I recently had a call with one of my coaching clients that literally started with the question How to Start An Online Business from Scratch?
While there is not a 3 step guide that I can give you or this individual or even an entire blueprint for starting your own online business in a matter of one phone call, I can give you the first few steps that are necessary to start any business online.
Back in 2013 and 2014 I was training full time as an independent personal trainer and had the idea of starting an online business so I could stop trading time for money, I was intrigued but also completely clueless on how this was even possible or where to start. Being able to wake up when I want, travel the world and work from anywhere, all while bringing in an abundance of money in my passion…sounds like the dream right?
Of course it does because we all really just want more freedom and more control of our time. Wouldn’t you love to be able to work from anywhere in your passion while also making tons of money?
I never enjoyed traditional learning aka structured learning meaning sitting in a classroom having someone teach me how to do something always got very bored and routine to me. I excelled in my academics and in sports, but when it came to starting a business the last thing I wanted to do was go through business school all over again. I didn’t have a teacher or a best friend who had an amazing online business who taught me the ins and outs of everything and I didn’t buy some book titled “How to start an online business for dummies”.
I tell you all of this because truly the way I started and continue to grow an online business is through passion, consistency, and self education not through millions of courses and a PHD. Real world experience will always outweigh any classroom experience. Which real world experience is exactly what you will learn with growing your business at The Women’s Strength and Business Summit.
Back to the question and the phone call, How to Start an Online Business from Scratch?
My first question to this individual and I will pose to you: What is your idea for an online business?
If you have one, then great! Skip this next paragraph.
If you don’t have an idea then here are a few tips and ideas on online business styles to think about and pick based on the type of business model you want:
- The Dropshipping Business– Think of enormous businesses like Ebay, Amazon, and Zulily who all act as basically online stores and just a one stop shop for some of your favorite items. They have the option of holding inventory in their warehouses that they purchase at a big discount from brands and then shipping them out as customers order directly from their website. OR they have the business set up so that they place the product and information on their website, the customer checks out through their platform, they gather all of the information, then at the end of the day they send out a spreadsheet of the customer’s who purchased with their shipping information to the brands and the brand owners ship out the orders. Beautiful thing about this is you never have to hold inventory and you have way less overhead which means if you have no passion and no new business ideas you could simply create an online store and put other brands’ products on their as a “hub” for your customer demographic then dropship each order that comes in. Google’s definition of drop-ship is: move (goods) from the manufacturer directly to the retailer without going through the usual distribution channels. Make sense?
- Affiliate Marketing– This is similar to a dropship method, but the different is you usually promote products that you are affiliated with through email marketing, social media marketing etc. For example, I host the ABS Protein Pancakes business on a Shopify platform so I am an affiliate for Shopify. I have used a lot of different online store platforms and over the last few years Shopify has been the most reliable, best customer service and user friendly so when I am giving business advice or am working with a consulting client and they are setting up an online store I always recommend Shopify. If you had a specific store, business or website that you frequented regularly, I would suggest becoming an affiliate by signing up on their website so that any time you refer someone and they purchase from that site or business you then receive a sales commission for each sale. Think of yourself as a sales rep so that you hold no product/inventory, you have no overhead, you literally are just referring people to great products and it can be anything from books, supplements, and workout gear to vacations and wine! The only downside to this is that you typically have to have some sort of solid following or email list in order to produce any real income. You can research some businesses who offer affiliate programs on websites like ClickBank.com, Shareasale.com, Commisionjunction.com, and linkshare.com.
- Create your Own Product and Sell it like crazy! – This option is a little more time consuming, emotionally exhausting, and complicated. However, if you have a dream of becoming your own brand and making a name for yourself then this is the way to go and has long term benefits plus allows the creative juices to flow. When creating your own product, the least expensive way to go about this is to create a digital product such as an ebook, video course, webinars, etc which is mostly the kind of products you will find on ClickBank. Ebooks are really more simple than people think and you could probably do an entire ebook in a week. Think about anything that you have an extensive amount of knowledge on and I guarantee you that you could turn it into an online product and start creating income for yourself. Do you know a lot of random stuff about how to draw cartoons? You could write or create an entire video course series on How to create your first cartoon book. Do you know how to throw the perfect party? You could write up a 50 page ebook or come up with a video series of How to Plan The Party, How to Invite Guest, What to Make, etc and you would become the party expert. It really is that simple just get creative and use the knowledge you already have. I love talking about business and helping other people create their dream business hence why I wrote this blog. If you are more interested in creating an actual tangible product (something that is shipped to customers) or a food product well then that is something we will cover in a whole other blog post (or we can talk about on a call) because it is way too long to explain in this starting from scratch article but it definitely is possible and can be done as well the first step for this before going to deep is for food products do you have your formula/recipe down perfectly? For other products, do you have a prototype already done? If you answer know to either one of those then get stated on that asap.
