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Beginners guide to starting an online business

Today the Internet is much more than a simple document storage/retrieval system. It is a great vehicle for anyone who wants to setup an online business with little or no money and a want-it-now attitude. I have a programming background but it was not my technical know-how that allowed me succeed in this area but my trials and errors as an online business owner. I have tried many opportunities and techniques but it was through my failures I've learnt and consolidated a simple technique to succeed as an online business owner. I can assure you that, although you will need to acquire some basic technical skills, your success will depend not on your programming or typing skills but more on what you have between your ears. Below is my list of what you'll need and have to do, to succeed as an online business owner.

1. Have a dream and persistence. If you haven't got a dream and the persistence to follow it through then you will fail, guarantied.

2. Have a mentor. Find someone who has gained the experience in this field. Beg, crawl, wash their car, do whatever takes to become their student. Listen to their advice and learn from their failures and successes. You'll save yourself a lot of time, effort and money not to mention heartache and disappointment.

3. Find a hobby, a 'pet' project, something you are interested in and would do without payment or rewards. If it gets you excited, keeps you awake at nights thinking about it, it will provide you with opportunities to make money from it too. For example, once you have a project/activity that you live for, be it surfing, stamp collection, video games, mobile phones, you could start a local club. Once the club is established you can start a club website. Once the website is up and running you can introduce products to promote the club and your project/activity. You get the picture? You probably have seen the film 'Pay it forward'. Well, you can use the same principle in establishing an online business. Give something valuable first and then you'll get your opportunities to reap your rewards.

4. Promote and automate your project website. Once you completed step 3 above and your site is up and running you want to be able to promote your club site to 'outsiders'. You don't have to get technical and bogged down in programming or writing strings of HTML code. There are brilliant software out there to do a lot of 'skilled' tasks with the push of a button (both free and commercial products). Learn to use them well! Promoting your website should be your priority from now on. Get as many people to come to the site as you can and automate this activity. Start a newsletter to keep in touch with your members and provide them with free advice, tips and news on the subject of your project/activity. And again, automate this too. Get software to automatically distribute your newsletters and automatically sort any emails you get in reply to your posts. Set up autoresponders signup new members and to respond to email queries; automate, automate, automate.

5. Once you have enough members and you have an established, loyal group of followers, you can introduce your promotional products and other services that you now want to sell and make money from as a business. You'll have to be gentle and do this bit by bit. You may also find it useful to have another, separate, commercial site for this purpose and simply direct your members there from your 'signature files' or 'letterheads' you send out as part of your club newsletter. By now you should have enough experience in setting up and running a website from step 3 above. If you did have a separate commercial site you run a smaller risk of offending 'purist' club members.

6. Review the operation of your site, experiment and test the effect of site layout, content, headlines etc. Review and look for opportunities to further automate anything that you can to make your site 'self-sustaining'. If you do this you should be able to get yourself more free time to actually enjoy your hobby/project and to go out and look for more new material (advice, tips and news) that you can send out to you members. Once you have a website running and are making money out of it, it is very easy to forget that without new content and looking after your members your business will not survive. So make sure that the time you have freed up by automating your processes, you put back into searching for and providing fresh content and keep on provide a service to your members and keep in mind that they are members because they share your enthusiasm for the hobby and not for your business. Find a gentle balance between that hobby and your commercial interests. Wishing you success in your new adventure, Ference


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