When we talk about starting an online business, becoming an Entrepreneur, the ads make it all sound so… EASY, right?

Just get a domain name, set up your web hosting, install an instance of WordPress, load up a theme you like the looks of, and in minutes (multiples of 60 to be really honest) and start typing.  You are a blogger! Congratulations!

What? What’s that? You don’t know what a domain name is or how to redirect it to the other place it should open? What are preferences? And how do you set them up?

Beyond that, there are more details no one even mentioned in the slick ads.  If you want to make money with your blog, exactly how do you do that?  It really was a lot easier when we just wrote letters by hand… Lol!

Having “A Why That Makes You Cry”

I wrote out some of the questions I had to grapple with when I formalized my business after having a blog for already 4 years.   This is the thought process and questions that need to be addressed when you decide you want to start an online business- it’s more than just having “a why that makes you cry”.

 

(I could have retyped all this- put it in a Cheat Sheet, made it look pretty, and left it sitting on my desk till I got it just perfect…)

 

UPDATE: As you can see I did go back and put this in a mind-map after all to make it easier to read and use. Download the free .pdf here!

 

When looking back, I wanted to start an online business. Why? Because the network marketing group I was in had so many people who just gave up.  That bothered me… a lot.  Why should people buy systems and products that “should” give them a turn-key business to build, only to find they need to sink more money in and still not get anyone to stay past a 7 day free trial?

This computer business idea, instead of being simple as the ads say, was just too foreign, too complicated, too unknown. What is a back office?  When did a dashboard go from being a part of my car to being something I need to watch?  I just want to blog- and now you tell me that to blog, I need more viewers and to do that I need to build a list… and to build a list I need to do that SEO thing. And then I need to jump on a Skype call to get the time for our Hangout; or check a FB group to get the link to our ZOOM!  Ay, yay,yay!  No wonder people just walk away without making that easy cash!

So You Want To Start An Online Business… 

If this sounds like you or someone you know, subscribe and make plans to read these posts.  Either we’re having these questions or we’ll laugh because we remember when we did!

My plan is to write about each topic, sharing what I did, what I learned and what I would do now if I was starting again.  I want to bring hope- you are not alone in this- and guidance to get you out of whatever quicksand you find yourself in. I want you to think about next year’s taxes and what you need to do today to maximize your deductions- yes even from a blog- and provide resources to get you official and legal so that you can keep more of what you earn.

If that sounds good subscribe here and let’s get this party started!

 

First things first… Can I Succeed?

Everyone talks about passion, mission, the why that makes you cry… but really, most people just want to make some extra money to make a better life for their family.  It doesn’t matter how as much as that it can happen.

The good news is that there are billions of people using the internet to learn things, to buy things and to share things. That means theoretically at least, that you have a market that can be taught, sold, or serviced in some profitable way.

What keeps some from making their first dollar while others tout the millions they have made is a thing called hustle.  Gary Vaynerchuk has it, and preaches it daily. Tony Robbins has it and uses it to motivate others. Kim Garst has it and that’s how she got to be the Queen of Periscope then Facebook Live.

If you have it you know it. It’s that restless feeling that you have to do more, be more- make a difference.  Just wanting to make money isn’t hustle.  The feeling that to make $100 you would do anything it takes, that’ s hustle… If you don’t have it naturally, don’t despair. You can learn it, and I’ll show you how.

What is it that you’re better at than the next guy?  Writing a blog with no “So What” factor will just cause people to read and say, ok, that was pleasant. But it won’t make you money. That’s not hustle.

People part with their cash when you show them how to make double that amount back.  Or because you have solved some problem that was costing them twice that each month.

What can you do for others to make their lives better?  What product or invention can you bring to the market that will make them more productive?  What will you do to make a difference in people’s lives?

In my case, I saw confused new sign-ups sitting in a group orientation. You’ve seen this a hundred times- in any meeting there will be the 10 really engaged people, the middle group listening and taking notes and the back row who had to bring 3 projects to do at the same time, while going through that onboarding process.

If you’re one of the 10, I want to save you time- with products that make list building and SEO super easy, a membership that brings products to you. I want you to get where you’re going faster and easier.

For you in that middle group, I want to give you the shortcuts, sharing what it takes to be successful, the behind the scenes tips uplines “forget” to mention (like how they spend $10,000 per month on traffic to generate those 5 high-ticket sales per day!) Yeah… I didn’t think that was part of the overview!

(Note: the people in the back row, they haven’t got the time or attention to take on a new business, so this isn’t for them!  Not to be mean, but seriously, let’s think about what it takes to win… )

 

You Know What You Want To Do, For Whom, And Why… What’s Next?

