When we meet and talk with people, the conversation often (always if Shane is there) turns to online business. Friends, family, and even strangers are intrigued by our lifestyle, and they always have lots of questions for us.
Ultimately, people want to know if online business is something they can do, too. My response is simple, yet complex.
“Online business is for anyone, but it’s not for everyone.”
What exactly does that mean?
The basic concept of dreaming up a new business is something anyone can do. Just think of something you’re interested in or something you’re good at, and think of a product or service you could sell to people.
When Shane and I started our first online businesses, we had no shortage of interests and product ideas.
The Internet has truly leveled the playing field for all kinds of businesses. Twenty-five years ago, if you were interested in something like deadwood bonsai techniques, you would need to start a corner bonsai store and rely on traditional advertising to get the word out about your products.
My guess is that your bonsai business wouldn’t last long (assuming you live in a town like mine). Today, you can do a quick web search and find over 50,000 websites discussing this obscure topic.
With over 7 billion people on Earth, odds are other people share your bonsai interest. The Internet makes it possible to reach out to those people, and more importantly, sell them relevant products.
Think about your interests and hobbies. Is there something you always search for on the Internet but can’t find? That could be a great opportunity for an online business!
Now it’s time for the tricky part – taking action. Anyone can have an idea and start an Internet business, but everyone won’t.
We ultimately decided what to focus on by creating websites that revolved around tasks we were already doing. That way, if we didn’t sell anything, we would at least be able to use the content we created to make our lives easier. We decided on a business idea and saw it through to completion.
Thankfully, we didn’t fail.
Wow, so you guys got lucky, right?
Not exactly. We believe you make your own luck. Our online business success was mostly a result of lots of research and hard work. We constantly read books and blog posts, and listened to podcasts to learn more and more about online business.
We worked late almost every evening after our kids went to bed. We took advantage of time off work to create content and products to sell. When we weren’t working at our old jobs, our lives revolved around our church, our children, and building online businesses for an entire year.
We also had a few other things working in our favor. First, my sister had been self-employed through online business for about a year before we got started and has really helped us out a lot – especially with web design (check out her website, Nuts and Bolts Media).
Second, Shane is crazy (but in a good way). He is pretty relentless when he gets obsessed with something, and boy did he get obsessed with online business.
kind of nerdy. We have a lot of prior experience with technology that comes in handy when developing websites, such as Adobe Illustrator, HTML, and audio/video editing software like Audacity and Camtasia Studio 8.
Finally, I had worked in sales and marketing for several years in the past, so I knew a little bit about marketing in general (but had a lot to learn about online marketing!).
I think people are sometimes surprised to hear that our new jobs, while awesome, do require work. Online business is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Our schedules are flexible, and we’re able to do things we couldn’t do while working 9 to 5, but it doesn’t mean we’re not working behind the scenes to keep everything going.
I’m not afraid of a little hard work. Could online business be right for me?
Maybe, but it’s not going to happen unless you take action! If you’re willing to put in the time to learn new things and you’re ready to juggle work, family, and online business responsibilities, you should go for it!
Who knows? You may be where we are by this time next year!