Ah, working from home. If you’re sick of long commutes to a boring office, where you’re stuck 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, remote work sounds like a distant paradise.
But the reality is, working from home is more feasible than you might think – and I’ve got 50 examples to prove it. So, if your dream is to work from home, and you don’t know where to start, this list has something for you. I guarantee it.
Why working from home is so appealing
Some traditional bosses think that working from home is an excuse to goof off and do nothing, but most people have sound motivations. They want to work without distractions and interruptions from co-workers, skip the time-wasting commute, wear comfortable clothing, stay close to home for family needs and generally have more control. Plus, it’s been shown that people who work from home end up being more productive.
That being said, working from home isn’t a perfect solution. You’ll still have to work hard, no matter what you choose, and navigate a number of unique challenges, so be careful to choose your best path forward.
The rising trend
A recent Gallup poll demonstrates that working from home, or telecommuting, is on the rise, with more than a third of Americans telecommuting at least some of the time in 2015. And that trend makes sense: We’re in an era where resources, information and communication are boundless and portable, and these systems are growing increasingly sophisticated.
So, how can the average worker – maybe you? – make an actual living without leaving the home? Here are 50 ways.
1Transition from your current job
Your first option is probably the simplest; instead of looking for a new job, try to transform your current job. After all, most white-collar jobs these days can be done from home. For example, do you spend most of your day in front of a computer using software that’s available on the cloud? If so, there’s no reason you can’t tackle those responsibilities from home.
Even if you’re in a more traditional or conservative industry, the right pitch could convince your boss to transition your position to a remote one. According to Global Workplace Analytics, even government and non-profit sectors are gearing more toward work-from-home opportunities.
2Opt for a hybrid model
Maybe your boss needs you in the office for a weekly meeting, or you’re needed as an additional face for client meetings.
Consider the prospect of opting for a hybrid model, in which you work from home two or three days per week, but go into the office for the remaining days.
This may not be your ideal set-up, but it’s better than a full week of office commutes. Plus, if you do a good enough job in those few work-from-home days, you’ll have evidence that a fully remote model could work.
3Write content for others
We’re in the midst of the golden age of content marketing, and that means the world is hungry for more content. If you’re good with your words, you might as well capitalise on this trend.
Content marketing has created a high demand for original written material, so it’s not hard to find companies that need articles written regularly – sometimes daily. Reach out to content-marketing firms which employ many writers and are always looking for more talent.
Find writing jobs on Craigslist, or on Freelancewritinggigs.com. You could also sign up to work for a content mill, which is designed to churn out high volumes of content on a regular basis (just don’t expect a massive salary).
4Edit, audit or review
Depending on your skills or experience, you could also make a living by reviewing the work of others. For example, you could become an editor who reads and improves articles – rather than writing them yourself – or you could oversee the work of newbies in your industry, by reviewing photos or audio submissions. So long as what you’re reviewing is available in a digital format, it could be a perfect work-from-home opportunity (provided you have enough volume to keep you busy).
5Play video games
You read that right. It’s entirely possible to make a work-from-home career out of playing video games – that is, if you’re good enough or interesting enough. Brands like Twitch and Youtube Gaming offer gamers the opportunity to live-stream their video-gaming experiences; and believe it or not, thousands of people sign on to watch those videos and streams.
If you’re a highly skilled gamer, then, or you can find alternative, unique ways to draw a crowd, you could build a brand and an audience and earn revenue from the sites, based on your contributions. Monetise via ad revenue, tips from your audience or Patreon. Gamers Brittney Brombacher and Greg Miller are both excellent examples of people who have built a brand in the video game industry and are monetising them via these methods.
6Create a blog
One of the best ways to build and maintain a revenue stream is to create and manage a blog. This could be about almost anything: Maybe you want to review new music, or to show off your homemade co-splays. All that matters is your ability to build an audience over time.
If you can attract a few thousand monthly visitors, you can turn that audience into a cash-generating machine in a number of different ways, including getting paid to advertise, using affiliate links or setting up a Patreon account to encourage your audience to support your content-creation efforts and gain access to premium content.
Tim Urban of WaitButWhy.com has followed this route and makes nearly $13,000 per month (at the time of writing) from Patreon pledges.
