Sunday, March 17, 2019

how to start a small business

how to start a small business

How to Start a Small Business Online - CT Post

Posted: 18 Feb 2019 12:00 AM PST

There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you're starting a small business online. I've seen thousands of people start and grow successful businesses by doing the following:

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with email.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.

Related: 10 Online Invoicing Services for Small-Business Owners

Step 1: Find a need and fill it.

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they're trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they're doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you've learned and create a product for a market that already exists -- and do it better than the competition.

Related: 8 Great Time-Tracking Apps for Freelancers

Step 2: Write copy that sells.

There's a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:

  1. Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
  2. Describe the problem your product solves.
  3. Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
  4. Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
  5. Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Make a strong guarantee.
  8. Create urgency.
  9. Ask for the sale.

Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people's problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask "What's in it for me?"

Related Book: Write Your Business Plan by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Step 3: Design and build your website.

Once you've got your market and product, and you've nailed down your selling process, now you're ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone's attention -- otherwise they're gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
  • Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
  • Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
  • Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
  • Make it easy to buy -- no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
  • Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.

Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising by Richard Stokes

Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself.

People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you'll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information.

  • Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
  • Include "send to a friend" links on valuable content on your website.
  • Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

You'll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.

Related Book: No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula

Step 6: Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers.

When you build an opt-in list, you're creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them email. That means:

  • You're giving them something they've asked for.
  • You're developing lifetime relationships with them.
  • The response is 100 percent measurable.
  • Email marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it's highly targeted.

Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there's no better tool than email for following up with those leads.

Related Offer: Get a 60-day free trial to email marketing platform Constant Contact.

Step 7: Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer's lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part -- not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again:

  • Offer products that complement their original purchase.
  • Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
  • Offer related products on your "Thank You" page after they purchase.

Reward your customers for their loyalty and they'll become even more loyal.

Related Book: No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention by Dan S. Kennedy and Shaun Buck

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.

How to Start a Small Business Online
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Copyright 2019 Inc., All rights reserved

This article originally appeared on

Think About Starting a Side Hustle? 50 Ideas to Consider - Small Business Trends

Posted: 15 Mar 2019 06:00 AM PDT

The rise of the sharing economy and various tech startups have made running a side hustle easier than ever. Side hustles are basically gigs or businesses that you can easily manage alongside a full time job or business. They're popular with those who want to earn a bit of extra money on nights, weekends or seasonally.

Side Hustle Ideas

If you're interested in taking advantage of all the benefits of a side hustle, here are 50 options to consider.


Companies like Uber and Lyft make it easy for side hustlers to earn extra money whenever you feel like working. You'll need to get approved by one such service and then enjoy making your own schedule.

Delivering Food

If you like that idea but don't want to welcome actual passengers into your vehicle, you could drive for delivery services like Postmates or UberEats.

Renting Your Car

For those with a vehicle but no desire to work driving into their side hustle, services like Turo let you rent out your car when you're not using it. Perfect for especially busy individuals.

Renting Vacation Properties

If you have access to an extra house, apartment or room, rent it out on sites like Airbnb. You'll need to provide some support and communication, but you could likely keep that mainly to the weekends if that works best for your schedule.


Blogging allows you to post content that interests you. Then you can build an audience and leverage your influence to create sponsored content with brands, offer advertising options or earn commissions through affiliate programs.


Podcasting is a similar concept, only in audio form. Most podcasters earn income through paid advertising included in their episodes.

YouTube Posting

If you prefer the video format, create a YouTube channel and earn commissions from ads placed during your videos.

Ecommerce Reselling

For those looking to start a product based business, reselling is a good side hustle option. You don't need to worry about actually producing any products – just listing, marketing and shipping them.

Virtual Assistant Service

Virtual assistants usually provide support services to other businesses, like inbox and social media management. They usually work from home and enjoy fairly flexible schedules.


If you're financially savvy, offer to work as a freelance bookkeeper for businesses in your area. You can work on your own time and keep your hours fairly light.

Preparing Taxes

You could also offer to complete tax returns for individuals or businesses in exchange for a fee. This may require a lot of work around tax season, but leave you plenty of free time throughout the rest of the year.

Business Consulting

If you're an experienced entrepreneur, add consulting to your list of services as a side hustle. You can take on a limited number of clients per month to keep your workload manageable.


For writers, offer your skills to businesses as a freelance copywriter. You can work on small web copy projects or work with just a small number of clients on your own schedule.

Social Media Managing

Social media posts are often short and can be scheduled ahead of time. So offer your services on an ongoing basis so you can work around your regular schedule.

Photographing Events

Wedding and event photographers do most of their on-site work on the weekends, making it perfect for those who have a full time job or business. You can do most of your editing or admin work from home on your own time.


