Well, but let’s start with the facts:
On the Internet, there is everything you need to run a modern business. The Internet allows for more and more precise reaching of a selected group of customers with new products (“big data”), social networking sites are growing in strength and offer forms of advertising, which are financially accessible also for small businesses, customer service becomes childishly easy thanks to Internet chats, which evolve from simple interpersonal conversations to business calls. New tools are constantly being developed to support online business (online payments, e-shops, online advertising, etc.).
Everything is nice – beautiful, but how can you make money online at all?
There are many ways (business models) of doing this. Each of them can be effective. It’s important to choose the one that fits you and your business. A few examples are the following:
Sale of products: these may be physical or digital products. What are digital products? E.g. e-books, reports, graphics, websites, online courses, online conferences, videos, audio recordings – generally everything that is not a physical product, but something that you deliver in digital form over the Internet. The advantage of digital products is that they are created once and that they can be sold more and more. There are no product or shipping costs.
Subscription sales: access to the platform or software (the so-called SaaS model). Products in this model have the potential to quickly build scale. In addition, a subscription (regular payment, e.g. monthly) provides a certain stability and predictability of revenue.
Services provided over the Internet: these can be, for example, individual consultations, group programmes or services such as ‘made for you’ services. “(“done for you”) or “done with you”. “(“done with you”). This is a very good way to start your online business – it helps you to understand your customers’ needs very well and react quickly to the offer. It is also a simple way to move from live services. Working in this model takes a lot of time (more than in other models, especially in the 1-on-1 system), but such services usually also have a higher price.
Affiliation: that is, the sale of products of other people or companies. E.g. promotions of tools, books or programmes. This is a way for those who prefer to sell rather than create.
You don’t have to choose one model. We suggest you start with one, but with time the business grows, you can connect several of them.
You already know what opportunities you have, but how do you get down to doing business online?
Do your homework and explore the market.
Don’t get down to work, don’t order a logo, don’t buy a domain until you check if someone wants to buy your products. Business is about creating products that people can buy. This makes it different from a hobby. That’s why you can’t create it in isolation from the market. We wrote about the preliminary market investigation in this entry. But always the most important thing is to talk to people who may be potential customers of your products.
How do I get there? Ask your friends, put a question on Facebook groups (e.g. ours), go to a networking meeting. Another way is to use the services of a competitor and ask their customers. Live chats are the best, but social media and forums, where potential customers can tell themselves what they need and in what form, are also great. You can also use free online surveys to collect your own answers. Where to start? Join the Facebook Business Revolution group.
Examples of tools to be used for homework:
Google Docs forms are a free tool for creating online surveys. It’s great because it collects the answers into one convenient file to view. Even if you are talking to customers live, you may not always hear the truth. That is why it is worth sending additional anonymous questionnaires, where customers can calmly provide you with feedback. You can print out the same questionnaires and distribute them during live meetings.
Most people think that first, you need to have a product (or an idea) and then you need to build a business around it. Sometimes this is the case. But it’s much better to first do point 1 (market research) and find out what our potential customers need.