You CAN start with empty pockets and piles of bills and build a steady income, even wealth, via the internet. It’s a long, hard road though, so it’s best to prepare and take along a good map.
First, a comparison to building an offline, bricks-and-mortar business, just for perspective. If you’re young, you might educate yourself in your field, go to work for someone else, and build your experience, reputation and equity. Then you could take out a business start-up loan, rent a storefront, buy all the necessary equipment, tools, furniture and merchandise, buy advertising — and wait years to work your way out of debt and make a profit.
If you aren’t young, have a family and all the expenses and debts that go with that,and are not making enough money working for someone else to get ahead, you don’t have the same options. Night school, years of part-time education and training, with your creditors hounding you every step of the way…sound familiar?
So you turn on your computer and wonder…wish…that one of those promises of quick riches could be true for you. I wouldn’t go there if I were you.
Here are some first steps to getting started as an internet entrepreneur:
1. Honest self-assessment: There are certain qualities necessary to being self-employed. If you can honestly say that you are self-disciplined, self-motivated, determined, self-confident, patient, persevering and maybe even a bit stubborn, you have what it takes.
2. Research: You need to spend some time researching the company, the products, and the people already working the business. Is the company solid and dependable, are the company executives accessible and responsive, are the products of high desirability and quality, and maybe most importantly, is there experienced, successful, and friendly team support?
3. Support: Surround yourself with cheerleaders, mentors, knowledge, and inspiration, both on- and offline. Your family, the company, and others who have succeeded where you are treading for the first time, should all be available to you. You should never feel that you’re all alone.
4. Infrastructure: Decide what you need: computer,printer, fax, phone; whatever your chosen business requires. Create an office space that suits your lifestyle and work needs. A corner of the living room can function well if you can work while the kids are at school or if their noise doesn’t bother you, but evening work may require a separate room. Don’t put your office in the bedroom if you work evenings and your spouse goes to bed early. You need your family’s support, not their animosity!
5. Realism: It’s tempting to try a business that makes promises it can’t keep. Many tell you that one person or a few make thousands of dollars a week and so can you. None of them will point out that maybe you will be one of thousands who quit before they make a cent. “Put money in your pocket today!” Yes, but will any go in tomorrow?
Accept the fact that any business worth its salt can take time. Maybe you can begin making money in a couple months, or maybe a year. You have to be able to maintain life as you know it for however long it takes. Understand that it won’t be a steady climb to the top from where you are today; the path will go up and down.
6. Selling someone else’s product or your own: Obviously, the big money is in selling your own product. Selling for another company is a great way to get your feet wet in internet commerce, however. At first you may feel like you’re floundering in an unfathomable sea of information, but at some point will come the knowledge that you’re “getting it.” Working for a good company will leave you knowing that you have what it takes to do it on your own, if you choose.
7. Business plan: This keeps you focused, helps you develop goals, strategies and work plans; and aids in evaluating your results. It can include contingency plans, and is never written in stone. As you learn and your business develops, the plan will evolve too.