Deciding HOW to provide your products or services brings you to the legal side of things. Once you know how you want to sell, teach or coach, you have a good idea where this will need to happen.  Will your blog have an “online store” to sell the products you review?  Will your coaching service have a website from which to make appointments and hold coaching classes or one-on-one sessions?

These answers will tell you whether you need a business license, what kind of business form will be most beneficial to you, and what fees and taxes you’ll need to prepare for.

Four years ago, after having my own physical business- teaching business skills to people who wanted to work for western oil companies in Baku- I wanted to set up an online business to prepare me to transition from consulting to that “massive passive income” everyone was talking about online.

I followed a link, listened to the video and made the decision to join that night at 11:30pm- Halloween night!  I “got all in” and spent the entire night listening to video after video, filling in form after form. I understood the potential and decided how I wanted to use it.  (Relax- I am not here to recruit anyone!)  But as a teacher of business skills, I knew if I was challenged,  people like my mother would be lost and at the mercy of those who would say, just buy more stuff!  That annoyed me…  I want people to succeed, not feel like failures when they run into walls of hype and complexity.

 

Decision Time

I decided that night,  in order to do what I wanted (help other newbies succeed) I needed a business license.  I registered a business (an LLC,meaning a Limited Liability Company)  here in Virginia (I did it online) and applied for my IRS EIN (tax ID number).  Not hard to do, but you do have to do things in order to ensure the right numbers go in the right boxes.  Ideally we would all know to do this before we wanted to join a plan or program. It would be so much easier!  But as a first time business owner in Virginia (my physical business was incorporated in Delaware when I lived in Texas and worked in Baku… whew!) I faced the same unknowns as you will or have. 

Once I got the business type decided, and got my IRS forms sorted out, I could register for this network marketing system not as me but as a business.  The best advice they gave that night was to sign up with their bookkeeping partner.  Why? Because if it had not come from them that night, I would have put it on the back burner until I was making money. Then tax time would have rolled around and I would have missed out on about $28,000 of tax deductions.

**Disclaimer; not everyone will invest this much into their business in the first year, and therefore not have much to deduct, but because I talked with the planners, we organized it so that I could invest as I began making small sales to legitimately be able to deduct my set up costs etc.

This is why it makes sense to plan in advance so that we don’t leave money on the table… or even better, we can take money off Uncle Sam’s table legally!  We’ll get into more of that in the next post…

For now, if you are one of the new business entrepreneurs- solo-preneur, mompreneur, dadpreneur- whatever flavor you want to be, please take time to read the questions above and tell me which ones spark your thoughts and questions.  And what questions have I not put on the list that you are thinking about?

Don’t forget to subscribe so we can keep the conversation going.  Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on this subject– has it been easy for you or have you had more challenges than what I listed today?  Let me know, and let’s discuss!

 

The Power of Perseverance

When You Feel Like Giving Up… Take My Advice – Don’t!

Recently, as I have been re-vamping my previously serviceable-but-limited blog-only website, I hit more than a few snags along the way.  
You’ve been there, I’m sure… we all have at some point or another.  “I’ll just make this one little change…” and then boom, you’re in the depths of a full-blown re-make and don’t know how you got there.  Sound familiar?
I took my StrategyLinks blog down at the beginning of this year.  Yes – more than 6 months ago!  I thought I would just update the theme and be done. simple enough. I had done this any number of times on my 4 other sites, and never had any major indecision or complications.
Keep in mind, I have been doing this for more than 8 years, have made money on 4 websites and blogs. I know my way around font-ends and back-offices, so this should have been a relatively “no-brainer” .
But this time… whew!  This was the mother of all updates!  And about half-way to today, I wanted to give up, scrap it all, and start over.  

When we feel like giving up, or settling for
second-best, we risk losing our passion.

And without our passion, what’s the point?

But I was conflicted by all the time I had spent working with this new site that I just knew was “this close” (another 3 months close!) to being what I liked or could live with.
Note that I didn’t say it was what I wanted. No, I was only up to the point where I could “settle for something” just to get it back up and running.  And that is a dangerous place for an entrepreneur to be!
I was disgusted with the lack of progress, my inability to make this thing work,and not understanding why this particular theme was so difficult to work with.
Fortunately for all of us, the story doesn’t end there!
I’m all about lessons learned- a hold over from my teaching and corporate communications days.  Everything I do, I view as a bit of experience I can pass on to you.
So I kept thinking about what I was learning through all this ordeal, and what I could share as takeaways you could use to become a more successful Entrepreneur.  