Similarly, you can provide catering services for special events that work around your busy schedule.

Operating a Food Truck

Food trucks are very popular at festivals and special events. So this is another perfect opportunity for weekend or part time entrepreneurs.

Event Planning

Working as an event planner allows you to set your own schedule and work mainly from home. You can complete most of your organization and admin work on your own time, and only take on events that don't interfere with other commitments.

Personal Training

Personal trainers work with clients one-on-one to help with health and fitness. You can set your own schedule and limit your clients to a manageable number.

Teaching Online Courses

If you prefer working mainly online, create an evergreen course that students can pay for and then take on their own time.


For those who prefer working one-on-one with students, create a side hustle as a tutor and work with clients after work hours or on weekends.


By working as an editor for various clients, you can mainly work from home and on your own schedule.

Creating Resumes and Cover Letters

Similarly, you can work with job seekers who are looking to update their resumes and cover letters. Simply confer with them by phone or online and then create those items from your own office.


If you are fluent in more than one language, offer your services as a translator for those looking to translate books, scripts, videos or other materials.

Running Errands

Errand services like Taskrabbit give you the opportunity to run errands for various people in your area on your own schedule.

Vehicle Advertising

For especially busy people, you may be able to earn some extra cash by simply placing vehicle wraps or other advertisements on your car and then driving it around town.

Interior Decorating

If you're a design savvy entrepreneur, work with clients in your area as an independent interior decorator.

Staging Houses

For a more specialized opportunity, work with local home sellers and realtors to stage houses so they're more appealing to potential buyers.

Ebook Publishing

If you have an idea for your own book, self publish it on platform's like Amazon's Kindle and offer it for sale automatically.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writers can specialize in a variety of areas and work largely from home and on flexible schedules.

Designing Websites

If you have the skills to design websites, you can work with clients to offer this service in exchange for an hourly rate or flat fee.

Developing Applications

For those who can work with mobile technology, you may be able to earn even more by working with clients looking to create their own apps.


As a landscaper, you can build your own base of local clients who you serve on a weekly or monthly basis. This may also give you plenty of extra free time in the colder months.

Pool Cleaning

Pool cleaning is also more popular in spring and summer, so it's perfect for those who want some extra money, but don't want to work tons of hours throughout the entire year.

House Cleaning

As a house cleaner, you can gather a few local clients and provide ongoing services on a set schedule. But you're ultimately in charge of the hours you set and the amount of clients you decide to take on.


Child care is a very popular side hustle. You may be able to mainly help parents who want to go out after work hours or on the weekends. And you may even be able to get some extra work done during nap time.

Dog Walking

If you love animals, being a dog walker allows you to keep fairly limited hours and spend plenty of time outside.

Pet Grooming

Grooming is another perfect opportunity for animal lovers. You don't have to open up your own storefront. You can simply offer mobile grooming services on your own hours.

House Sitting

Help out traveling homeowners by house sitting while they're out of town. This doesn't require a lot of active work. So you can still dedicate plenty of time and energy to other jobs or projects.

Altering Clothes

If you're skilled with a sewing machine, offer to tailor or alter clothing for local customers. Set your own hours and policies so you can keep the workload manageable.

Laundry Service

Or you can start a laundry service where you clean, iron and prepare clothing and other items for busy individuals in your area.

Washing Cars

Car washing doesn't take especially long, making it a perfect side hustle. You can even add mobile detailing service for some extra cash.

Repairing Bicycles

If you have the skills, set your own hours and work as a bicycle repair professional during the warmer months.

Handyman Service

For handy entrepreneurs, offer various repair and installation services to customers in your area. If you're not dedicated to providing emergency services, you can largely control your own schedule.

Designing T-shirts

Use platforms like Redbubble or Cafepress to have your designs printed onto t-shirts and other products. You don't need to manage many of the aspects of running your own shop. Just upload your designs and start earning cash.

Selling Handmade Products

If you like to be more involved in the making and selling process, start an Etsy shop or sell your handmade items at local fairs or events. You can still work on your own schedule, but may not be able to offer items on a large scale.

Upcycling Furniture

If you want to sell fairly large and expensive products, scour local thrift or antique shops and upgrade furniture pieces to sell them at a higher cost.

Flipping Houses

If you have access to a fair amount of money, you can even purchase homes in your area, make some small upgrades and then sell them at a higher cost. This requires a fair amount of work, but you can rely on contractors for much of it if it's within your budget.

Placing Vending Machines

Vending machines allow you to sell products without being present. You'll need some startup capital, but it can be a fairly low maintenance business.


Finally, you may even consider using your startup funds to invest in funds or other businesses and watch it grow without much work on your end.


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