This is a long-form content containing tried and true strategies for running and growing a thriving online business. As you can read from the title, the default time-span for these strategies is 21-days (3 weeks). However, depending on you, this may take longer or shorter than that. Are you ready? Let's get right into it.
Often times, I get asked the question, “Sam, how do I run and grow a thriving online business?”. My answer has almost always remain the same. Five (5) of the responses I always give are what I will be sharing here with you today. So in this post, you will learn the sure-fire ways of starting, launching and growing a thriving online business to that point where it becomes extremely successful and that too, in just three (3) weeks.
Several months ago, I got the opportunity to sit down and record with Joe Pardo of SuperJoePardo[dot]com on the subject of starting a successful online business [check How to Build a Successful Online Business with Joe Pardo] and the man shared so many lessons I didn’t even know about how to start and grow a thriving online business.
Just be sure to stay with me throughout this learning process and you will learn first-hand everything you need to know about running a thriving online business. (This will be a bit long, so stay with me. Get a glass of coffee if you can). You should also have a writing kit to jot down the lessons and be ready to plan your action steps of following through with the shared lessons.
Is that okay?
But before I launch straight into the heart of the meal I’d be sharing here with you today, I’d love for you to really understand well enough the ropes of online business as it will give you the oomph that you need to drive a huge success for your business or intending business.
Having said that, I’d love to, first of all, explain to you what online business is, what it is not and help demystify for you some of the preconceived beliefs that you have about “Online Business”. You see, starting a business online is considered by many as being “easy”. Well, to some extent, it’s true but when you look at the behind the scene, that is the buck of the things that goes on at the background, you know that being a successful online entrepreneur takes time, energy, and money. Making money via your offers is not as easy as the so-called online gurus make it look like. Or is it? However, I will share workable strategies that will simplify all of your online efforts and make you become the go-to person in your niche.
Are you ready for this?
Oh you are, let’s dive in then!
So what is online business?
An online business, unlike brick and mortar business, is a kind of business that has its offers and services digitalized. It is often aided with digital tools such as Blogs, Social Media Networks (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), Autoresponders and a host of such tools. Hence, to run a successful online business means to embrace digital marketing as a means to grow. An online business is not necessarily your blog. More often than not, business owners who are trying to grow their business globally, jump on tools such as blogs and immediately call themselves online entrepreneurs.
You must be joking!
To run an online business involves as many efforts, perhaps more efforts of planning and grooming the business to the point where it is considered “successful”. Yes, you will need to do market research; that is, find out what people are talking about, their frustrations and pained points, the reality they seek and the likes are what you will need to put into consideration whilst you plan.
Doing this will often help you find who and what your target audience wants. Plus it informs you on how best to serve them. Some people might be your target audience. They might be darn hungry for what you serve, but you must find out where they want you to be serving them. Is it Facebook, Twitter or is it LinkedIn? Common! You need to find that out and be ready to push your content right in their faces. Friends, when you have successfully decode what your niche is and have devised means of serving them, be sure to serve them well and you’d be on your way to accelerating your income in record time. Trust me, it’s as simple as that!
If you are still with me guys, how about let’s jump straight into the real meat as we analyse the step by step process of growing a thriving online business in just 3 weeks.
#1: Carefully target your audience
To succeed hugely as an online entrepreneur you will need to learn to study and carefully target your audience. Often times, online entrepreneurs fail in their business because they don’t give importance to studying and identifying the demographic of consumers who will benefit from relevant products and services they offer and in turn base their strategies on the results gotten.
If your dream is to grow your business and make it thrive in the online space you would make sure to grow a strong and reliable reputation, make yourself accessible to your target audience in a way that will make them notice you. To make yourself known, notice and be clustered around by people in your state of influence means to consistently churn out and serve your audience with life transforming contents. I will talk about that later in this "book".