If you like the idea of writing your own content, but blogging eludes you (for one reason or another), consider writing ebooks on the topic of your choice.
Ebooks are basically longer versions of articles, usually spanning several thousand words with illustrated examples and practical tips on how to accomplish something. Provided you have an interested audience available, you can charge a few dollars per download and make a substantial, recurring profit.
8Be a reviewer
Everybody has an opinion, and everyone’s a critic. If you like to share your opinions, and are able to do so articulately and in a way that benefits your audience, you may find reviewing a viable way to work from home (for the most part).
The sky’s the limit here: If you’re into media and pop culture, you could review movies and music albums. If you like board games and video games, you could review new ones emerging.
You could even review local businesses, or almost any product you can think of. Again, you just have to build an audience first.
9Be a social media marketer
Logging into social media and making a post doesn’t require any kind of physical presence; this makes it nearly perfect as a work-anywhere job. Social media marketing isn’t as simple as “playing around on Facebook all day,” but its fundamentals don’t require special skills or equipment. You’ll need experience to be successful over time, but it’s a highly learnable niche.
I’ve personally written an ebook that covers all the fundamentals of it, The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing. If you don’t have any current experience, it’s a good idea to start out by working for a small business or startup, or build your personal reputation on your own before applying for formal jobs.
10Become an SEO consultant
Like social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a marketing strategy that takes place entirely in the digital world, and it’s fairly approachable, even for newcomers.
You won’t be able to do any advanced troubleshooting or pull cutthroat competitive tactics in your first few months, but all the information you need to be successful is available to you. Just be prepared to subcontract to specialists if you find yourself stuck, or want someone more experienced to help you out.
11Become a PPC Consultant
Next up, you could run pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. Clients will pay for ad-placement costs, and give you a management fee on top of that to research, plan, organize and track the results of each ad campaign.
You can specialise in one platform or learn multiple platforms, to appeal to a wider audience. Some platforms, like Google, offer certification programs you can use to prove your credentials. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.
12Be a graphic designer
If you have design skills, you can produce graphics for individuals and businesses to use in advertising, on websites or for other purposes.
There are many ways to do this. You could become a full-time graphic designer or an independent contractor with multiple different clients. Alternately, you could use a matchmaking site like 99 Designs to get work on a piece-by-piece basis.
It’s hard to pick up design skills naturally, so if this is the route you want to go and you don’t already have the skills, you’ll need to invest in your education first.
13Take pictures or make videos for others
Freelance photographers can make significant income, depending on their skill and experience level. Of course, to take photos, you’ll have to occasionally leave the house.
If you’re interested in learning the basics of photography, there are many sites to help you get started. In a related application, you could create videos for businesses, as well; to do this, create an “explainer” video to pitch the brand, making an advertisement or just turning a piece of written content into an interactive visual experience.
14Start a video series
Speaking of videos, they aren’t just for other people. In the same way you can start a blog and make money from it, you can create your own channel on YouTube and earn money. The key here is to find a niche that isn’t currently occupied, then either inform or entertain a specific target audience (preferably both).
An effort like this will require market research, creativity, hard work and a lot of luck. But if you’re consistent, you may find it possible to generate an audience in the hundreds of thousands – maybe more – which can earn you significant recurring revenue. An excellent example is Vsauce.
15Become a virtual assistant
It’s not the most glorious job on this list, but it is one of the most in-demand opportunities for work-from-home employees.
Depending on whom you work for, you could have responsibilities as a virtual assistant that include booking hotel accommodations, organising or taking notes, maintaining schedules, compiling (digital) paperwork or even reading and researching on your employer’s behalf.
These opportunities are available in a number of different niches, so look for them on job boards, and network to find promising open positions.
Related: The Rise of the Virtual Assistant
16Fill in with Fiverr
Fiverr is a site that originated with a diversity of different freelancers offering services starting at $5. Today, most services are still $5, but more intensive services cost a little more.
Because competition is high on this platform and rates are, accordingly, low, it’s hard to make a career out of freelancing on Fiverr alone (unless you’ve mastered your niche and have a thriving target audience or reside in a part of the world with an extremely low cost of living).
Still, it’s a helpful site to round out your earnings or to make initial attempts at a newly developed skill before you start advertising your services on your own.
Do you like to cross-stitch? Do you make your own pillows? Or work with clay, or knit? All those crafts can be sold for a profit, and in some cases a pretty high one.
