Whenever the topic of Online Business comes up, so does the question of where to start?
It’s only natural, as you’ll have a burning idea. And if that’s the case, then this post is for you because rather than think about it for the next 6 months, I want you to take action on it immediately.
Suppose you take what I say in this post seriously and get the message. You could get started in less than 24 hours.
We developed a BATON framework that we’ve used to help people understand the natural progression of their business idea. From humble beginnings to making sales and then scaling.
The first stage in the BATON framework is Business. This is a full-day lecture in itself but essentially boils down to – do you have an idea that solves a group of peoples problem.
This is fundamental to nail. Another way to approach this is by asking how do I ensure I don’t skip this crucial step?
By asking this question, you’ll re-enforce the importance of this step because the temptation to skip it is genuine.
It’s the same temptation that creeps in when you skip stretching after a 5km run. Or when you leave the dirty dishes till the morning.
Both save you time in the short term but result in lots of pain in the medium term.
The underlying temptation we see over and over again is to jump straight into scaling the business. (Which we refer to as Network in BATON).
That’s all cool, and everything but doesn’t help us build anything apart from the dream in our mind.
I’m not saying don’t dream. I’m saying let’s turn the dream into reality by avoiding the classic temptations that creep in when someone wants to build an online business and is wondering where to start?
Two classic temptations to avoid
Creating a Mona-Lisa. In other words, locking yourself away like Leonardo Da Vinci and creating the perfect masterpiece before revealing it to the world.
(Interestingly, Leonardo Da Vinci is an awful example to use because he was working on and building so many things in parrel that he’s actually who we want to model – this will make sense by the end of the post).
Even though I’ve made the above statement and you’re nodding their head in agreement. You’ll still go and spend the next 6 to 12 months creating the perfect product.
And that’s understandable. Because what I’m asking you to do is unnatural.
Out natural conditioning based on the way we’ve been educated is fundamentally not to mistake mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’ll get a bad grade; parents will be mad, end up in a crap school – ah! Your lives ruined.
And let’s face it, we’re all worried about people laughing at us. You may not have even told anyone about your idea yet in the fear they’ll ridicule it.
Ultimately it comes down to this. We don’t like to fail. Because if we fail, we’ll look like a failure. And failures are not celebrated in society. They’re mocked.
But even with this in mind, you’re going to have to shut that voice up in your head because counter-intuitively, we want to know as quickly as possible whether our idea is good or crap.
If it’s crap and no one wants it – shut it down.
If it’s good – great, let’s pursue it.
The point being, both outcomes are great.
Tweaking temptation number one slightly, you may be in the position of having a lot of money and not so much time.
Which poses a very different kind of risk.
In the first example, you’re losing 6 to 12 months of your life! This is why I’ve placed that very much front and centre.
In this example, I’ll assume your busy and feel like you’ve got an idea that’s a sure winner. So instead of locking yourself away for 6 to 12 months, you begin inviting individuals and companies into your office. To find the right people to give money to so they can build out your idea.
But like the first example, I want you to think counter-intuitively.
Rather than commit to money to building out the whole idea.
Instead, commit money to verify the idea.
When someone comes to us with an online business idea and want to know where to start and how much will it cost?
We’ll put forward a counter-proposal which says, we don’t want your large sums of money, instead pay us to verify this idea.
It’s counter-intuitive because you’ll feel like you’re spending money to achieve nothing.
Similarly, you pay for a house defect survey before you buy the house (which will highlight any underlying issues). We want you to pay to verify your idea.
This is where you start. Yes – even if you have the cash to burn.
Where to start instead?
I’ve hinted at it in the two examples above. The first place you want to start is identifying if your product (or service) solves a genuine problem a group of people have.
And in plain simple English – will they buy it!
To achieve this, our BATON framework is designed to give you a comprehensive step-by-step guide, but I want to get you going with some immediate to-do’s.
Whether you’re time rich and strapped for cash or vice versa, the steps will be the same. You’ll either be doing it by yourself or hiring someone to follow out these steps.
Firstly, get yourself a website that is ideally built with WordPress.
Next, create ONE webpage. Often referred to as a landing page. To achieve this, use a WordPress page builder.
And at this point, you don’t want to worry about all the tempting stuff. AKA – logo, brand, colours, videos, sexy graphics. I don’t need to go on; you know what I’m talking about.
Instead, focus on getting across exactly what problem your product solves on this page.
Then, on that page needs to be ONE button. Which, when clicked, allows the customer to call you or request a callback (fill in their details – a web form).
(If you’re slick, you can chuck a chat app onto the page and monitor it day and night (I do this with all our startups, and it’s weirdly fun).
At which point, grab some lunch and a walk because we’ve got one final step that requires some persistence.
Now you’ve created your ONE page.
Next, we want to get people to visit that page. The best way to do this is to access free channels that already exist.
As part of the Business stage of BATON, we’d explain in detail how to work out the right channels for your business but in the meantime, start with these places:
- Join the conversation and post on to a Facebook Group(s) applicable to your niche
- Post on to your personal Facebook Page
- Join the conversation on an online forum such as Reddit
- Post on to your personal Instagram
- Directly message people on Linked In, Facebook and Instagram (If you think your product could help solve their problem)
And repeat and conversate and post.
If you’ve got questions that involve going above and beyond what I’ve highlighted above. Just scrap them. Stick to the basic plan.
The big outcome you’re looking for is when people visit your site, do they click the button!
This will indicate whether or not your product (or the description of our product on the web page) is actually aligned with the actual problem the customer has.
Or does no one click. Which means you perceived them to have a problem they didn’t really have.
Regardless of the outcome, we now more so much more than we did before completing these steps. The game aims to learn as much as we can with every idea we take to the market.
Without spending the next 12 months painstakingly dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’.
With this all being said, one of the kickbacks I get for this overly simple plan is – Harminder; why even go to the bother of putting up a page. Why don’t we survey people?
I’d agree surveys have their place in product verification, but they have one flaw. Which are they seek out opinions. Not buying decisions.
By running the test the way we’ve covered in this post, we focus on hard evidence. How many people actually buy.
In summary: Where to start?
If I were to leave you with two messages, don’t overcomplicate them and fail quickly.
To help embody this ‘startup mantra’s synonymous to the folks at YC and authors such as Eric Reis (The Lean Startup). I’ve given you a rapid method to test your online business idea by taking a handful of actions from our BATON framework’s first two stages.
The key outcome at this stage is to work out whether or not someone wants what you have to offer. If they do, amazing, get to work building out your offering. If they don’t, great, start to work on something else.
Both are amazing outcomes.
Once you nail this mentality, you’ll think differently to most people entering the online business and wondering where to start. As a result, create success for yourself far quicker than you thought imaginable.