Top 7 Steps to Building a Profitable Online Business!

By Jim Turner

This article is intended for two distinct groups of people: 1) those who are thinking about starting an online business and 2) those who have started an online business, but don't seem to be quite making it. As a matter fact, you may even be on the verge of throwing in the towel and retreating to a deceivingly secure position of working for someone else for the rest of your life. I hope that by the end of this article, you will be convinced that you should pursue an online marketing business.

I don't know how much you listen to the news on the radio or watch TV. But there are some disturbing things going on in the "real" world or the world of working for someone else. I pulled an article off the Reuters News Service a few weeks ago that bears this point out. After reading it, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with as many thriving and not so thriving entrepreneurs as possible.

It's a wake-up call to you, if you are currently relying upon your income derived from working for someone else to meet your primary financial needs.

Let's take a look at that news bulletin, before I get into developing a email marketing business. News Bulletin The following article, 'U.S. Firms Speed Job Cuts Despite Economic Strength,' appeared over the Reuters newswire on December 3, 1998, written by Simon Hirschfeld. In the next couple of paragraphs I will paraphrase some of the key points brought out in the news clip. It stated that while many U.S. corporations try to play Santa Claus to their shareholders, for many workers they are more like the Grinch, with layoffs at some big companies accelerating just in time for Christmas. This is occurring at at time when the domestic economy is very robust.

Get this, the number of jobs that are currently on the table to be cut will be an all-time high for the '90s. Job cuts could reach the 625,000 mark by the end of the year (1998). Another way to think about these jobs is to replace the word jobs with people. The companies planning these cuts are not the small potatoes variety, I'm talking Fortune 500 caliber. They include cereal maker Kellogg Corp., electronic systems and components company ITT Industries Inc., aerospace manufacturer BF Goodrich Co., energy company Texaco Inc. and oil and gas explorer Union Pacific Resources Group Inc. all announced job cuts.

So What's The Point? Do I need to say anything further? That leads into the heart of this article... "Are You Playing Russian Roulette with Your Future?" I say 'yes you are,' if you're relying upon these Fortune 500 companies to be your sole source of income, going into the new millennium. You're familiar with the type of roulette that I'm referring to, aren't you. This is a game played by some individuals who beleive that they are so lucky, that they can insert a single bullet into the chamber of gun, spin the chamber, then pull the trigger, hoping that an empty chamber ends up at the hammer rather than the one with the bullet in it.

Well, some people aren't so lucky in this game and the unfortunate happens. That's exactly what you're doing with your future if you're relying upon a company to be your sole source of income; to pay for your retirement, pay for your children's education, pay your mortgage, your car payment and to finance your dream vacation. It's not too late for you to get going with that idea that's been germinating in the back of your mind for years.

Thousands are doing it and so can you. If you've already thrown the line in the water and haven't been catching the trophy size bass, don't give up, you simply need to examine what you have been doing compared to those who are making it.

You need to seek these marketers out and build relationships with them. Buy their products and learn from them. A Little Background on Me Since this is my first newsletter and you don't know that much about me, you may be saying, "Well who are you and what authority do you have to be talking to me about the dangers of working for someone else."

Well, in a lot of respects, I'm very much in your shoes. I currently work for a Fortune 500 company as a senior, middle level manager, charged with leading a diverse group of 60 people in a manufacturing facility. I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineer and an MBA. I say this only to let you know that I'm not just talking about something that I read in Newsweek or Time Magazines. In fulfilling my duties as a Manager, I have had to tell some of those 625,000 people mentioned above, that there was no longer a position for them.

This had nothing to do with a lack of performance, it was the mere fact that there was a surplus of people and in order to remain competitive, we had to reduce cost. Unfortunately for these employees, the easiest cost to reduce was the cost related to people. I have friends who were in six-figure income positions, who all of a sudden found themselves out of a job. One has been out of a job for nearly two years and due to some restrictions in location, has not been able to find a comparable position.

Others have found themselves in much lower paying jobs, struggling to maintain their former lifestyles. These experiences are what have finally driven me to whole heartedly pursue developing my online business. I have been spectating for a couple of years, primarily testing the water with a few of my ideas in several direct marketing ventures, but never with the kind of vigor and intensity that I am currently.

You may as well be proactive and take action when you are not in a "storm." The best time to build a business is when you are not under pressure to have to support your family from your efforts.

Going Forward

If you truly desire to build a successful online business, here are some actions that you can take to jump start your efforts.

1). Develop a Plan of Action.

