The 5 W’s of an Online Business

    August 5, 2005

An online business, as with any business, requires careful planning and consideration. It starts with asking the right questions and researching all the possible answers.

The biggest mistake anyone can make in any venture is to blindly join in because it’s all the rage. Starting an online business is no exception. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you, no matter how lucrative or easy it may sound.

Let’s take a look at the questions and some of the possible answers that might help you get your online business off to a good start.

WHO will you do business with you?

Who is your audience? Who is most likely to buy from you?

It’s only natural to think that building an online business will attract visitors but the visitors must have an interest in what you are selling. Just getting someone to your site isn’t enough. They have to find what they are looking for.

Who you market to, your choice of keywords and your website design all play a major role in achieving the sales you need.

For example, placing jewelry ads in a golfing magazine won’t generate sales because the audience isn’t looking for jewelry, they interested in golfing. You must reach the people most interested in your product or service. This goes hand in hand with developing a website that delivers what your viewers are looking for. You must provide good website navigation, create a smooth ordering process and market to the right people.

The internet offers hundreds of methods and tools to accomplish all of these tasks but thorough research and testing is a big step towards achieving your sales goals.

WHAT is your product or service?

If you have a product or service already, great! If you don’t, then you will have to do some research to figure it out.

You can start by asking yourself, What are people looking for? What do people want to know? What interests or talents do I have that might benefit others? What products can I offer that are of interest?

Start by picking a topic of interest and ask people what they would like to know most about it. Take a poll of family and friends. Internet forums are a great source for information.

Niches work very well on the internet. For example, selling products that cater only to left handed people is a great niche. You’re focusing in on a specific need while narrowing your completion.

If you can find a common problem and provide a solution to that problem, you can be fairly sure of success. Helping people save money, save time, make their life easier or fulfill a need, are all hot topics of interest.

WHERE are YOUR interests?

Do you like helping people? Do you have products that others might have a need for? Did you have a life experience that might help others?

Begin by finding your interest, then provide useful, quality information and products relating to it. Use your business to establish trust and expert advice. The more relationships you can establish and the more information you can offer your viewers the more successful you’ll be.

WHY are you starting an online business?

If your answer is because you hate your boss, the commute is a killer, or you want to make lots of money, you better head back to your day job.

These are all benefits of having your own business but they shouldn’t be the focus of why you start a business. Your business should be an investment in something that interests you. You must have motivation and drive to be a success. You can’t be afraid to keep going until you get it right. Investment is a virtue and failure is not an option.

If you have an interest and the desire to work hard, then the money will follow. If you just want to get the bills paid and stay home with the kids then it’s probably not the right decision for you.

WHEN should you get started?

The time is now. The internet is exploding, opportunities arise every day. Search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated and there are creative tools that will help you run your business with little effort.

HOW are you going to do all this?

OK, so it’s not a W’, but important nonetheless.

I don’t recommend quitting your day job to start an online business. With all the ‘get rich quick’ schemes and marketing hype it’s easy to cast caution to the wind and take to the internet.

It’s best to begin slowly. If you currently have a job, you can build your business as time permits. Don’t expect too much too soon. It typically takes several years to begin bringing in substantial income.

Creating a business plan is a must. There are hundreds of products, internet experts and internet scammers just waiting to take your money and use up your valuable time.

Without proper planning and careful consideration you can be left broke, desperate and discouraged. An all too common scenario for many businesses online.

Be smart, ask lots of questions and plan carefully. If you do it right the first time you’ll be that much closer to building a successful business.

Elizabeth McGee has spent 20 years in the service and support
industry. She has moved her expertise to the world wide web
helping businesses find trusted Marketing Tools,
enhance customer service, build confidence and increase sales.
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