Over the last decade I’ve helped many new entrepreneurs launch their own business many of which are now run full-time either replacing a former job or filling a gap where the business owner had lost their job.

Of course, others we have helped haven’t been so resourceful and there are some who have given up along the way.

What makes the difference between those who have gone on to realize online business success and those that have faded into the back?

It comes down to 3 elements:

1. The successful online entrepreneurs have been incredibly self-motivated to a point where if I hadn’t been able to help them, they would have found some way, some one to help them…granted it would have taken longer, but they wouldn’t have given up

2. Those that faded to the background did not follow the process (more on that below)

3. Those that were successful learned quickly, adapted and took action – those that did not succeed “knew it all” instead of absorbing the information around them and did not take action (better talkers than actors)

Getting back to #2 and the process. What is very interesting in looking back at hundreds of successful online entrepreneurs is adherence to a simple (yet very powerful) process they followed in launching and growing their businesses.

This process is outlined below…

Market/Idea

First comes the market and business idea.  Many entrepreneurs struggle at this stage confused by watching others who succeed at business thinking they can copy their market and idea OR in mistakenly choosing a market without fully identifying a desire.

So what you want to do here is to identify a market defined by their collective frustration or desire to improve, ideally sticking to markets and ideas that you have interest or passion around.

For example, one of our Information Marketer’s Zone members had a passion for personal training but wanted to move his business to a new city and feared starting his practice all over again…the answer came in the form of on-line personal training which now makes up the vast majority of his income.  He transformed a local business into a global business that he can now scale to much higher levels of profit.

Similarly, one of our clients had an idea for a boxed apparel subscription business that is now generating a full-time income and could easily make her a millionaire in the next 3-years.

Every great business starts with a well thought out idea based on a combination of entrepreneurial passion and market desire.

Business Model

Next, you want to quickly determine the business model you will use to launch your business.

Will your model be an online subscription business?  Will it be digital products that you sell online? Or, will you license software or sell your services?  Perhaps you will sell someone else’s products into markets that you identify as key opportunity areas.

The key here is to consider the “type” of business you want to run, align the business model with market desire, ensure maximum profitability so you can continue to reach, grow and serve your markets and finally, scale your business as it grows.

For instance, starting off with 1:1 freelance work can evolve into group coaching or services (to further leverage your time) which can evolve further into packaged products (package once and sell many times) as well as subscription revenue (package once and gain recurring income many times over).

Each of these choices has implications on how you will run your business, your market acceptance and positioning as well as your ability to further grow your marketing.

Test

It seems obvious that you want to move from business idea through business model into pre-launch and test as soon as possible – not only to speed the eventual full launch of your online business but to gage interest and obtain early feedback that will help your product launch stronger in the coming weeks.

No matter how convinced, confident or uncertain you are about your product, testing is the ultimate truth!

I have had products I was CERTAIN were going to hit it out of the park flop miserably and others I was doubtful of hit strong – and these were products in markets I knew very well.

The trouble is, very few online entrepreneurs ever actually run tests prior to launching their products – even if they know it would be a good idea or intended to from the start.

Tests can (and will) fail, but in 99% of the cases you get immediate and highly valuable feedback that allows you to tweak your product or pivot our business toward a much stronger position.  When it comes to testing, just hold your nose and do it…you won’t be sorry.

Scale

From your initial testing and eventual launch you will now experience growth in your business.

That means sales are rolling in, feedback is coming your way (good and bad), customers are reaching out for advice and support and you are making thousands of small decisions on everything from where to advertise next to who you will allow in as a partner/affiliate all the way through which product you will release next.

At this stage putting key processes and people in place to help scale your business is critical.  I know many online business owners that continue to operate a < $100K business when they could be operating a > $1M business simply because they refuse to scale their business.

At this stage of the game (if not before), you want to plan a small organization of key experts that can help you with sales/marketing (graphics, social, content, and PR) , product development (product creation, licensing, packaging, etc…), partner manager (recruit and manage affiliates, license partners, etc…).

Those people can be contractors in the beginning, but start thinking about putting basic checklists and processes in place regardless of whether you hire contractors, temporary or part-time help or full-time employees in the beginning.

It is in the scale that you enable new opportunities for market positioning, growth, PR, and branding that are otherwise simply not possible with a slow-growth company that has limited momentum.

If you are in the process of starting or growing your own online business, identify where you are in this process and if you have had challenges, where you may have missed a step.  This 4-step process categorizes the framework taken by every successful entrepreneur I have been involved with over the last decade…it simply works!

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