I don't mean a 20-page Microsoft Power Point glossy presentation with complimentary Microsoft Project 98 Gantt chart. I mean something you can write on the back of a #10 size envelope or on a napkin. Why do I simplify to this level? It takes away the intimidation of the process. You are simply laying out some action steps that you need to take to reach a given target. Again, make it simple and start with one goal, such as, 'get my own domain.' Then make a list of supporting actions you are going to take in order to achieve that goal or objective. Put a check mark next to each task as it is completed. This is a critical step. Without a plan and massive action, you will never reach your goals.

2). Become Internet Wise.

Spend a minimum of couple of hours a night, rather than watching TV, and just start surfing the Web, looking for successful web sites. I will include a few of my favorites immediately following this article. You can generally find them by going to some of the top search engines and entering words such as marketing, email marketing, direct marketing or online marketing. You will be able to find some interesting and successful sites. Go through each page of the site with a fine tooth comb with a special interest in the content of the site. Sign up for their ezines or (electronic newsletters), buy their products. You will get some valuable information from these marketers.

3). Find Out What Your Interests Are... So You Can Develop Your Own Products.

Somewhere, over the years, you have developed a level of expertise in something. I would venture to say that anyone over the age of 18, has some in-depth knowledge about something, even its playing video games. You need to discover something that people have a need or desire for and develop products to meet that need. Your search of successful Internet sites can give you some excellent hints.

I will give you a freebie here. Try information products, such as electronic booklets, subscriber sites, newsletters, advertising, and how-to information products. When I first ventured off into a starting a homebased business, this step was a struggle, until one day I realized that I knew a lot about writing resumes, how to successfully interview, how to perform research on prospective employers and a lot of other job hunting techniques. During my corporate career, I have been on countless job interviews, and written numerous resumes. I was amazed at how much I knew about this subject matter. It was confirmed by the fact that others would come to me for advice when they were job hunting.

So that was the area in which I first pursued my direct marketing efforts. Now I'm finding that people coming to me with questions about how to use the Internet and email to conduct business. Therefore, here I am pursuing that area. There is a huge need for fresh insight into how to successfully market products via email. It is a dynamic field. Sure there are certain givens when it comes to marketing, but there are always new insights to be gained and developed. That's where the opportunities are. I'm sure there are similar subject matters that others tend to come to you seeking your input.

This is a sign that you are a "perceived" expert in that area. You may not know everything about the subject, but you know enough to use as a foundation and build on.

4). Become A Student Again... Educate Yourself.

Think back over your work background or a particular hobby that you have. Did you know everything there was to know when you first ventured off into that area. No, you did not! You subscribed to magazines and newsletters, purchased videos and manuals, attended seminars and conventions, joined clubs related to the subject matter. You did all that to gain a deeper level of knowledge and understanding.

Well, you are going to have to do the same thing to become a truly recognized expert in your online marketing venture. You are going to have to invest time and money in adding depth to your knowledge base. Your customers will continue to expect more from you. Think of it this way, when your customers reach your level of expertise, if you can't deliver what they need in order to get to the next level of performance, they are going to go elsewhere. That's what I did and so will you. So you need to be on a path of continuous learning and development. If you want your customers to continue to buy from you, then you're going to have to stay ahead of their learning curve.

5). Develop a Relationship With Your Customers and Prospects.

One of the biggest mistakes I see online marketers making is that of trying to sell to prospects before developing a relationship with them. It's akin to asking your date to marry you on the first "date." How do you build a relationship with your prospects? Simply stated, it's done through many contacts or "dates."

The most common tactic used to build a relationship is to give your prospect something FREE: a special report, software, ebook, demonstration of your products, sample of your product or service, trial period for using your product or service or advice. There is a high likelihood that you are receiving this newsletter because you received a freebie from me; from my Smart Responder, autoresponder, email seminars or Special Reports. One strategy I use is to develop seminar or tutorial type freebies, that require you to receive multiple emails from me over an extended period of time.

My MLM seminar has six emails, with a maximum of 12 if you decide to look into my backend opportunity. My Internet Marketing Warriors offer has a total of seven followup emails, all within 15 days. I have two under development right now, one will have 14 emails in three weeks and the other will have 12 emails in a month. They all provide valueable, profit-generating information to the requestor. The repetitive emails make the prospect feel as though they know me. When prospects email me, they communicate as if they know me.

They use my first name, probably because in each email that I send them through my intelligent responder, I use their first name in the subject line and in the opening paragraph. Many times, their name is built into the body of the message. What is most amazing to me is that the prospect has the option to opt-out at any time, and yet with one of these multiple followup seminars, only five out of 275 inquirers in a months time, chose to opt-out. I attribute it to the personalized nature of the email messages.

