and ideally is going through the same thing in their own journey is often the difference maker between success and failure.
- What does success look like? Finally, what does success look like to you? What are you working towards? What do you want in life? If you don’t have a proper answer to that, then you’ll struggle to have the necessary motivation to keep pushing through.
- Are you willing to invest in yourself to make this happen? Starting an online business doesn’t have to be expensive, and in many cases isn’t. But if you aren’t willing to invest say $1,000 all in on your new project, then you might want to consider how dedicated you really are, and if it’s the right choice for you.
If you have positive answers to all of those questions, then you’re likely going to be in a great spot to get going.
The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Lifestyle Business
I remember back when I was living in Thailand, I was cheap.
And in it, I realized that on any given night I might go out and spend $20 or 30 on beers without thinking about it for a second.
However when it came to investing in my business, I’d agonize over buying a $10 domain name.
It’s a weird mental game that I still don’t fully understand.
But what I do understand is how difficult it can be to start investing in yourself, in a business, and get over all the uncertainty that can come along with entrepreneurship.
So to help you combat that, and to give you real, tangible next steps, I’m going to make this easy on you.
I’ve created what I believe to be the very best introduction to starting an online lifestyle business on the internet.
It walks you through everything. It introduces you in detail to what all of the different online business types are, helps you figure out which one is best for you, teaches you the most common online marketing tactics, and gives you a roadmap for getting started.
I charge 47 bucks for it, and I think it’s worth every penny and more.
But because I know it can be difficult to invest in yourself in the early days, I’m offering it for just $10 until the end of the month.
With just a $10 investment, you’ll know exactly what to do next and be able to get off and running with your next business.
The only question left to ask yourself is:
Would you rather have a beer or a business?
If the answer is the latter, check out the course, and let’s get to work.