Different crafts offer different available profit margins, depending on the skill level involved, the amount of competition and audience factors.
However, almost any craft can be sold reliably if you know how to market yourself. You can use a site like Etsy to get started, or try to build a site and online presence on your own.
In the same way, you may be able to sell your art on the web. For the most part, you’re better off developing a personal brand for your artwork, networking actively on social media and showing off your latest creation.
Building a personal brand, moreover, will help you establish a reputation, plus people will be more likely to buy your work if they can see your face and personality on display. Of course, the subjective issue of taste in art makes it a hard business to break into.
19Come up with ideas for new businesses
If you have a creative mindset and like the idea of advertising, you could make a decent living coming up with ideas for new businesses. There are a handful of different options here; you could write company names and taglines for new and emerging businesses or even write jingles for new ads or marketing campaigns.
If you’re new to the game, you’ll have to submit to contests and similar opportunities, but once you develop a reputation and a portfolio, you can shop it around to higher-paying clients.
Do you enjoy being in the kitchen? Do people go crazy for your red velvet cupcakes? There’s a way to turn that into a business, and you don’t need to open a bakery.
You can sell your baked goods online, offering a pickup service as an option (if you’re comfortable with it) or charging for special delivery. Just be sure to check your local regulations for the sale of food products, to ensure you comply with any legal restrictions.
In general, however, there’s enormous potential for profitability here, as the cost of baking ingredients is usually low.
21Create and popularise a website
If you’re not much of a blogger, you could still create and popularise your own site. You’ll just need to find a different angle to use to strike a chord with your audience. For example, you might post comic strips on a regular basis, or accept user submissions of embarrassing photographs.
You might even offer a unique service, like a custom calculator. Any way you can build an audience is good. Once you have it, you can start displaying advertising, or selling other goods and services. For inspiration, look at the empire I Can Has Cheez Burger built just by posting funny cat pictures.
This is an especially valuable option for anyone walking away from a long-term career in favor of a work-from-home opportunity. You still have your years of experience and skills to use, so make them work for you.
Consultants, depending on their experience, can charge hundreds of dollars an hour for one-on-one workshopping, and it can usually take place over the phone or through video chatting.
Here, you’ll need to have a strong personal brand and a reliable list of references if you want to secure any deals, so prioritize your reputation first.
Coaching is a kind of informal consulting, usually targeted toward consumers rather than businesses. There are an infinite number of paths here, so use your creativity; if you have experience or an interest in physical fitness, consider becoming a weight loss or athletic coach.
If you have a wealth of personal experience, you could become a “life coach,” and help people through hard personal decisions or life events, over the phone or through a personal chat.
As happens with consulting, you’ll need a strong reputation first, so that should be your first priority. Author Brenden Dilley is an excellent example of someone monetizing his expertise as a life coach.
If you’re savvy at online marketing, you can buy websites that aren’t reaching their potential, fix them up, market them, monetise them, and then sell them for a huge profit. You can use a site like Flippa.com to find, buy, and list websites for sale.
Related: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
If you have significant savings to play with, you could consider turning yourself into a scaled-down version of a bank. This process is known as peer-to-peer lending, and has become quite common thanks to technology that makes it easier to accomplish.
Depending on what platform you sign up for, you’ll have various options, such as making one-on-one loans, or pooling your assets with others for loans, and you’ll choose different “grades” of clients that offer different levels of risk and reward.
26Do data entry
This is another job that isn’t especially glamorous, but it’s available (and will continue to be for the indeterminate future). If you don’t have deep or niche skills, this is a perfect way to get started with a work-from-home job.
You could be filling numbers into a spreadsheet, entering invoices into a database or fulfilling any number of other tasks. It’s a bit mindless, but for some, that’s less stressful than most jobs.
Next up, you could learn to program. There are dozens of different programming languages available, for applications that range from creating custom websites to making your own video games. This is one of the most versatile options on this list because programming is in such high demand and is valuable for so many things.
If you’re skilled in a worthwhile language, your potential is virtually limitless. The problem is usually getting started. Thankfully, sites like Codecademy are available to teach you everything you need to know, completely for free.
