About To Start An Online Business? Read This First.

by : Steve Shaw

I recently received an interesting question from a visitor to one of my web sites: 'If there is any advice that you wish you would have gotten before you started a business online, what would it be?'. Rather than write an extensive email on this subject, I figured my answer would be of use to many people out there about to embark on what for many could be a life-changing experience.


It takes a lot more work than much of the hype suggests.


If you think you can put in a couple hours when you feel like it and achieve any level of success, you have been seriously misled. You need to be prepared to put in some very long hours, and to go through a steep learning curve as you find your way.

Establishing an online business is the same as setting up any other sort of business - it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment over a long period of time, with many trials and tribulations along the way. Don't expect instant results, nor to sit on the beach after a couple of weeks while the money flows in - it doesn't happen.

The current success stories on the Internet have got there through months, more likely years, of hard work. You should be prepared to do the same, and to make whatever sacrifices you may need to make in your current life to do so.


Don't fear failure - just get started now.


Many people do not start something because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of looking a fool, afraid of their nearest and dearest saying 'I told you so', afraid of wasting time, effort and expense on something that may not work out.

In fact, the very nature of the question in my opening paragraph above is based on a fear of failure. It is a vain search for that gold nugget of information that will prevent them screwing up.

The truth is that failure should be celebrated, it is a simple milestone on the way to success. It is only through failure that you can truly find the path to any sort of success, right from when you first learned to walk as a small child. Failure teaches you important lessons that make you wiser and will make your business stronger and far more likely to succeed.

Instead of just giving up when something has failed or not worked out like you expected, there is a really simple question you can ask instead that can lead to great success - 'What can I learn from this experience?'.

Everyone who has ever achieved success has gone through failure first. The difference is that the success stories picked themselves up, learned from the experience, and persisted anyway.

For many people, just getting started is often the hardest part. They will think about it, think some more, and then think again. Often rather than thinking in a focused way, they will end up procrastinating, and never get off the starting line.

The important part is just to get started. Yes, you may be initially doing completely the wrong thing, such as selling the wrong product in the wrong market, but failure is the only way you will learn, and the only way you will reach success. If you don't fail, you can't succeed.

And simply by starting, you have succeeded already, succeeded in getting way beyond the point that most people reach, which is usually just saying, 'One day I will'. Make today that 'one day' - why wait until tomorrow, when tomorrow never comes?


Focus, focus, focus.


It is important to maintain your focus on what you actually want to achieve. Are you aiming for an additional income to supplement an existing wage; or are you looking to make an Internet business a full-time occupation?

Whatever your focus is, it is important that you continually work towards it until you achieve it, whatever knockbacks or challenges you receive along the way.


Be careful what you read - beware of information overload.


There is so much information out there about how to do business online, much of it contradictory, that it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction.

Rather than read everything and anything you can get your hands on, it is best to find just a few people who you trust, who have a good reputation, and who are actually qualified to give the advice they give, and listen to them.

A little high-quality information can be worth a great deal.

It is also useful to watch what they actually do, and compare that to what they say - sometimes the two are very different, and following what they do is far more useful.


Don't aim for perfection before you 'launch'.


No web site is ever perfect, and if you try to reach a high level of perfection before you launch or make your site live, you will lose more than you can achieve. Plus your version of 'perfection' may differ a great deal to what actually works with your market.

Once your site is functional and of a reasonable quality, start promoting it immediately. Start to build up your mailing list by requesting the email addresses of your visitors. Test what works with your visitors and what does not, and alter your site accordingly.


Listen to your visitors and customers.


When you have started and got a web site up and running, it is important to listen to your visitors and customers, and to treat them with great respect. Not only will you learn a great deal from them about what the market is actually looking for, you can also earn lifelong customers and friends.

Positive comments from customers can be used with their permission as testimonials on your web site, which will strengthen your online credibility and profit potential.

Be prepared to continually adjust your web site to meet the market demands. A web site is never 'finished', a successful web site must evolve over time on a continual path of improvement.


But most importantly...


Decide to succeed - right now.