A female friend who has been reading my many shared thoughts on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and sometimes on LinkedIn, decided to hook up with me via Messenger and she wanted to know why I give my thoughts and strategies out for free. In her words, “Sam, I love what you are doing by teaching people what you know but don’t think the strategies you are sharing here on Facebook are supposed to be premium and paid for?”. Now, that was someone who really love what I do, who has got my back and really wants to see me grow from teaching the things I know. You know, she must have tried some of those shared strategies time and time again and they must have really worked magic for her. This is exactly why I share the things I share; to help people get from where they are to where they ought to be and really be able to start, launch and grow their own successful online business.
Yes it’s FREE but it’s not entirely free.
Let me explain. Every time I come on Facebook to share my thoughts about whatever subject that is being discussed, what I simply am doing is selling myself. I am simply telling and showing people how awesome I am and how creative my mind thinks. I get the opportunity to share my ingrained knowledge and the stories behind the person I have become; like how I have failed and how I have finally been able to grow my business. It affords me the rarest of opportunities to travel far and beyond my current location to teach and train young minds on what I do or simply help them to better understand themselves by helping them discover their life’s purpose, help them gain clarity on which idea to fly with now and finally empower them to take disciplined actions which inevitably helps them achieve life and business success.
Now, that’s a whole lot. Isn’t it? But to get to this stage, you will need to do the first things first, understand and carefully target your audience. Do I make myself clear?
#2: Create a Business Blog
You are not fully an online entrepreneur if you don’t yet own a blog! I get the amazing opportunity to speak at seminars and conferences across Nigeria and every time I do that, I almost always give the opportunity to my audience to ask me questions or tell me what challenges they are faced with in their business. Most times, I get amused as serious people ask thoughtful questions like this one: “Sam, how do I position myself online to make people hire or buy my products?” That sounds like a good question, huh? Well, it is a good a question. But I always ask them: Do you own a blog yet? And it always befuddles me to hear words like, “But what is a blog?” Others who know what a blog is doesn't think it’s important to own one. They feel their Facebook account and timeline is enough to help them achieve the results they seek. Well, that simply tells why they don’t enjoy the success and the reality they seek. And others who know what a blog is and have already registered their own domain have stopped updating their blog. And hey, an abandoned blog is far worse than not having one at all.
It makes people nervous and thinks of you as unserious and the last thing you want from your audience is for them to start questioning your credibility and reliability. That said. I think you should be informed on why you need to own and be serious with running your own personal blog. There are actually plethora reasons and several “blogging related” bloggers who have written and published so many articles on the subject. You could always do a search on this terms, “How to create a blog” and you’d be surprised at the thousands of blogs who have written about that topic, even yours faithfully have penned something down on the subject. I will mention here some of the reasons why you should own your personal blog:
• Starting your own blog makes people think highly of you as an expert who knows their onions well, especially if you are in the habit of sharing habitually great content.
• It makes you achieve the results of being KNOWN, LIKED and TRUSTED (KLT factor) among your target audience, thereby making them key into your vision and eventually makes them buy your products and services.
• It wins you speaking opportunities and night outs at hotels of the world.
• It grooms you to becoming a successful entrepreneur you have always dream about.
• It helps you chill out with your girlfriend in cozied spots around nations of the world!
I hope by now you are already feeling excited and prepared to want to start your own blog. If you are not, you should! Don’t get scared if you don’t know how to, I will stick around to help you throughout the process of starting and launching your own web presence. I believe that should at least put a smile on your sulked face. And hey, in case you already are a blogger but you are not yet leveraging on a good mobile presence for your blog, you should be concerned and start deploying mobile tools to aid mobile-users’ experience on your blog. My friend Oleg did an amazing job at presenting his thoughts on the 13 Reasons You Should Upgrade to a Mobile Responsive Website. I am sure the post will fire you up on some of the steps to take to achieve that.