Once you learn a programming language, you’ll gain experience quickly by knocking out odd jobs for various employers or by working full-time for one with a specific niche. But eventually, you might turn to more creative work.
If you create your own app (which is much like creating your own website), you could potentially create a stream of recurring revenue that lasts indefinitely, especially if you charge for downloads, offer in-app purchases or double down on advertising.
29Focus on real estate
If you have the spare capital, consider investing in a rental property (or two). If you take your time and choose good tenants, you should be able to earn more in rental income than you’ll spend in mortgage payments and maintenance.
This alone may not provide you a full salary, but it’s a nice extra chunk of income that you won’t have to leave your house for. Just keep in mind that landlords do have many responsibilities, including ensuring proper maintenance of the property and handling tenant turnover.
30 Open your home
If you feel comfortable with having other people in your own home, you can open it up temporarily to new guests in a handful of different ways.
You could rent out a room or rent the entire place to travelers with an app like Airbnb. Or, if you’re feeling even more entrepreneurial, you could convert your home into a full-on bed and breakfast. Either way, you can take care of almost all your responsibilities from the comfort of your home.
31Tutor and teach
Chances are, you have something you can teach.
- Were you a rock star accountant at your last job? Perhaps you can teach people to do their own taxes.
- Do you remember being a whiz in calculus in college? Consider going to a college campus and offering your tutoring services.
- Do you know how to play an instrument? Post a classified ad for one-on-one lessons.
Most things can be taught in your own home, and once you build a reputation for yourself, new students will constantly trickle in.
Most businesses rely on a sales team to secure incoming revenue, and those salespeople typically rely on phone calls and emails to make new contacts, so why not step into that role yourself?
You can try for a full-time sales position you can do from home, or you can work out a deal to earn a commission for each sale or referral you make to a given company. If you have sales experience, this could be a lucrative opportunity for you.
If you’re less about closing deals and more about finding the best fits for an organisation, you can prospect instead of sell.
As a sales prospector, you’ll be leveraging your network of contacts and pools of potential contacts given to you by an organisation, or tapping other sources to find interested candidates to pass on to other sales staff. Prospecting jobs are usually less stressful than full-on sales roles, but they don’t have the same income potential.
You don’t need any special training or education to be an underwriter, but you will need to become familiar with the underwriting processes of the company you apply for. Underwriting is the process of analysing risk and value, usually in the financial and insurance industries.
There’s often a straightforward process to follow, which includes collecting information, entering data, doing calculations and making judgments based on what you know, meaning that this work can be done entirely from home in most cases.
35Take surveys and participate in focus groups
Companies are more than willing to pay people for their opinions, often in the forms of surveys and focus groups. The amount of money you make here can vary wildly; you might make only $1 for a survey that takes you 20 minutes, or you might get $150 for watching a pilot of a TV show and giving a few statements about what you think.
If you enjoy this evaluative work, it can be worth pursuing, but don’t expect a massive paycheck. There are many sites dedicated to helping you get started.
36Flip garage-sale finds
This option veers slightly toward cheating, because you’ll have to leave the house at some point.
Many people have made a living by going to garage sales, thrift stores or even junkyards to find inexpensive yet valuable goods to “flip” on the internet and sell them for more than they originally paid. Depending on your profit margin, there’s really no ceiling to your earning potential here.
Thanks to the prominence of online project-management software, you can be a project manager from the comfort of your home.
Help businesses complete development projects, writing assignments, design jobs or anything else you can think of. If your skills lie in organisation, communication and coordination, this is the job for you.
People build new websites, apps and games all the time, but before they roll them out to the public, it’s important they be tested for quality.
Quality assurance testing (QA testing for short) is a gig that lets you try out these products while they’re still in beta. It helps if you have experience in programming or UI/UX design, but that’s not necessary in most cases.
You could also offer research as a service to companies, in a number of different ways. If you’re assisting a busy entrepreneur, you could help that person by reading new books and summarising them.
If you’re working for a marketing agency, you could conduct surveys and other forms of market research. People are willing to pay for information, so if you can get it easily, you can land a steady gig.
Event planners have the potential to make big money, depending on their experience and the nature of the event.
You could go the professional route, working with non-profits to throw major fund-raisers, or the personal route, planning things like weddings and birthday parties. Either way, your ability to organise, co-ordinate and entertain people will come in handy.
