“Here, Steal My Best Internet Business Ideas”
Every day of every week, at least one person asks me if they can steal my best internet business ideas. Because my ideas work. Nine years ago I began finder.com.au as a little start-up, and now we’re Australia’s biggest comparison site dealing in seven-figure sums, and I have learned a lot on that journey. So this is what I tell them;
I’m actually more than happy to share the answers to those who ask for the tips you pick up on a journey like the one I’ve experienced with finder.com.au - but there is one thing that I always leave out. One magical secret that only the most successful internet business people seem to know about. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The question normally goes a little like this:“Fred, I have this website and I was wondering if I could have a coffee with you (i.e. pay you nothing for your time) and pick your brain (i.e. steal your ideas) because <some reason why they are failing>.”
My answer is a checklist, and the magical secret is… don’t stop at just one of the stages. So, here they are:
4 Essential Steps to Successfully Getting your Internet Business off the Ground
1. TEST A GOOD IDEA.
- Is there demand for the product or service?
- Use: Google keyword tool to check keyword demand, search leading forums for topics often discussed by consumers about the product or service.
- If you already know of a problem people have because of your career experience, that is fine too, but still read up about it online because you might find that the lens you’re looking at the problem through isn’t the same as everyone else’s.
2. HAVE YOU TESTED IT?
Have you put something on the internet and tried it out? Have you figured out in a low cost way if there is demand and if you can fulfil it?
- Most people initially say that they can’t test because they need to build a website before they can start. I think this is not the case in 99% of start-up businesses online. Let me tell you a quick story of how most businesses start.
- eBay, Etsy and Gumtree is where you begin. If you boiled down your business idea into a simple thing to sell or a service to offer and put it on eBay or Gumtree respectively, you will get the fastest response to your business idea.
- Example: Let's say you want to start a website that sells drone photographs. If you start by posting a classified ad on gumtree offering the service - perhaps post it here:http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-drone+photography/k0 - you might offer up selling your drone photography services.
- I found a competitor while testing, what do I do?
- If there are competitors, this is a great sign. It means there is probably a market for your business model. It’s time to compete!
3. DID IT WORK? Did you make a profit from your test?
- It’s really important that this is a profit we’re talking about, not revenue, as you need to take into account your costs as well. Because if the activity generated some revenue, but with extraordinary costs, you are still going to incur those costs in the future.
- It’s really a binary question of did it work or not. It either made money or it didn’t.
What do you do if it didn’t?
- Try another experiment - Experiments are cheap and should be done all the time. It’s probably my number one secret. I am a constant experimenter.
- No one replied, there is no demand - I am not a big fan of manufacturing demand. I believe in delivering on what people already want and competing for it. If you are trying to make a new fashion label, or a new type of coconut water, or some sort of new cupcake, you are going to need to go down the fashion marketing route and I am not the guy to listen to. I prefer to market to niches that already have demand and you are just competing for marketshare or fulfilling a new demand.
- Tweak the marketing - Your offer might not have been compelling enough. If you have already proven there is demand for what you have, then your marketing may need improvement.
- Tweak the price - You may have to put the price up to make it move from revenue to profit.
- Rethink the business problem - Sometimes when you are solving a problem for a customer you actually find another really good problem along the way.
4. COULD YOU SCALE IT?
- Once you have proven an idea works. DON’T try and figure out another one. That is how you fail as an entrepreneur. Any entrepreneur that has multiple business ideas running at the same time usually fails. Focusing on one key idea is how you win. At the start you might have a couple of ideas running at the same time, but pretty soon you will realise that one has the ability to scale and the others don’t.
- Just focus on the idea that works and scale it! If you can make $1 of profit, you need to figure out how to make $10, then $100, then $1,000, then $10,000, $100,000, $1,000,000… after you have achieved that, you will probably have smarter people working in the business that know how to scale it even further!
So there you have it; four easy steps to success. Here are some answers to additional questions I often get asked at this stage?
- Do I need funding? No. It costs $9 for a domain name and $100 for hosting if you decide to get serious. Install WordPress for free and put a $9 template on it and get your business off the ground before you get investors.
- Do I need to be technically minded? No. It sure helps, but you don’t. You can just purchase technical services on upWork at first. There are thousands of tutorials and guides out there that can teach you what to do.
- What if my experiment works, won’t people be unhappy that it’s so small scale? Customers just want what is on the tin. The definition of quality is “Compliance to requirements.” If you are going to take a photo of my house with a quadcopter and you do it, I will be happy. I don’t really care what the branding looks like.
Got a question?
Write in the box below if you have a question, and I will personally answer it.