3: Create high-quality content and deliver it at high speed
So you have heard the phrase, “Content is King” over and over again and you are already feeling drowsy hearing those words. Well, you are not alone, only that the words however way you look at it, holds true and is the singular most important element of growing an online business. Everything you do online involves CONTENT CREATION and without it, you might find it extremely difficult to grow your business, which might hurt and halt your chances of accelerating your income. And the last thing you want to experience as an entrepreneur is not making money from what you do, because when that happens is as good as saying you don’t have a business.
Creating content online will achieve a lot of things, part of which is helping you go viral and becoming a household name amongst your well-meaning fans. As a result of consistently churning out great contents online via my Facebook Community and the many others I joined and contribute on, I have been able to make a mark, create a voice for myself and I’ve been able to achieve the “expert” status that has also helped me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined, accelerate my income and all these in the process of sharing my awesomeness with people in the state of my influence.
However, many new entrepreneurs who have decided to heave into growing their business via online tools make the mistake of disseminating to their audience shallowly written articles, which are neither helpful nor useful. As one who seeks and expects a greater result from growing their own online business, you will need to embrace high-quality content as a way of life. March 2013, was when I finally redefined and decided to take my life seriously and really start my own online business. And that time up until now, I have created more than 500 contents, which has either been published on my blog or other blogs from around the web. And whenever I take a cursory glance into the past, I laugh out loud. The reason is simple. The articles I penned then are definitely incomparable to the ones I write now. In fact, if my name were not attached to some of them or if it were not that I almost always take a conversational approach in every piece of my writings, I would probably have argued that my hands typed those words.
Now that is growth! But trust me it took a lot of guts and constant practice to get to where I am now as a writer. And trust me I still feel I could get better at writing than I currently am.
A while ago, I published a book entitled, “101 Common Blogging Mistakes: And Smart Fixes” and in that book, I had mentioned some really important steps to publish high-quality masterpieces.
Here you go:
• To write quality content, focus on adding value
• To write quality content, write as if you’re talking to a friend
• To write quality content, write from your heart
• To write quality content, make your writing scannable
• To write quality content, make sure it’s informational and resourceful
• To write quality content, create ample time for proofreading and editing
After all said and done high-quality content not quantity content ranks well on Google’s SERPs, drives targeted traffics to your blog, increase your reputation in the blogosphere and ranks you as an A-list, that is, authority blogger.
Folks, I bet you now understand why we say “content is the king”. But hey, Value is the breeder of high-quality content!
4: Build meaningful relationships
Believe it or not, relationships is the highest need in the world! I learned this simple truth a while ago and yes, when I was getting prepared to launch my then blog – ProMotivator (which has since metamorphosed to becoming IncomeSplash.com). See, you cannot grow a business without properly engaging and building a fun experience with the people that make up your customer base.
Many times, inexperienced entrepreneurs rely on their spending capabilities to grow their business and that is not always the case. To grow a business, you need to be ready to put yourself out there and by putting yourself out, I simply mean connecting and developing a solid, long and lasting relationships with people. I am not a “relationships building” expert but I have learned a whole lot from folks like Adrienne Smith, Harleena Singh, Theodore Nwangene, Ejiro Akowien and many others, and I have been able to deploy these learned strategies into my own life and it has been particularly helpful.
By means of relationships, I have been able to publish a book as an author (there are two more underway), design and grow a successful blog, start a speaking business, develop an offline business (the space I use for my business is not paid for), and the list is actually endless. I believe if I were to pay for most of the things I have done and achieve so far as an entrepreneur, I would have gone really broke. Now, that doesn’t have to happen as I got help all the way from friends both on and offline. To build relationships with people involves showing that you care for them and going all out to impress, inspire and incite them to think of you as a professional and as one who really care about them.