Related: Event Planning Sample Business Plan
Do you know a second language? If so, you could probably find easy work as a translator. Common language translations, like Spanish to English, or vice versa, will offer plentiful opportunities for a relatively low rate, while rarer languages, like Farsi, will provide fewer, but more lucrative opportunities.
Consider expanding your knowledge with a third, or even a fourth language to maximise your opportunities. You can even do it for free.
We live in the information age, and companies are desperate to gather and interpret as much data as possible – whether that’s information about their customers, data points for their marketing campaigns or financial information. You can fill a need by creating reports from these data points and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations from them.
The only problem is that you’ll probably need some experience in data analysis to do this. Beyond that, there’s no need to go to a physical office to work, since data is accessible anywhere.
43Hire and scout
Human resources is always going to be an important industry, and you can help fill the gaps for companies in almost any sector.
Most companies don’t have any problem attracting applicants for entry-level jobs, but when it comes to top-talent positions, they rely on active scouting to find the best candidates.
Build your social media presence up as a recruiter, and you’ll be able to scour the social web for the perfect candidates for your clients’ job openings (and make decent money in the process).
44Be a transcriptionist
As you might imagine, transcription is not a labor-intensive or skill-intensive job, and accordingly, pay is minimal. Still, typing out subtitles for movies, TV shows and other forms of video and audio can be a source of extra income.
If you’re interested in building a more stable job from this opportunity, there’s one solid-paying area to try: the medical industry. Writing out dictated voice memos from physicians pays more and demands more, but is still approachable enough for almost anyone to learn.
45Make websites for others
Thousands of people want to make new websites every day. The problem is that most of them don’t know how to do it, and they’ll gladly pay someone who can walk them through the steps.
Even though we’re now in an age of emails, texts and social media, many people still prefer phone calls when they need customer service. That means companies need people to answer those calls.
While working in a call centre may not be your idea of a great career, it’s much more pleasant when you’re using a headset in the privacy of your own home. This is an especially valuable option if you don’t have a wide skill set or you’re interested in having minimal responsibilities.
On the flip side, you could find a job that has you making calls, as well. I’ve already included general sales positions on this list, but there are many other opportunities to make calls for businesses.
You may find yourself prospecting for other members of the sales staff, or following up with customers to capture their opinions about a recent purchase. You’ll have to dig for these opportunities (rather than making them yourself), but they’re out there.
48Provide IT support
Almost every business needs some degree of technical support, whether it’s for their employees or for their customers. And even if you don’t have a degree in computer science, you likely have the technical prowess necessary to fill that role.
If you use a remote desktop app, you’ll be able to access other people’s devices without having to be nearby; and for most other issues, you’ll be able to talk or chat people through the process.
49Open shop in or around your home
If you have a skill that requires some level of human contact, you can always open up your business in or around your home – that way, you can get the best of both worlds. For example, if you’re an auto mechanic, you could open a small car repair business by using your driveway and your garage (if it’s big enough). Or, if you’re an accountant, you could set up a home office to help people with their tax returns.
50Buy a franchise
Buying a franchise is only an option if you have free capital to invest, but it can be advantageous. When you first start out, you’ll need to be hands-on with the business and to make in-person visits from time to time. But eventually your operation should stabilise and provide you a stream of revenue that doesn’t require much work beyond occasional remote communication.
Where to look
All these options sound nice, but where can you actually find jobs like these?
- Ask and network. Your first option is to simply ask. Talk to your bosses and supervisors about the possibility of transitioning to a remote position. If that doesn’t work, go out and network; try to meet people offering opportunities you can take.
- Get new education and training. If you don’t currently have the skill set for a position of interest in the list above, you can go back to college or go into training to develop it. When you do, talk to your teachers about future opportunities – they likely have connections.
- Use job application sites. You can also go the more conventional route by scouting job application boards, like Monster or Craigslist. Be smart here; not every “work from home” opportunity is legitimate, so do some research before applying.
- Use e-commerce. You could build a business using an existing platform, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy, to start selling your products, if you are selling physical products.
- Start from scratch. Finally, and most importantly, you can build everything yourself from scratch. Become an entrepreneur, launch a website and make your own rules.
