What to Do If You’re Starting From Zero

Two Steps to Start in Online Business

On my website and podcast, I give advice about succeeding in online business. I try to take a different approach than the “gurus” out there, who seem to have a perfect 12-step formula to every problem and want you to buy something from them.

I understand where the gurus are coming from, but I find they talk too much nonsense. They don’t understand how hard it is to start, because they’ve been in business for a while.

I surveyed my audience about their biggest hangups when it comes to online business, and a huge portion of respondents said that they have trouble starting anything.

Some people get hung up on how to acquire their first client or two. They know that once they have a couple of happy, regular customers, they’ll be off to the races.

Others look for a skill or two they can use to generate their first stream of revenue. Hopefully, it’s something they can build upon to unlock more streams as they go.

Some people are simply looking for the confidence they need to ditch the soul-sucking 9-5 grind and strike out on their own as an entrepreneur. NOTE: I recommend making sure your online business gets off the ground before quitting your job.

In this post, I hope to answer all three of these concerns and give you a solid way to start from scratch in an online business.

If you wanna listen to this in podcast form, follow this link

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

When somebody performs a quick search on how to start an online business, they get bombarded with advertising messages from so-called “gurus” who seem to have it all. These gurus intimidate the beginning entrepreneur with the amount of content they have and the terms they use that the searcher doesn’t understand yet.

Almost all of them have an expensive course, webinar series, and personal coaching to sell. How does one know which option to go with? How does one even get started?

Worse yet, these gurus will start to show up on your Facebook and Instagram feeds, and sponsored emails will miraculously show up in your inbox. It’s a ton of noise.

Many of the gurus mean well. Most of the things they teach will probably help people. But it’s way too complicated and costly for a beginner. You don’t need all the stuff they’re trying to sell you, I promise.

I want to take the chaos out of the equation, so you feel confident to start your journey in online business. Trust me, this journey is a rewarding one. But it requires narrowing your focus.

There are only two things you really need to get started: a market and an audience.

By the way, these two things are pivotal features of the M.I.L.K. It Method, my premier strategy for turning your skill, product, or idea into a major cash cow. Best of all, it’s completely FREE. Get it here.

From Zero to Hero in Two Steps

So how does one establish themselves in a market, and begin building their audience?

  1. Market

Whatever previous definition you had for the word “market,” forget it. Let me give you a new one: 

A market is a select group of hungry customers with a proven track record of spending money on their passion.

Let me break that down a bit further. The customer base is hungry. They love what they love, and they’re willing to spend money on it. It could be a group of Chihuahua enthusiasts, musicians, or golfers. Anything humans are passionate about can become the fixation of your market.

Not only are they hungry, but they also have a proven track record of spending money. Don’t go into some “untapped market” and think you’ll be the very first pioneer to sell things to them. Markets often appear untapped because many others have tried but struck out. You can attempt to blaze new trails later, once you have some revenue coming in and a safety net to fall back on.

Finally, the group is select. Go vertical, not horizontal. Instead of selecting “martial arts” as your market, get more specific and pursue “karate” or “judo.”

For me, my initial market was “local businesses on Maui.” They were select, hungry, and were already paying loads of money for things like billboards, radio commercials, and newspaper ads.

If you can find ANY GROUP with those criteria, then you’ve completed step one.

  1. Audience

The next step is to build a faithful audience in your market, long before you try to sell anything to them.

  • Join Facebook and Reddit groups comprised of people in your market. Begin posting helpful things and asking engaging questions.
  • Create a Facebook group of your own, and post in it every single day. Invite all your friends, and their friends, into it.
  • Make a YouTube channel or a podcast and consistently post authoritative, helpful information to it. Again, use your other communication channels to promote your new content.

After a few months of doing this consistently, you’ll have anywhere from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred people consuming your content. This is your audience.

Please, please, please understand that there’s no shortcut to this. Building an audience is where most online business people fail because it requires hard work and consistency. 

This is where your dedication to breaking free from your old, corporate shackles is truly tested. You have to work hard to come up with creative, engaging, and helpful content on a regular basis, all for ZERO revenue back.

But those who stand the test of time when building their audience reap amazing rewards.

For me, I started a Facebook group about entrepreneurship shortly after I began my marketing career. My market for this was beginner online entrepreneurs who feel skeptical about everything the gurus are trying to sell them. After inviting everyone I could, I had a group of about 50 people.

I began posting in the group every single day. I asked questions and ran polls. I discovered the kind of content my market was willing to engage with and the sort of posts that made my audience grow.

Eventually, I formulated a live training based on a method I discovered. I dropped some feelers and gauged how much someone would be willing to pay for it. It turns out that three people were willing to pay $150 for my training. Though it was a humble start, at that moment I progressed from market and audience to monetization.

But that’s a story for another day. 

Don’t skip the hard work of building an audience in your market. Monetization is another ballgame that only gets played when you have an audience of your own.

Take these two steps and run with them. If you locate a hungry vertical that will spend money and get a few of them to start consuming your content, then you’ve officially started from zero.

For more secrets the so-called “gurus” won’t tell you about succeeding in online business, subscribe to my podcast.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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