         So here are my top lessons:    

 

image of man standing in the middle of a road, seeing his future stretch out before him

 

  • Things will always get harder before they get better!
  • Don’t be that guy who stops digging 3 feet from the motherload of diamonds.
  • Think of tough experiences as “fish tales” you’ll tell later. You know, “it was ‘thiiiiisss’ big”- just like we used to joke with our parents about walking 10 miles uphill-both ways- to school… in the snow. You’ll get through this and be better for it, I promise!
  • You’ll never gain any knowledge if you don’t have to try hard to learn.
  • Buy products that teach you and you can resell these as proven tools to your customers.  Without struggles, how can they be sure you know your stuff?
  • Always look at  problems and know there IS a way out.  It is there, you just have to keep looking, ask people (like Fiverr) for help seeing it.  Thanks to Usman for all his wise advice!
  • Success you fight for is so much sweeter than anything built for you. So just keep on going, reach out to me and tell me how I can help you “earn your wings” as my grandad used to say!

Starting anything new is hard!

Let's just get that out there... Starting anything for the first time can be downright intimidating.   I get it.   I've been there.  That picture is me, with my staff in my office in the former Soviet Union when I had a wild idea to go start a business there- with no money, sort of a plan, a little understanding of the Russian language.

Can you say crazy?

You have a dream, a goal, maybe even a plan. But between your goal of “One Ring to Rule Them All” and this starting point, lies all of Middle Earth with all the problems and challenges we know all too well.

Becoming your own boss, an entrepreneur, is pretty challenging, but it isn’t impossible. What I want to show you is that by making good decisions and choosing the right path (your system, platform, or method), you CAN do this.

You don’t have to be young, the smartest kid in class, or super wealthy to start your own business- especially not an online biz. It isn’t necessary to have a special talent, or great connections in an industry. These things can help sure, but they are not what will make your success or break it. That’s completely up to you.

It's all Completely. Up. To You…

​You have to start somewhere - It might as well be here... today!

When I was about age 8, I had an idea to sell doll clothes to people in my neighborhood. Never mind that the people next door were in their 60s. Or that the couple after that had no children at all. I made some money!

I used to take pieces of fabric and sew clothes for Barbie-type dolls (sometimes by hand and sometimes my mom would let me use her machine) and I would put them in a red wagon and go door to door in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 city blocks. 

The lesson I learned is this: People don’t buy doll clothes, they buy YOU!

I didn’t know anything about my target market or my “demographic”… I just knew I wanted to share what I had created, my thoughts and my creativity.

I continued to have ideas as I grew up, fueled by a mom who was always looking at ways to supplement her single parent income (with 4 kids, lord knows she needed help!). On my 21st birthday she gave me an Amway kit… Not what I was expecting, but it goes to show you how out of the box her thinking was.

Just before I turned 40, I resigned from my corporate job at a major oil company and decided to go to the former Soviet Union to open a business (the one in the photo above) teaching business skills to kids like our exchange students who were bright but had zero marketable skills with which to get a good paying job with the international firms flooding the former USSR after its collapse.

Not your traditional Entrepreneur's dream, for sure.

I left Houston as soon as my daughter graduated from high school knowing she was off to university in the fall with her dad. Through a series of circumstances I didn't plan on, I ended up being there 10 years.  Some good times, some hard times, but I wouldn’t trade the overall experience for any amount of money.

What I learned in those years, and more recently in running StrategyLinks, my online business, I’m going to share with you in upcoming blogs.

The coping skills, planning and selling skills- I needed every one of my life lessons to get me through.  I want you to have the benefit without having to go through the tough times.

Starting with nothing ... except a plan!

When I came back, I was divorced, orphaned (both parents passed away while I was gone), I had no driver’s license, no credit card, no bank account, no home. And yet, today I make a nice six-figure income because I had a plan and haven’t given up.

No one is going to tell you this will be 100% easy. In fact, the ads you see online that say, “No work required, no investment, 30 minutes a day doing little to nothing,” are worth just that- little to nothing! When people tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch, they're right. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, right?

So, what does this have to do with you and your dreams?

Everything, actually!

As you grow your business, take advantage of all the lessons others share.​

Starting is the hardest part, but it is where the magic happens.

Just like planting seeds in the spring, it’s where you determine what your future harvest will be- weeds or watermelons, so to speak.  So let's start with a few questions to get your thinking in the right direction.

1.   Ask yourself  where you want to be in 1 year. Write that down and put it on your wall or tape it to your
     monitor frame- put it somewhere you can see it.