In future newsletters, I plan to go further in depth on building relationships via email messages. The FREE items must be very representative of your "real" product or service. They can't be junk. Here is why. Let's say, you have attracted a prospect to respond to your autoresponder for a free special report. If this report is does not offer benefit laden informatio, you are not making a very good impression on that prospect. If you later followup with the prospect and try to close a sale, it's very doubtful that you will close the sale. No one wants to let go of their money for a substandard product. The prospect is going to assume that the quality of your high priced product is going to be equivalent to that of the free product. So, make sure that your free sample or report is of the same quality of the products that you later want the prospect to purchase.

6). Become a Perpetual Marketer.

One thing that I have learned from those that are being successful in online(or offline) marketing is that you must become a perpetual marketer. What I mean here, is that you must continually come up with shrewd and creative ways to market YOU and your product or service. This may be a little uncomfortable to you. You may feel that your prospects and customers should assume that you want to sell them your product and that they should act on their own. All you are to do is collect the money. Well, it doesn't quite work that way.

You are going to have to show your customers and prospects why they should choose your offer rather than your comepetitor's. This requires a high level of marketing and sales skills. You will have to toot your own horn and deliver what you claim your product represents. In order to do this, you are going to have to convince your prospects that you are trustworthy and that you have what they need at a price that is equivalent to the benefit he expects to receive. This requires thinking like a marketer. You have to think of ways to initially build the prospects level of confidence that you can "deliver" and then exceed their expectations. Once you have achieved that, the subsequent sales are "easier." It is the first sale that is most difficult.

But if you "deliver," you will have repeat purchases from that prospect for a long time. That's why your customer list is the most valuable asset that you possess. If someone is holding you at gunpoint, demanding to have your customer list or your proprietary secret to your hot selling product, give them the proprietary secrets. It is a lot easier to come up with a new product than it is to develop a list of loyal customers. NOTE: Hide that secret from your biggest competitor.

7). Discover Your Reason(s) Why.

This can prove to be one of the most important things that you do along the way to becoming an online marketing success story. You must know why you want develop a successful online business. If you don't, when the times get tough, notice I did not say if times get tough, you will not be able to stand the test. You won't be able to hang in there. The road to success is not going to be without choppy and sometimes stormy, treacherous waters. Your reason why is going to be the catalyst to get your started and the mortar to hold things together when the storm comes. There's going to come a time when you're going to run into what seems like a brick wall. Nothings going to work. No matter how hard you try, you just won't be able to make a sale.

But you have to be able to ride the storm out. If you don't have a good reason why, the easiest choice is going to be to simply throw down your weapons and raise the white flag in surrender. Your reason why may be to reduce or eliminate your debts, help pay for a kid's college education, to make your car payment, to finance a dream vacation or something more abstract, like to allow you to have more time; time to attend your kids school activities, time to take more vacations, time work with your favorite charity organization, or any number of other possible reasons. The key is that it must be important to YOU, not your spouse or significant other, but YOU.

My reason why is what drives me to put in 10 hours on my day job and come home in the evening, and as my wife says, "Go to my second shift job," from about 9:00 p.m. to sometimes 1:00 a.m., then to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep before starting it all over again. You cannot sustain this level of dedication and focus without a solid reason why.

Before you invest too much time and money in moving forward with your online business, be sure you discover your reason(s) why, because without the knowledge of it, you won't make it. You will not be able to perservere. Closing Comments On that note, I will conclude this article. Of all the things that I have shared with you, it could possibly be the one thing that could ensure your future success. Because if you fulfill all the others and don't know your reason why, chances are you want make it.

Getting back to my original question... Are You Playing Russian Roulette With Your Future? If you are continuing to rely upon your current employer, (if that happens to be someone other than yourself), to provide financial security for you, then you are setting yourself up for suicide. You have the proverbial gun at your head, hoping that the bullet is in another chamber. Sometimes you will win, but consider this, every time you win, you are increasing the odds of failure in the future. Because, sooner or later, that bullets going to be in live chamber.

Take it from someone who works at the decision making level in corporate America, you are the most dispensable asset that your employer has. So when times get tough for him, YOU will be the first asset to be eliminated, not the machines, not the buildings, YOU. So get busy building your business. So what if you have to burn a little midnight oil, miss a few of your favorite football games and even if you have to spend some of your hard earned money to increase your knowledge base. Its worth it!

Jim is the administrator of and publisher of WebPROFIT Tips Newsletter.

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