Let’s face it – a traditional 9-to-5 is not for everyone. Maybe it doesn’t give you the right work-life balance you crave or doesn’t fuel your ambition and drive for a better life. Or you feel stuck in a dead-end, uninspiring job that’s killing your creativity. Whatever the reason, starting your own venture can be an extremely fulfilling endeavor. But what stops most people from taking the plunge is thinking of how difficult the journey will be. But it doesn’t always have to be hard – at least not the ‘knock the wind out of your lungs’ type of hard.
If you’re good at something – just about anything – there’s an audience waiting to buy from you! With that being said, here’s how you can monetize your passion and start an online business.
Find a Passion To Monetize
We all have several passions, but that doesn’t imply that we’re any good at them. We do a lot of things simply because of the joy the activity brings. But to launch a business, your skills have to be more than passable. Whatever your product or service is, it has to be good enough for someone to part with their hard-earned money. Your business won’t be much of a business if your customers don’t pay!
But that’s not to say you can’t sell what you’re bad at – think poetry, caricature, or even jokes and cringe video content. Some are so bad that they are good. Think out of the box! If you can position your product well, half the battle is won.
Check if Your Business Plan Is Feasible
Consider this. You make terrific woolen shawls, but you live in a warm locale with no real market for these shawls. Clearly, your business won’t work. But instead of giving up on your incredible skill, why not spend a little more and find customers in cold, northern countries?
This is why looking at your product-market fit is crucial. If your passion and skills are not right for your geographical market, spread out. Once you know your limitations, it becomes easier to find workarounds. In most cases, your passion will be culturally driven and fit right into your geographical context, but it’s always good to check before any nasty surprises spring up.
After formulating a business plan, your next action item is to seek feedback from experts. But only get advice from credible sources; you will meet lots of naysayers and self-proclaimed experts along the way – ignore them! Look for mentorship programs and idea incubators where you can find genuine insights.
Big-league venture capitalists might not have the time to give you detailed feedback, but you can always try reaching out to them on LinkedIn. It’s your initiative and your drive that resonates with them most, and if they see the right spark in your idea, they will extend help.
Similarly, investors like Ofer Valencio Akerman of Rigstone Capital can help you make your idea go from a vague outline to a viable business venture. The point is to get insights from people who know what they’re talking about and use these learnings to preempt problems and steer clear of them.
Keep an Eye Out for the Competition
Once you know what and how you’re selling, take a look at your competitors in that space. How do they market their offering? What sort of brand identity have they cultivated? Most importantly, how have they priced their product, and what are the terms of service?
This analysis will give you a framework to understand the target audience and market. You can improve your offering based on these preliminary findings and then learn as you go. Keeping tabs on competition will inspire you to always do your best for your business and never become complacent.
Market Your Brand
As an online business, your online properties – websites, blogs, social media pages, etc. – introduce you to your audience. It is the first impression; if not made well, it could very well be the last. Start by setting up a website and engage with your audience on social media. Get to know your potential consumers and forge a deep connection.
Most of your new product ideas will come from listening to your audience and their feedback. Invest in marketing because it is the only sure-fire way to make incremental sales and convert users from casual testers to loyalists and brand advocates. Make your own email list and keep your customers updated on everything that happens with your business – new sales, new products, or even the behind-the-scenes and making of those products.
Give It All You Got
A business is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It will need relentless input and effort. It will test your patience, shake your confidence, and present problems you’ve never accounted for. But it will also bring you joy and pride. It will warm your heart to see your customers rave about your business on social media or when your loved ones visit your online store to place their orders. But to reap these benefits, you need consistency and dedication.
You also need to think about scaling your business. If you are an artist and make five artworks a day without creative burnout, what would you do when 15 people start placing orders per day? And what do you do with your profits? Do you take a fancy vacation or reinvest in your business to expedite shipping or buy better paint supplies? Even after you get the ball rolling, you have to keep feeding your business. In fact, once you start selling, your business type might even require customer service and support.
Be Prepared for the Lows
Knowing when to let go is an important life skill and especially crucial for businesses. Despite your best intentions, your business might not take off. The instinctive reaction at this point is to double-down on efforts and investments, hoping this revival will attract customers. But sometimes it doesn’t. Having a clear idea of your hard-stop will help you cut your losses in time and move on to greener pastures.
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