How to get started
Beyond that, when you get started working from home, there are a few things you’ll need to do (or at least keep in mind):
- Remember that remote work isn’t a paradise. As exciting and perfect as working from home seems on the surface, it isn’t always a good thing. It can get lonely, motivation is a challenge, and you might just go stir crazy if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Develop yourself. No matter what you do, try to develop your skills and abilities along the way. It will come in handy in the future.
- Create a dedicated workspace. Don’t just sit on the couch with a laptop. Create a home office to earn the psychological benefits of “going to work.” Doing so also has tax write-off benefits.
- Hedge your bets. If you’re becoming an independent contractor, consider learning two new sets of skills or pursuing two types of jobs. It never hurts to hedge your bets.
- Set goals for applications (and be relentless). If you’re looking for work-from-home opportunities, set goals for yourself, and don’t give up until you reach them.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. If you want to keep your job, you’ll need to under-promise and over-deliver on everything. Competition is fierce and relationships are less personal, so your performance matters a great deal.
By this point, you should have some solid “next steps” for building your work-from-home career. Whether you’re following a lifelong passion (be careful here) or merely seizing a notable opportunity, consider this your chance to earn a significant salary without leaving the comfort of your home (unless by choice).
The world of working from home is far less intimidating and less fantastical than it seems. All you have to do is work for it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Selling The Dream
When you’re starting a business, the secret to success is getting everyone — from customers to suppliers — buying into your vision.
I started a company in 2016 offering road building in residential areas for local municipalities. I realised that there is too much risk involved and I do not have the capital to purchase machinery. The overheads are also too high. I feel more comfortable supplying municipalities with commodities. I have been in sales and have good people skills and sales experience. However, I’m struggling to get a foot in the door. Manufacturers are reluctant to give me a credit advance. As a result, I had to let go of many opportunities. How do I overcome this obstacle? — Martin
I can only speak from my own experience selling to municipalities. I did it once, successfully. This is how I did it:
- I convinced the municipality to roll out public WiFi in low-income communities.
- The municipality awarded me a contract.
- With that contract in hand I shopped around to find a company that I could sub-contract. That company had to take a risk that the municipality would pay me, and I would in turn pay him. I had to take the risk that the sub-contractor wouldn’t deliver the goods.
- I found a sub-contractor.
- We deployed the WiFi.
- The municipality paid its bills.
- There was never a hint of corruption.
In retrospect I realise I was the beneficiary of a succession of benevolent miracles.
Miracle No. 1: Meeting a political leader that shared my vision and was competent.
Miracle No. 2: Getting a legitimate contract out of a municipality.
Miracle No. 3: Finding a sub-contractor I could trust, and that trusted me.
Miracle No. 4: Successfully working with the municipality to fulfil the contract.
Miracle No. 5: Getting paid by the municipality.
Miracle No. 6: Avoiding corruption.
If you believe in miracles, keep going. If you’re slightly more risk-averse (or less desperate) than I was, then rather don’t target municipalities to build your business.
You’ll note that I solved the supplier credit problem by finding a sub-contractor that trusted me. That’s the only way to do it. Not only do you have to sell the dream to the customer, you must sell the dream to the supplier. I recommend reading Shoe Dog, the story of Phil Knight and Nike.
I want to start a business, but I don’t know how to approach my local bank or investors, probably because I don’t have any experience in the business field. I am currently in a full-time job and holding on to the security of the monthly salary (which I know is wrong) but I have responsibilities. How do I break out? — Lorenzo
First, the security of a monthly salary is under-rated. Don’t be so quick to wish it away! Of course, a salary is a long-term dead-end. When you’re forced to retire at 65, you’re likely to be staring at 35 years of supporting yourself and your family relying on pension and savings alone. Assuming they don’t retrench you before age 65.
Be grateful for a salary, but be on the look-out for a way to make a living on your own terms.
That way you will learn skills that can be used after forced-retirement age, and even more important, you will be able to keep yourself busy rather than spending your old age pottering around the house in boredom and driving your significant other mad.
Forget about banks and investors. If you want to start a business, you must do it without ‘other people’s money’. Find a problem in your industry, solve that problem, get paid for solving the problem. Repeat.
Ideally find a like-minded colleague that you trust, pool your efforts and partner to find a way to make a living in your own business. Partnership massively de-risks entrepreneurship.