The other day, I stumbled on a story on Forbes.com about a certain man named Muhney who was an IBM salesman in northern Indiana. One Friday afternoon, he dropped in on a CEO, who told him, “Mike, I’d like to talk with you, but I’m literally getting ready to go on a two-week skiing vacation. Feel free to contact me when I get back.” Muhney made a point of following up three weeks later – to give him time to catch up – and asked how the vacation went. “To me, it was a natural question,” he says. But apparently, not to his competitors, none of whom had shown the CEO that courtesy. “Your competitors have all contacted me since I’ve been back from my vacation,” he told Muhney, “and none except you asked how it went. What that tells me is you’re a professional, you care about me, and I do not like to talk with amateurs. Let’s set up a meeting.” The competitors were eliminated, and Muhney ended up making the sale. He recalls, “IBM taught us, what’s on the walls? See the trophies, the pictures, the evidence of the things they love. When you get them talking about the things they love, it builds trust.”
Now that also reminds me of a portion I read in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People”. He had shared the story of a man who got a car gift from a certain old lady who had bemoaned and keep to herself the whole time as a result of losing her husband. The man had met with her and engage her in a conversation which he spend the most time only spectating and allowing the woman feel good by sharing her heart out with him. Obviously, she needed someone to rely on and to share her problems with. Throughout that conversation, the man spoke for less than 5 minutes and spend the rest of the time nodding yes and giggling to the woman’s many remarks.
These and the initial compliment of the woman’s parked car influenced the decision of the woman to give her car away to this young man, someone she did not have prior knowledge about. Dale Carnegie ingeniously stated, “Most people loosen up even in tense situations if they start talking about what they know. Namely, themselves.” He went further to say, “Listening closely to someone "is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone," In the 6-years I have spent as an entrepreneur, I have learned first-hand that people connect, like and trust you enough to do business with you if you show them you know and care enough to see them succeed.
Every relationship I have built are basically hinged on the thoughts of helping people move from where they are to where they ought to be. I don’t go online to like, share or comment on people’s blog because I want them to pay me back with something or maybe payback by commenting on my blog. No! I am being sincere with you, all the good I do for people online are done without expecting any kind of repayment. If it happens and it always does, fine!
Building relationships with people, whether on or offline, is really important if you really want to accelerate your income and grow your business to that point where it becomes extremely successful. I also believe in helping you understand how to win friends and influence people to like and trust you to do business with you means to a take time out to learning Dale Carnegie’s practical steps via his deep-rooted book. In this book, you will learn twelve things that should help you make friends, build strong and lasting relationships, and lastly, get a chance at growing a thriving online business.
Here you go:
1. Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
2. Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
3. Increase your popularity.
4. Help you to win people to your way of thinking.
5. Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
6. Enable you to win new clients, new customers.
7. Increase your earning power.
8. Make you a better salesman, a better executive.
9. Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
10. Make you a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
11. Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts.
12. Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates.
That’s a lot for a single book!
And if I was you, I’d go get myself a copy and read it over the weekends. And whatever you do, friends, make sure you keep in constant touch with people you meet on and offline. An email or phone call or even a chat to say “Hello Sammy! How are you doing and how’s business these days” via messenger wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Common! Get out there and start building.
5: Create and sell your ideas
I have been opportune to meet with so many creative people, even those whose ideas are particularly brilliant. But one thing has stayed the same with this people, they are broke. And even those who earn from their creative minds are not anywhere close to being called millionaires. So, why isn't everyone with a creative concept a millionaire? Actually, there are a truckload of reasons why creative people remain broke but I can definitely bet on one and that’s their inability to sell!
I love what Wade Fulton said when he argued, “An idea is worthless until someone pays for it.”
I said earlier that you are not a business person if you are not making money from what you do. And it will forever be difficult for you to make money via your business if you don’t know how to sell. So exactly what should you sell? Yourself! In reality, people don’t give a hoot about what your ideas are but they really love to meet and know what you are about. If you are able to convince them, make them like and trust you, you can trust they’d be more than willing to pay for your ideas. You are your brand, your company’s overall image, you are your product and you are the reason why people will make the decision to either buy from you or not. This is why you need to embrace personal growth and development as a means to grow your business and make it extremely successful.