For now, make it big, expansive, fanciful, concrete- whatever makes you smile. This is going to be your passion motivator for a long while so make it big and desirable. Don’t worry about the specifics to make it achievable yet, we’ll get there.

2.   Next, write down what talents, skills, interests, or other abilities you have that you want to use in
      business. Notice we have not decided whether this is online or a brick & mortar venture yet.
      For this step just lay out what tools you have to work with- that will shape what kind of entrepreneur
      you grow into.

3.   Do you like working with people, face to face? Are you better in writing or on the phone?
      Maybe you already have an exact idea of what your biz will be?
      Write it all down as specifically as you can.

Now, work backwards to see how this shapes your dream:

You want to be ________ (where), doing ________ (what), in 1 year:

...............  How much money will that require to do it, to be living that style?

...............  That means you need the potential to make how much per month?

Take the amount you estimate will be needed per month $__________ and divide that by 160 (the number of typical work hours in a month).

This is how much you will need to make per hour to achieve your lifestyle or goal.

If your goal requires more than $100 per hour,  you'll need mad skills (or you need to start learning) and big connections to make that in one year. (Two or three, more likely!)

For a new online or digital business, that amount means a fair amount of hustle to make it. It can be done, but how much are you willing to put in to make it happen? Anything less than “Everything I have” will lead you on an unhappy, unfulfilling venture.

You've got to 100% commit now or adjust your goal. It may sound harsh, but it's a truth you need to know. Most failures by entrepreneurs occur because they get discouraged and quit too soon.

For those who want to do the math, $100/hr works out to be more than $200,000 per year.  You can certainly make much more than this with the right strategies, but be aware it is also possible to end up making much less.  (In the spirit of full disclosure statistics show that only about 4-6% of online businesses make over six-figures each year; 90% make less than $5,000.)  So why would you consider it?  Because success is possible!.

If you target realistically to reach your year 1 lifestyle goals, there are a number of ways to make that without requiring a degree from Harvard (and the student loan debt that goes with it!).

Only you know if you're willing to give it your best shot or not.  

As Yoda said to Luke, "Do or do not; there is no try."

Here are 7 (scalable) ways to start making money quickly:

  • Freelance work- graphic design, creative or technical writing, dog-walking service, personal trainer, etc.
  • Online store selling courses you create teaching whatever your skill is to others.
  • Affiliate marketing- selling products of others- if you are willing to hustle to find and promote others'
      products.
  • Network marketing- joining a product marketing system (some are multi-level, others aren't)
  • Direct Sales- also known as commission sales, selling diamond jewelry, high end electronics, cars, etc.
  • Real Estate- not easy in many markets these days, but it can be lucrative despite the feast or famine
      nature of unpredictable selling seasons.
  • Multi-level Marketing (MLM)- where you recruit others to a team and all of your share in the sales of
      the team in certain planned percentages.
      (This is what my mom did, working her way up to a Direct distributor with a team she built over time.)

Being in business for yourself means either you sell your time and skills, or you sell something others create or offer.

Make a decision about this early.  Make the choice and stick to it.  Changing your mind every other day will cost you money and ultimately lead nowhere fast!

That’s enough for today. Answer the questions, think about your choices, and make some initial decisions so we can help you get started. In our next blog, we’ll talk about pros & cons and how you can get set up quickly.

In the next post, I’ll also share with you lessons I learned while setting up Strategy Links- and how making no $$$ still saved me $28K in taxes!

See you in the next post!  ​ Be sure to leave me questions and comments on any challenges you're working on!

Testing the first blog on the new theme… how exciting, eh?

(Ok, this is far from the “first” post, it’s just new to this theme- I’m in the process of bringing my posts into this new site!)

Here’s what my blogs are about:

Building Skills, Confidence & Encouragement, One Entrepreneur at a Time – Products, Training, & Coaching to Help You Create the Lifestyle You Want to Live!

And here’s a list of topics I’m covering- plus anything you have questions about as far as starting and scaling up an online biz.

  • What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur? And why are there so many version of -preneur?
  • What should you expect when joining an Online Marketing group, MLM company or Network Marketing plan?
  • How to understand the Online Marketing jargon
  • The truth about ranking on Google “Overnight”
  • Getting started using the internet for business
  • Speaking from Stage: What’s it going to take to be an online success story?
  • Inspirational Stories
  • Motivation and where does it come from?
  • What to do when you feel like Quitting
  • How to restart you efforts if you get cold
  • Making your first sale
  • How to set up an autoresponder, drip email system, and follow-up sequence
  • Writing high converting emails
  • Secrets to Conversions
  • &nbsp/

    What else would YOU like to see? Leave a comment below