I’ve been an online consultant for over 28 years—a WordPress Consultant since WordPress’ inception. In my gut, I knew where the WordPress train was going, and I jumped on board.
Having been doing this longer than most and surviving, I am asked what my advice is for those who want to start their own online business. My initial answer is twofold 1) You have to do something that you’ll genuinely enjoy, and 2) while determining how you can be truly unique.
Instead, we are going to talk about the thought processes you need to embrace and apply. I wrote about attitude previously in my post, Vital Mindsets for Online Success. But there are things to think about and investigate before you can even take your first “official” step.
By its very nature, starting your own business requires you to question everything. So that includes a lot of thinking which is tough if you aren’t sure what you have to think about. Hopefully, this article will help you think about things you’ve not yet considered.
Every penny you spend, every choice you make, every decision you make to do something — or not — will impact your future trajectory. You’ll even want to question your motives and intent to ensure you are getting into this for all the right reasons.
Startup Philosophies &Attitudes
Find Your Passion
Starting any business requires hard work, long hours, and a never-quit commitment. Therefore, it is critical that you are passionate about whatever you are selling, whether a product or service, so much so the process is worth the effort.
I’ve lost count of the number of folks who think putting up a me-too site (a site no different than those already online) is the ticket. Most really aren’t into the product as much as the assumed earning potential.
If you are not passionate, onliners won’t buy what you are selling, especially if thousands or hundreds of thousands of others are already selling the same. So, how can you be different?
This is where a hobby you’ve done for years, a particular skill, or a knowledge base of information that your are genuinely enthusiastic about will give you the edge to succeed. (In reality, having fun is an ingredient of many successful enterprises.)
Read, Learn, Apply. Rinse and Repeat.
I spend a lot of time reading — and it never seems like enough. But doing that all these years has given me my edge.
I read everything that has to do with WordPress, coaching, and consulting when I can. Of course, I don’t agree with all the information I read, nor do I necessarily want to apply it to what I do. But I want to be exposed to all perspectives. So do you.
The knowledge and information I gain are invaluable to how I run my business. It is pretty common to read about an approach or practice I have never thought about. Being open to adjusting my methodology makes me and, therefore, my business better.
When you think you know it all — you will stagnate. Don’t fall into that trap. There are always others who know more than you. Learn from them. Twenty-eight years and I still learn new things — all the time.
Do Not Choose Services or Products on Price Alone
Sadly, too many make this mistake. They think they can go with the lowest price and still gain the success they desire. If only it were that easy.
Starting on a shoestring budget can be done — but only to an extent. You cut the wrong corners and could be shooting yourself in the foot, especially when you may not completely understand the value, importance, features, or functionality of what you believe to be too expensive.
Do your homework and know the core products and services critical to your success. Then, again not based on price alone, spend the money to acquire them.
Make your decisions based on what you need to rely on, not what you are willing to spend. Folks who only make all decisions based on price alone rarely flourish.
You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone.
This is where niche comes into play. Niche is how you make any headway in a saturated online marketplace. Trying to be everything to everyone is not niche and you’ll learn over time it is not worth the effort spent. So don’t even try.
Decide what you want to excel at and the specific type of customer you want to attract, and then nail it. For example, I know the kind of businesses I can work with. I don’t waste either of our time when I know we are not a good fit. Focus your time on those who matter.
The same goes for tangible products. If you offer hundreds of thousands of the items provided by thousands of other sites, all you are is a “me-too” site. That’s a steep hill to climb. So sit down right now and come up with a solid answer as to why onliners should buy from you.
Find a niche of products, or create a site-wide personality reflected in your choice of products. Then laser focus on that.
Haters Gonna Hate
You will run into nightmare clients or customers. It is unavoidable. Some folks are never happy, have unrealistic expectations, or think they know more than you.
While it is easier said than done, try not to take it personally. It’s more about them than you. This is where you integrate expectations throughout your entire website so there is no doubt about what customers can expect. The more info the better.
Use every nightmare customer as a learning opportunity. Not only to be able to spot the red flags in the future but to prevent and improve how to handle these situations moving forward. Win-win.
While you cannot avoid who buys your stuff in retail, you can control how you manage them. In both cases, offer the most efficient and professional disengagement possible. Then take note and move on.
Try New Things — All the Time
I’m a note-taker. I never know when a new way of doing something will pop into my head. If I don’t write it down, it will never happen.
Or I’ll be reading something that sprouts a new approach. When this happens, I integrate it. I never hesitate to try new processes, applications, plugins, strategies — you name it.
So, what if it doesn’t work? As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. That’s one less thing I have to wonder about.
In the highly competitive online marketplace, you need to try new things to remain viable. Who knows what you’ll discover in doing so?
Don’t be a Lemming
I took three years of Latin in high school, and there was one saying that I learned that has always stuck with me: Non ducor, duco — I am not led, I lead.
Not so much that I consider myself a “leader.” I’ve just never been a follower. In school and even afterward, I was not too fond of cliques and being in one or being pigeonholed into a demographic.
Instead, I was friends with folks from all cliques while not being part of any single one. And that’s how I’ve run my business.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in business group think or the “in-crowd” clique. I prefer to be a loner and make decisions based on what works for me and my business — not what a particular group of folks claims is the way to go. Or what the expert du jour claims as fact.
It’s healthy and recommended to question and verify everything and everyone that is within your business purview. You are your unique circumstance.
Listen to Your Gut
It is never wrong.
I mentioned niche, saturation, hundreds if not thousands of websites, and online businesses vying for the same customers. That speaks to the commitment, ingenuity, and mindset you must have.
It also speaks to the one thing you have that none of your competitors have…
You can take the very same products or services already being promoted by others and attach your unique spin, customization, and personality to them and tap into a market that can make you profitable. But you must use YOU to your advantage.
Even though starting a business has been made easier with the Web, Internet, and great website tools and applications, you are still the decision-maker. You are still the one who has to live or die by your choices.
Why not make them based on what makes you happy, what you want to do, what you know will work, and your vision? All because you’ve thought this through and created a plan that works for the long haul.
Having the correct perspective will make all the difference. The hard work and dedication that only you can bring to your new venture are what will sustain you.
Now go get ’em!
At your service,