Oftentimes, I engage with young minds and they always seem to have brilliant ideas only that they find it extremely difficult to express themselves in simple and everyday Nigerian English. And some who can speak fluent English lack proper presentation of such ideas, which is perceptibly a no-no when it comes to sharing your business ideas with Angel Investors or any rich person willing to help you.
So, how do you properly sell yourself without fears of selling yourself short or losing face? Well that’s quite simple but requires upfront work.
Here you go:
• Research and identify who your target audiences are
• How do you intend to use your recourse to help people?
• You’ve got a story to back up your claims. Tell it professional and emotionally!
• Create and spread the words out about the “super you”.
• Be ready to annoy people as it is the only way to keep popping up in the head of people that might have the key to unlocking your potentials.
• Become a unicorn!
There’s one thing I have however learned in my journey into entrepreneurship and that is the fact that people buy from expert, not a mediocre who only is a charlatan of what he calls himself/herself.
Mates, to sell yourself effectively, you have got to learn how to separate who you are from who you as a product. There’s you who is deficient, disputed, and fallible. Then there is a “you” who is awesome, cool, and superhuman. That’s the one you are selling!
You are still not sure of what I mean by selling yourself?
Here’s what I mean: Think of “you” as a superhero version of yourself. Write down some of your best qualities and hang it on a place where it can easily be seen. Dress in a way that reflects the Super You. Carry and talk the way the Super You would talk. In short, act and live out your Super-self!
August 2014, I got my first speaking opportunity and trust me it was one of my happiest moments, but common, I was scared out of my wit. I didn’t know how to address the over 100 students that would be in attendance. It was a tough time, those times of thinking how to get on stage and share my opinion on the subject of “Purpose”. But I finally got an inkling as to what to do to outturn my fears and leverage my public speaking skills to affect the lives of my audience. Simple. I had to make myself feel good. Making myself feel good surely helped in boosting my self-confidence, helped me channel my mind to focus on what I have got upstairs and it made think like a Superhero that I am.
Here’s what I did though:
• I made sure to iron my shirt and pant (trousers).
• Polish my shoes
• Have my hair-cut to a style that suit my person
In a nutshell, I groomed and prepared myself well for the occasion and the rest was history. See, there are plethora ways to sell yourself but these are just the ones I tried with personally and that worked magic for me. I am sure if you would take your time to try them out, you will have a good story to tell.
Wade Fulton is a genius at presenting great thoughts. He candidly stated, “Maybe selling just isn't in your bag, but you still believe you have a ground-breaking idea or life-changing product. For the love of all that is mighty, find a great salesperson. Connect with someone who shares your passion, believes in your mission, can focus on your vision, and who can sell a blind man a big screen television. If you do find the right salesperson or salespeople, please remember this: you can't overpay a great salesperson. If someone is making you money that you wouldn't be earning without them, share the wealth!”
This is the idea that I forever arm myself with – if I am not selling, I am not eating. And I am not going to be able to accelerate my income let alone grow a thriving online business if I am not willing to put myself out there and sell myself as I sell my ideas!
Now, when you have successfully learned and master just how to sell yourself, you can begin creating and developing products to sell to your now HUNGRY fans.
This should not be difficult as you can always go on your blog, fetch your old contents, rewrite and repurpose them into different formats such as ebooks, video, podcast or maybe infographics. Uttoran published a powerful article a while go on the 33 Ways to Make Content Repurposing Work for You. Reading it wouldn’t be a waste of time.
Over to you.
What did I miss? Please feel free to share your thoughts with me via the comment box. And don’t forget to share it. Thanks!
This is a guest post by Sam Adeyinka of Income Splash, a hubspot where knowledge about online business and viral marketing is being shared. He teaches how to start, launch, and grow your own successful online business.