How I Start Web Businesses (Practical Considerations)

by Tim M on November 17, 2009

Intro
I thought I’d write a post about how easy it is to get web businesses started. I’m all for people having a shot at either hustling on the side of their real day job, or having a massive crack and deriving income from their passion.

I won’t cover how to find your market and so on; many people much smarter than me cover this elsewhere.

So read on for the plan, or, do what I do, and shoot first and ask questions later (could explain why I have 50 domains I’ll never use). If you blast away with the shotgun enough, something will stick, particularly if driven by a good idea. Failure is totally ok. Remember that.

The key here is execution. A brilliant idea x by poor/no execution = zero outcome (practically). Poor idea x by brilliant execution = zero outcome.

Good-Brilliant idea x by good-brilliant execution = success.

Here we Go!
The barrier to entry for anyone starting a new business has never been lower (well, that I know about!).

Domain name? $13 a year.
Hosting? Free.
Put a WordPress based page up and you’re off.

Sounds easy right? Well, it can be. But too often, too many people think they can make easy money online. Not so.

Money from blogging? Don’t bother. Unless you have a unique angle or perspective and can provide it with lashings of passion – even then it might not succeed.

More and more, I find that the best reason to start a business, is in response to a problem you need solved for yourself. This is commonsense, after all, it stands to reason if you find this a problem, you won’t be the only one.

After discovering that you’ve hit a market, you probably ought to do research to determine if someone else has filled the gap. Personally, I always skip this stage. It may be a little obnoxious to presume I can fill the niche better, but given the low barrier to entry, I figure it’s worth a crack, unless loads of capital is required. Capital intensive projects are best avoided anyway. Eschew inventory, always. Dell does it, so you should too. Carrying inventory is a surefire way to have capital tied up in stock.

Once you’ve worked out if you’re going to go ahead, you need to do a few things.

How to leverage.
How are you going to leverage your idea. Can it scale infinitely, or very highly? Transportation of information (1s and 0s) is scalable. Shipping stuff globally, unless you have the capital for supply chain and logistics management (Dell), is not scalable. Best avoided, then.

This naturally points itself to Intellectual Property (think, software licensing or sales) or information based revenue (think, ebooks etc).

Market
It’s people like you with the same problem. Simple. Addressable.

Name
This is sometimes the hardest part of all. Needs to be sticky. Read this article and this article by Seth, it will help. I usually shoot for something that will capture organic search, but sometimes go for something identifiable with the market, but different.

Online Presence
Easy. Get some hosting. Install WordPress. Buy Thesis, Headway, Frugal or something from Obox or WooThemes.

Get Twitter and Facebook presences. Vimeo too if applicable.

More Reading

Here’s some reading and such that you should check out before you pull the trigger. Every single resource or site below I use. Pay particular attention to Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau. Wisdom and passion.

Getting Real by 37signals is absolutely a must read if you plan on making software, an application or even just for clarity of purpose.

Some stuff from Seth Godin – ignore him at your peril.
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/07/win-place-or-show.html
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/the_dip/
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/07/death-spiral.html

Chris Guillebeau – also brilliant
http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/all-the-things-you-dont-need/

General:
http://pebblestorm.com/2009/07/28/how-money-can-mess-up-and-help-your-unique-genius/
http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/personal-musings/fear-truant-planet/
http://zenhabits.net/2009/08/the-get-started-now-guide-to-becoming-self-employed/
http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/1320/impact-marketing/
http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/personal-musings/mad-hell-anymore/
http://ittybiz.com/johnny-gives-numbers/
http://thegrowinglife.com/2008/05/when-crazy-isnt-crazy-anymore-life-balance-and-insanity/

Remember
Execution is key. Think on your ideas, then quickly execute. The key is to get something out there, then refine, constantly. People forgive imperfection, but they can’t forgive something that doesn’t exist. Give them a chance to admire you despite the imperfections.

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Making Money Online: Very Hard
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