Related: Pay Your Dues Before Raising Capital
Alan Knott-Craig’s latest book, 13 Rules for being an Entrepreneur is now available.
What it’s about
It’s easy to be an entrepreneur. It’s also easy to fail. What’s hard is being a successful entrepreneur. For an entrepreneur, there is only one important metric of success: Money. But life is not only about making money. It’s about being happy. This book is a collection of tips and wisdom that will help you make money without forgoing happiness.
Get it now
To download the free eBook or purchase a hard copy, go to www.13rules.co.za. To browse Alan’s other books, visit bigalmanack.com/books/
5 Lessons To Follow As You Take Your Product To Market
Don’t overly complicate things when launching your business. Instead, follow this advice from a successful entrepreneur so you’ll do things right.
When launching a new business, product, or service, the most common mistake entrepreneurs make is trying to do too many things at once in the belief that going to market with “more” is better.
It isn’t. During your initial launch period, or when relaunching new products or services, “more” means additional risk. More also means unnecessary complexity, as well as additional time to market, so more capital will be required.
Below are some important things to remember as you prepare to take your product to market:
1. Don’t try to build Rome in a day
I have a good friend who raised $2 million in a very tough market to start a consumer internet business. Finding that much money to start a new business was amazing, and I congratulated him on a big win. He was ecstatic and told me he couldn’t wait to get to work on the site.
One year later, I ran into him again and asked how it was going. He sang the blues. He said he was doing terribly. In fact, he was on his way to his attorney’s office to shut the company down. They had launched a few months before but had already run out of money. I asked how that was possible, and he talked about his big vision, how his company aimed to provide everything their target customer could possibly want to buy in the category. Their goal was to be a one-stop shop. He and his team invested all their time and money building something big and comprehensive, confident their target customer wouldn’t want to go anywhere else once their website was up and running.
When the company got started, they were solving one problem for one target customer. It was a simple concept. But when the money came in, everyone started working on other “great ideas” and “shiny objects.” They kept building and building and building. They went from solving one problem for one very specific target customer to building a one-stop shop that did a lot of things for a lot of different people. Then they started running low on cash, so they decided to push the product out.
After the launch, they learned, much to their surprise, that about 95 percent of their users used just 5 percent of the site! And that 5 percent was the original product to solve the original problem.
So that means 95 percent of the time and money invested was essentially wasted. What can you learn from this?
2. Focus on one thing, the simplest thing
When kicking off a new product or service, put all your energy and focus into that product or service. Focus on one thing at a time. It shouldn’t be the hardest thing; it should be the simplest, what we’ll call the minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP provides the opportunity to learn the most about your customers, with the least amount of time, money and effort.
The MVP puts you in a position to go to market quickly, collect valuable feedback and not waste time building things customers don’t want. This strategy significantly mitigates your risk and helps avoid the trap my friend fell into. Remember, Amazon started just as an online bookseller.
3. Follow the 85-percent rule: Good is good enough
Striving for perfection is the enemy of any product launch. As a rule of thumb, when the new business or product is 85 percent of the way there, you’re ready to go. In my experience, the level of effort required to reach 100 percent isn’t worth the additional time and expense at this stage. You’d be much better off getting something into the market and beginning to test.
4. Be great at collecting, and learning from, feedback
Once you’ve launched, listen to and learn from your users. Develop feedback loops to learn everything you possibly can.
- What do users like and dislike about the product or service?
- What features would they like to see added to enhance their experience?
- Which features don’t work or generate little interest?
Do whatever you have to do to engage with your users. That may include offering incentives to get feedback on surveys or in focus groups, reaching out on social media, or generating outbound calls to learn more.
The hardest part of this process for many entrepreneurs is to be completely receptive to what customers tell you. Given your passion and all the time you’ve spent on the project, you may not want to hear negative feedback. You may be inclined to think the customer just doesn’t get it. But feedback is the most valuable tool you have as an entrepreneur. So listen, consider, and use what you learn to iterate, improve, or even throw out some of what you have built or planned.
5. Avoid the shiny ball syndrome
As you start developing your MVP, you must fight “feature creep” at every step. You, your team, partners, and everyone else you share your vision with will have ideas about what should be added. While many of them will sound good at the time, they are instead shiny objects that distract you.