Once you decide on which business model/product you would like here are the first few steps to get you started:
- Buy a domain (if you do not already have one)- This is really simple and cost under $10 but you will need a domain to direct your business too and PLEASE do not make it ridiculously long. The key to a good domain is keeping it short and easy to remember while thinking about what words people are searching. If you are creating a wine blog and let’s say your favorite wine is something called Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally Red Blend so you want to offer a store with all these amazing red blends, DO NOT call your website smackmyassandcallmesallyredblend.com because first it’s too long and second nobody is going to be searching that! You would want to get a domain with something along the lines of: bestredblends.com, redwineblends.com, buyredwine.com etc. Got it? You can purchase a domain at GoDaddy or Host Gator it’s very simple.
- Get a WordPress Site if you are going to be Blogging or Get a Shopify Storefront if you are going to be offering a storefront. What’s the difference between the two? If you are going to be putting up a lot of content and offering value through writing, videos, etc then you will want a WordPress site. (This site AshleyDrummonds.com is a wordpress style) If you just want to sell products and create an online store then you will want the Shopify site (ABSPancakes.com is an example of a Shopify site).
- Get your social media pages up– A lot of business coaches skip this page, but with how much of our lives exist on social media I think it’d be stupid to miss out on this free advertising platform. Plus, now if you don’t know who someone is on social media and can’t pull up their FB page it’s as if their business doesn’t count. Set up a Facebook Business Page under your new business’s name (not yours unless that is your business name) which you can do that here then repeat this process for Instagram and Twitter as well (with these 2 platforms they do not have separate business page set ups so you would just create it like a regular account but with your business name).
- Create Content, Post it, Share it, and Repeat! -Unless you have thousands of dollars to spend on social media ads, google adwords and all kinds of campaigns (which I imagine you are reading this and starting from scratch so you probably don’t) then you have to do this to get any type of traffic coming to your new business page. When I first started this website I posted a new article 2-3x per week and made sure that it was about a topic or question that people actually wanted to know about. This is key! Go on Instagram and see what the top hashtags are and then write all of your content based around that. Go on Google’s Keyword Tools and search out a subject you are thinking about writing about and see if anyone is even searching that topic. For example, if you want to write about fitness for women then get specific about what you are going to give women that is of value. Instead of “Fitness for Women” being the title of your blog post you would get more hits and traffic with writing about “Top 3 Exercises to Flatten the Lower Belly”. Like I said, I recommend writing at least 2-3x per week when you are first getting started to really get any kind of traffic coming to your site. Once you have written an article that provides a lot of great content and value, then post that on your new Social Media Pages and get all of your friends and family to share it for you. In all honesty, I am going to tell you what I wish someone told me when I was first starting out: This will take time and you may only see 100 visitors a month to your site for 6 months before you get any traction. The more consistent you are and the more valuable your content is-the faster you will see people visit your site. Nobody told me this and when I was first starting out, I dove head first into this and blogged all the time and shared all the time and at the end of 6 months I had 10 people on my subscriber list and I was ready to quit! I am telling you this so you are fully aware and no to be patient.
- Get some sort of Email Capture Platform– With all this awesome content you are creating and giving out to people you will want some way for people to subscribe to you so that when you post new content they are notified or if you have a store front any time you have new products or a sale you can let your customers know. There are TONS of email marketing softwares out there, but the ones I have found to be the most user friendly and least expensive are Aweber and Mail Chimp. This integrate right into your store or WordPress site and you will easily be able to tell your website visitors to “Sign up for my latest articles or latest sales, etc” (just like you see at the top and bottom of my page) so you can stay connected.
Building an Online Business from Scratch takes a lot of time, passion and consistency. Everyone sees the benefits and rewards of years of hard work and discipline but not too many people see you behind a computer screen doing everything you can to succeed for the years before that success started to show. If you stick with it, then having an online business can be incredibly rewarding and give you the freedom you want.
- I couldn’t possibly cover everything it takes to build an online business from scratch in one blog post, but I will continue to give you the next steps with separate blog post so you do not get overwhelmed so be sure to Subscribe at the top of bottom of this page so you receive all of this information as soon as it comes out so you can continue to build your online business!
Join myself along with Cori Lefkowith and Justine Moore at this year’s Women’s Strength and Business Summit to get hands on coaching about starting both an online and offline Fitness or Nutrition Business along with meeting dozens of other like minded women who are taking their passions and turning them into successful businesses!
Last, but not least if this article helped you and gave you a lot of tips then be sure to share it with your friends, family and favorite people!