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Have you ever sat down to actually start your online business and then you're sitting there and suddenly you think “well how do I actually start? What do I do, where do I start? Because I've got this massive list of things to do here. I've got some idea of how I want it to look in the end, but I’ve got no idea how to get started”.
Or, “I've got some idea” but then you go to start that and think “oh no this isn't right! I need to do this first”, and on and on and on, and you never actually get any momentum. This is not an uncommon problem.
I had the same problem when I first started my online business a few years ago. So I want to share today a few ideas of what helped me, how I got started, and maybe get you started today with your idea.
First of all what I want to suggest to you is to get into a different mindset if you like, and one of service really. So yes this is about building your online business, which has your own outcomes as to why you're doing it, but at the end of the day every business exists to help people.
So I'm suggesting you get into this attitude HELPING.
Just think at the most basic level - "How can I HELP people in this area?"
I'm going to give you an example of how I did this and that might help you get some context as to what I'm talking about and how you might apply this to your own idea. For me, when I started my online business, it was in the field of exam preparation for people wanting to become police officers.
Because when I became a police officer, it was not my second, but my third career, and you know, I'd also done a few things before. But, more importantly in context to the exam preparation, it had been like over a decade since finishing high school and when I looked at the exam preparation I realised that this was stuff that I would have learned in high school.
If I was competing against people who were going into the police as their first career, I’d need to hit the books again and actually work out how to do this stuff. So I did, but I had to pull in resources from all different places and books and things, like a lot of things I've done in online business, it worked, but it was not the shortcut if you like, it was a really long way of doing it, and in hindsight, not the best way of doing it.
So I thought, okay well I can help other people with that, because I can put my knowledge of what I learned, and package it all together and give it to them.
I thought okay, what's a very broad plan to do this? I know what I want to deliver to them and I could write an eBook for example. Now, again this is not the best way to create a product, so do hear me on that, but this is just what I did. I thought okay I'm going to create a product, I'll put it all into an eBook.
Great, that's going to be step one. I need to be able to deliver it to people, so I need a website, something online so someone can come to the website, buy it, and then they get sent the eBook, so I need that. So the website was step two. I'd learned how to do an eBook, and then I learned how to make a basic website, and how to sell something - nowadays the whole process is way, way easier as well.
And then, step three, now I need to find people. Because I had a few people that were already asking me about this, but that was just ones and twos. I needed to get this into the hundreds and the thousands!
Ultimately I needed to get traffic to my website. So I learned how to do Google advertising. And again, I didn't do it very well. But that was my basic steps.
I had a plan, “I'm going to create the product, it's going be an eBook, I'm going to put it on a website and then I'm going to get people to find the eBook and buy the eBook by advertising, with Google AdWords”.
Okay so, that was my three step process, and that's what I used to get started. Now you know, was the eBook the best product in the world?
No it wasn't.
Knowing now what I know about teaching people, we have an amazing product and I'm still innovating every week. Just this week we're restructuring it again to make it better and better.
The website, terrible - okay, so really bad! But at the end of the day someone could get on it and if they could put up with the poor web design and the clunkiness of it, they could find their way to buy the eBook.
The AdWords was a disaster too, because I tried to do it all myself, and then I outsourced to someone else, and they weren't very good at it either, so I wasted a lot of money on ads that I didn't need to in the beginning.
But the reason I'm telling you this story is that those three steps, create an eBook, get a website, and then get people to the website, is what allowed me to create some momentum. And then, as they say, the rest is history and it has turned into a very successful business today. But if I had thought, “ah, you know, how am I going to do all this stuff?” before I got started, then I wouldn't have started.
I think you need a degree of naivety to actually start a business. Let alone the statistics on small business, we've all heard the numbers, nine out of 10 products fail, most small businesses fail in the first three years, and so on.
As small business owners we have that hanging around in the back of our heads. But if we even just look at the tasks and we let that just weigh us down before we even do anything, then we never get started, we never get momentum. So at the beginning it's all about this momentum, and getting started in that way.
In the example of my story, the point is, that if someone said to me “okay, you're going to start an online business doing preparation for police exams, okay that's fine. Here's some problems that are going to happen for you. Your career’s going to be in jeopardy, you're going to be pulled in front of internal affairs, your website's going to get hacked and shut down and you're not going to know what happened. You know, another thing, you're going to lose money - you're going to end up stuffing up your ads, and you're actually going to be losing money at some point. You're going to be working out of a hospital to build your online business at some point!”
If someone had said all that stuff to me before I got started - and these are actually things that actually happened - then there's no way I would've got started. But with the fresh naivety that I had, I thought “okay I'll make an eBook, make a website, and put some ads up and people will buy it right?”
No, it's not that simple, but if I made it that simple, just in my head, that was enough to get started. So what I want to share with you today, is just whatever you're thinking of in terms of the complexities of business, yes you are right, it is complex at some level, and it will grow in complexity. But if you're just trying to get started, the key thing is just to get some momentum going, because you're not going to know if it works until you actually do it anyway. And, it's guaranteed not to work if you do nothing.
So, build some momentum, make a quick plan, like a one, two, three step plan, worry about what you need to learn, when you get up to that step, and just get going. It's not going to be perfect, it's never going to be perfect at all, you're always going to be improving. And most importantly of all, get into that mindset of service and helping people.
After all if your outcome is to help people, then it doesn't matter if what you're doing isn't perfect, because if you help someone then you've already achieved what your outcome was, i.e. “I wanted to help someone with this, and I'm helping them, so fantastic!”
Then, as you build momentum, you will, if you're like me, probably start getting addicted to this process of thinking “oh if I could just fix this bit just a little bit here then that would improve that, and so on and so on and so on”, and then suddenly you've really upskilled in a number of areas and you're serving more people, and you're helping more people. And all because you got started with a little bit of momentum!
So that's what I have for you today. Hopefully that's a bit of inspiration for you, as to how I got started and it might help you to get started with your idea.
Matt Phillips is on a mission to help others make the same transformation he made to a life of freedom and contribution enabled through building profitable and fulfilling online businesses.