Here are the three stages: Start – Grow – Transform
Let’s take them apart to see where you are.
It’s certainly obvious that you must “start” before you can do anything else. But I’ve seen repeatedly how hopeful online entrepreneurs don’t start correctly. Here are the things that must be considered and satisfied for a successful start.
Decide what business you’re going to be in…
The huge mistake here is when someone thinks, “I’m in the ‘make money in any way possible’ business.” Quickest way to becoming a serial buyer of every lame tactic and hyped-up nonsense that floats across your inbox.
You need to know — before you start — what your online business will be. Will you be a blogger, a social media influencer, a video marketer, a product vendor, an affiliate, an ecommerce merchant? Not enough time here to go into every possibility, but the point is that you must decide on the type of business you want to build.
WHO is your audience?
Who do you need to attract to your business for it to be successful?
HOW will you make money?
What are the logical revenue sources for your business?
WHAT will you sell?
If your business is a transactional one, what, specifically, will be sold?
HOW will you get traffic?
Specifically, what are your traffic sources? Search engines, social referrals, paid traffic…? Keep in mind there are plenty of ways to generate traffic, and the free ones take the longest.
WHAT is needed to get that traffic?
Will you need content? Will you need to post often? Will you need a small bankroll for paid advertising? Don’t pass up this vital step…to ignore this is one of the biggest reasons for failure.
HOW will you convert traffic?
You need to have answers to these questions, as your success depends on it.
WHICH systems do you need?
I’m not talking about every flashy offer you see. I’m talking about core systems, from email providers, to hosting, to site and page builders, to reporting and tracking. Essential services that you must have, know them and don’t be afraid to invest in quality solutions.
WHAT will it cost you?
Don’t buy into the notion that a successful business can be created for free. It’s ridiculous. Investments are required. Sometimes those investments are in systems, in technical and/or creative services, in information, in coaching, in advertising… Get real here. Be honest with yourself, and dump the “money for nothing” mentality.
WHEN can you expect to begin making money?
It can take months to turn a profit. That’s just the facts. Yes, it can be done quicker, and you’ve seen testimonials on sales pages that say things like “I made $10k in a week.” Good for them. Don’t pin your hopes to that. Slow down and figure out your “burn rate,” which is the amount of money you can reasonably put into your business to make it work.
HOW MUCH will it require of you, personally?
So many things to do. Even the most amazing software requires someone to “do” something. Don’t mistake this question with “how many hours a week can you work.” This one is focused more on what toll the business will take on you.
WHAT are the technical and creative needs?
An online business has certain technical, creative and definitely strategic requirements. Perhaps you can handle every bit of it. It’s important that you can identify the needs of your business so you can plan for those needs and either fulfill them yourself or have them fulfilled by a professional.
WHAT is the right order of events?
There’s a difference in a list of ingredients and a recipe with those ingredients and instructions on the proper order to prepare the dish. Knowing the order in which you should do something is critical to building your business for success.
This stage implies that you have everything up and running. You’ve asked and answered all the questions above (plus others unique to your particular business) and things are underway. It’s like a restaurant the day after its Grand Opening. It’s the day-to-day business, and now is the time for true determination and focus.
This is the hardest stage, because it’s like you’ve berthed a baby, and now you just want to take a long nap. But the effort is all ahead of you. It’s not time to relax. In fact, now is the time for strategic consideration, as your new business may be a breath or two away from dying or shooting forward to big-time success.
Think about these things:
What types of content can you create on a weekly basis? These could be blog posts, reports, social media posts, videos, reviews.… The point of content is multi-fold: to generate traffic, increase interest in your business, to create credibility and loyalty.
With traffic, it’s best to master one traffic source first. I would amend that to say that you must master one on-demand traffic source first (such as driving social traffic, paid advertising and email list building). If you are strictly waiting for your pages and content to be found, it could be an excruciating and painful experience. In this Grow stage, you need to get as many eyeballs as possible on your revenue opportunities.
With traffic coming in (even small amounts), paying attention to your metrics is critical. Knowing how visitors react to your offers is the only way to improve, and therefore, grow your business.
Finally, the Transform stage.
This stage can mean very different things to everyone reading this email, and it’s not necessarily about being at the very top of success. A transformation could be having a business that pays for itself, that generates enough profit to pay all your bills, or to have you quit a job and work full-time in your business.
It could be about SCALING and EXPANDING your Traffic Sources, your Product offerings.
It could be about adding Team Members, about Outsourcing, about improving your Systems.
To “transform” isn’t only about the transformation of your business. It’s equally, and possibly even more so, about the transformation of YOU.