7 Steps to Starting a Successful Online Business From Scratch

IntroductionProviding instant value to very many people online has never been easier than it is today. This has also been compounded by social media platforms which have literally introduced us to new kingdoms almost overnight. The result, many millionaires being made every day. You have probably heard of the terms ‘new money’, ‘new rich’, ‘digital economy’ etc. As an example, when I really started understanding the power of Instagram, I was blown away. In 5 minutes, just by putting up 1 engaging post with entrepreneurial speak and targeted hashtags, I was able to converse instantly with other entrepreneurs in 3 different continents!But how do you and I become self-sufficient in starting a profitable online business in the first place?We must first understand the requirements and then get the right education. Self-sufficient to me means my skills for being profitable online are future-proof. Think about all-weather paint… or an all-weather road. Plan to play a big game. It is also necessary to think expansively as Robert Kiyosaki puts it.That said, here are 7 steps that I discovered to ensure sustainable business success online. Excited?! OK. Let us get into it.7 Steps To Starting A Profitable Online Business1. Passion & ClarityWe must be driven by passion. We need to know WHY we want to start the online business in the first place. As for me, I am extremely passionate about freedom and choice. I really needed a way to make money without having to report to a job that required me to work inside a brain numbing routine. I was in between boarding schools for 10 years when I was growing up and that was enough for me to find out I didn’t do routines very well. Then I started my work life and realised how much control I DID NOT have about what I wanted to DO. Become very clear about what is driving you towards starting a business online.2. GoalsThe online space can compare to a noisy street marketplace; lots of people, all wanting to be seen and heard.Define your goals clearly i.e. passive income, time freedom, geographical freedom or even one of my personal favourites, financial freedom. Then go in and start creating a business with those clear goals in mind.3. Re – Think What You Know About Being OnlineBeing profitable online can create a lot of freedom but it’s not an instant success. There’s a lot of learning and re-skilling that needs to happen. For me, this was a lot more like learning a new ‘language’. I knew the Internet very casually. It was a place to spend my free time browsing music videos, posting random Facebook posts and watching news that I did not need to know about. I had to change my beliefs and the mindset that was driving whatever I thought I knew about being online. Every time I saw an ad I thought it was a scam. Sure enough, there are a lot of scams out there but we live in a society where ‘good’ and ‘bad’ must exist in the same space. The mindset that is driving you to the online space must be one that sees the vast opportunity that exists on that platform. A chance for you to create a life that up to this point was only a dream.4. Focus On Providing ValuePeople buy from people they think they know, like and trust. As much as it is tempting to think that people are online waiting to be told what they need or don’t need, most people are online looking to solve real problems, and sometimes very painful ones.If you can understand this fact, then your focus must be genuine interest in wanting to help people, a lot of people. This focus becomes your guide for providing high-quality solutions that will fix their problems and reduce or eliminate their ‘pain’.5. Master The Art Of Marketing With All Your HeartFind a way to reach as many people as you can who have big problems that need to be fixed with your proven high-quality product or service on the Internet. With so many options available today, creativity is key. Pick 2 marketing strategies, for example, Facebook and email marketing that you have the patience to run with for the long haul. Don’t stop until you have mastered these 2 strategies.Think about Amazon today. They started with selling books. In fact, selling books is formally their core business! Think about that for a minute. That said, today Amazon sells everything under the sun. Why? Because today they are in the business of fixing peoples’ everyday problems using the Internet.6. Power Of BeliefHave the belief that it’s possible for you. Before I started online, all I had ever sold was personal electronics I wanted to dispose of using the ebays and gumtrees. However, I had heard about people making millions of dollars online… But then came the day I was contemplating my first online business. I had to face my own self-doubt. I needed to answer the following question very honestly:Eddie, “DO YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE YOU CAN MAKE MONEY ONLINE?”If you are reading this today, this will be without a doubt the most important question you will ever ask yourself as an online entrepreneur.It is impossible to achieve before we believe. When the hard times visit, this is the only one thing that will push this ‘unwanted’ guest out the front door! I had to believe I could make it online and that it would change how I lived, worked and played period.7. Mentorship and Master Mind GroupsYou have heard the saying, “we become what we think about all day”. Thoughts make us act in a certain way, which then brings a certain type of results in our lives. To be successful we must think in a certain way and act in a certain way so that we can get the results we want. With that in mind, we must spend a lot of time with people who want the same results and those who have already created these results.The people who have already created the results then become your mentors. If I was going to create a lifestyle of freedom and choice using an online business, I needed to spend time with people who had already created one. I also needed to have mentors as part of this process. So that is exactly what I did. It really is that simple.Final ThoughtIn the end, all we really want is a better more fulfilling life experience, right? Money is good, very good indeed because it creates choice. Oh, how beautiful that word is! choice. With Money being a non-issue, we can freely choose any experience we want and go for it. When money is not an issue, I can choose to have a bucket of chicken at a local KFC (my personal favourite delicacy) or have a plate of honey glazed chicken dinner served at The Hilton, where service is absolutely top notch. In both cases, I get to have my favourite food, chicken but the experience is Worlds apart right?So go ahead & take action every day and make the decision to keep going until you get there. It is impossible to fail if giving up is not on your cards.

What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?