All those years feeling like you’ve got things under control have led to this moment.
And now … you’re trembling from fear.
Because all those years feeling like you know how to run a business — like you understand the ground rules and you have a process for playing by them and winning — they’re not helping you right now. Because …
You have decided to build a business online.
You look around and realize that the rules are different online.
Moving from offline to online business isn’t a simple switch, because what works offline may not work online — at all. You have to learn a whole new set of skills.
The good news is that you’re way ahead of people who have never built a business at all. Even though you’ll need to learn new skills, new approaches, and a new way of generating revenue, you’ll do this with the confidence that you’re building on your previous success.
Let’s look at how successful offline business owners make the leap and become successful online business owners.
The offline business skills that will serve you well online
You are comfortable asking for what you (or your product) is worth.
It’s pretty tough to be successful in business if you can’t get past the “asking for money in exchange for something of value” challenge. If you’ve had business success, you are comfortable with this basic skill that makes some people squirm.
This will come in handy when you are creating, pricing, and offering your products and services online.
You know how to find clients and customers.
Business success comes from finding buyers for your offers — and you have mastered the whole process:
- Pinpointing your ideal customer
- Reaching out and developing prospects
- Closing sales with a conversation about value
- Serving customers well so they come back for more
You’ll spend lots of time looking for the right prospects online too. The method you’ll use to find them will be different, but the overall process is the same.
You know how to create offers people buy.
You have mastered the art and science of creating an offer that people want and are willing to pay for. This is no small feat!
It takes guts to make an offer and you are no stranger to the feeling of vulnerability that comes with offering your product or service to the world. You have felt that fear and done it anyway.
The new online business skills you’ll need to build
Building a clear, engaging, high-converting website.
You may be used to running a storefront or an office. Even if you have a home office, you know your environment influences how people see your value.
Multiply that by 1,000 to understand the importance of your website to your online business!
Here’s the thing — online, your website is your business. It’s the whole thing. It’s your address, your store window, your sales displays. It attracts customers. It runs the sales conversation.
No pressure, right?
Gathering an audience.
With your online business, you’ll use what might be unfamiliar tools like:
- Content marketing, where you’ll offer helpful, useful information in the form of blog posts, audio, or video — or some combination of all three
- Social media marketing, where you’ll spread the word about what you do on platforms like Facebook, where people already congregate online
- Guest appearances on other websites and podcasts, to help spread the word about how you serve your ideal customers
Online, you must keep beating the drum of your business so prospective customers hear and respond.
Creating opt-in incentives to encourage sign-ups to an email list.
As you get the word out about your online offerings, you’ll want to gather that audience of prospects in one place where you can communicate with them.
The best place to gather your prospects is on an email list.
And the best way to encourage people to add their names to your email list is to offer a useful opt-in incentive that’s so enticing, they’re willing to invite you into their inbox in order to get it.
Once you’ve built an email list, you’ll use the next new skill to build revenues.
Using email marketing to communicate.
An email list will give you a channel you can use to engage your readers, serve them up helpful information and resources, and make offers from time to time.
Email marketing is a minefield. You don’t want to email too often — but it won’t work if you don’t email often enough.
Finding that perfect email marketing balance is one of the big jobs a new online business owner must tackle.
Building enticing online offers.
For the most part, you don’t have the benefit of knowing your online customers personally.
You’ll need to use “stealth” methods to understand their needs and build products and services that help meet them. Fortunately, the online world is chock-full of helpful ways to gather intel about what your prospects really want.
Here they are, from the most basic to the most sophisticated and complex:
- Ask people to reply to your email messages. You’ll see their answers right in your inbox.
- Answer comments on your blog. Keep the content conversation going.
- Ask questions and read answers on social media platforms. Find out what your followers are really thinking!
- Mine competitors’ audiences. It has never been easier to look behind the scenes of the businesses you compete against. For more on how to do this, read Competitor Analysis Tools: 14 Quick Ways to Compare Websites.
- Create an online poll. Be sure to ask some open-ended questions and give respondents a space to answer in their own words — these words can be mined to write marketing copy that immediately resonates!
- Review your site and social analytics to understand real behavior. Numbers don’t lie — cross-check what you’re hearing with hard data to best understand what’s really happening in your online business.
Creating sales conversations.
Online, we don’t have operators standing by or a charming salesperson to shake hands, make a new friend, and smooth the way for our prospects to become customers.
Online, the sales conversation is virtual.
And it happens one of two ways: through a “launch” or with an “evergreen” offer.
Online launches follow a familiar pattern:
- You work hard over several weeks to several months to build a list of people who will be interested in your upcoming offer.
- In the days before you make your product available, you serve up helpful education that gives prospects a glimpse at how their lives or businesses will improve once they have your product or service.
- You make your product available for a limited time — and possibly to a limited number of people.
- You offer incentives for buying now.
- You “close the door” and stop selling the product or service.
Evergreen products come in two flavors:
- The on-the-shelf product that sits on a Shop or Store page and can be purchased 24/7.
- The product that’s made available to a limited number of people once they’ve moved through some kind of funnel, like a Facebook ad > a webinar > a sales page.
Believe it or not, you can actually use both of these techniques for a single product or service.
You can make an offer available with the evergreen method that moves prospects through an educational funnel — and combine it with the launch model, where your offers are available for a limited time, often with some kind of bonus content.
But that is a high-level online business skill. 🙂
Improving your results through iteration.
As I mention in my short book Proceed with Confidence, the most successful online business owners I know approach business as a game they’re playing.
They take this game very seriously. But they play it and watch what works and what doesn’t. They don’t get emotionally invested in the outcome. They watch, take note, and make improvements as needed.
Online business grows in stages
My online business started in 2010 and has grown steadily since. It all seemed so mystifying and unpredictable in the early stages. But since then, I’ve discovered that online businesses are built and grow in predictable stages.
To learn more, register for my free Brown Bag Workshop, How to Succeed at the 4 Stages of Online Business Growth.
I’ll deliver it live on Thursday, December 7 at 1 pm Eastern.
- The 4 stages ALL successful online businesses move through as they grow
- How to cut out overwhelm by mastering the stage you’re in
- Simple ways to know when it’s time to move to the next phase
Brown Bag Workshops are free, fast-moving, and fun. Grab your seat here.