Your job is to stay focused on one thing, get it to market and then deliver the next thing. By focusing on one thing at a time, you can get to market quickly, learn a great deal about your product or service from actual customers and make changes based on their feedback And if your launch doesn’t fly, you have significantly mitigated your risk.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Launch An Online Coaching Business
Cut through the noise and create a viral product.
Work from home? Control your own schedule? Impact people across the world with your product or service?
Internet marketing is on the rise for a reason. It gives you the ability to scale your business to a global level without forfeiting your personal freedom. Still, there’s one question that still prevents entrepreneurs from entering the online space: “Is it really possible to make a living off the internet?”
Not only is it possible, it’s lucrative when done correctly. We live in the Golden Age of internet marketing. Thanks to social media, everyone can get in front of a camera and pitch their idea to the masses. Good enough, right?
Not quite. These days a big idea will only get you started; it’s what you do to bundle and package that idea that matters. Here are the three steps you need to take to launch a profitable online business.
Flesh out your idea
Of course, before you create your product, you need an idea. Your idea must solve a specific problem that a specific group of people face. Make sure you establish that before you move forward.
Now, before you begin creating your product, you need to write your sales copy. Your sales copy (or sales video, if that’s what you prefer) should be enticing enough to take prospects from “I’m interested in this” to “I need to buy this now.”
Related: Paddy Upton: People Centred Coaching
But, why write your sales copy before creating your product? Too many entrepreneurs write copy that promises a lot but delivers next to nothing. When you write your copy before creating your product, you build the blueprint to create a product that satisfies your customers’ needs –without overpromising.
Your sales copy should address the prospect’s problem, explain how your product is the solution to that problem, and include a list of bullet points that summarise the benefits of your product. Make sure you nail the first 500 words – easily the most read section of your sales copy. Finally, always create a sense of urgency or people at home won’t be motivated to buy your product.
People always ask me, “Well, what if I’m not a good writer?” That’s OK. Just say your pitch out loud, record it and send it to an online transcribing service. For a relatively inexpensive price, you’ll get your sales copy written out for you. Just review it, copy it and paste it to your website and boom – there’s your sales copy!
Build the “know, love and trust” factor
Most people believe you need to sell prospects first, then deliver results. But, what if you flip it? It’s much easier to sell someone once they know, love and trust you as an authority in your space, rather than selling them on your product before they even know if you can deliver the results you’re promising.
That’s why the most successful internet marketers – including myself – give away boatloads of free content via blogs and videos. Granted, the stuff we give away for free could easily be packaged together into a high-priced course, but that would be short-sighted. You don’t want prospects to buy from you once and move on – you want them to become long-term paying clients.
See, you deliver free quality content to your prospects, then they take it and implement it into their businesses. They start to see results in advance, which leads them to trust you more and more. Soon, they begin to crave more knowledge from you, and their willingness to pay for your products and services increases.
Eventually those prospects become your most loyal clients. They buy your front-end products, your upsells and your flagship products – all of which I’ll get to in just a second. But, before you get that far, make sure your prospects know, love and trust you before you worry about selling them anything.
Create your front-end product and upsells
Once your copy is written and you’re building the know, love and trust factor, your next move is to create a front-end product – a product that’s easy to sell. This could be an ebook, a membership site or a course that comes with follow-along videos.
Now, you might be tempted to charge a high price for that product. Here’s the thing: Most of the money is made on the back end. I’ll talk more about this in a second, but for now just remember that the front-end product is not the final product you’re really trying to sell them. I – along with many of my fellow internet marketers – don’t mind breaking even or losing money on front-end products because I know I’ll more than make my money back with my flagship product.
Instead, your aim should be to use that front-end product to upsell them instead. So, after they purchase your front-end product, offer them three different upsells. An upsell is a higher-priced product or service you offer a customer after they’ve bought something from you. These upsells should be done-for-you, and they should enhance the front-end product by making it easier to understand or more efficient at getting results.
Why are upsells so important? Besides adding value to your front-end product, you’ll be able to recruit more affiliates to promote your business. An affiliate promotes your product to their own audience for a commission fee. If you make money through upsells, affiliates will choose to work with your business over your competitors because you can pay them higher commissions. The payoff? You get more traffic going to your webpage and ultimately more bottom line revenue.
Move them to your flagship product
That’s how you set up the front end of your online business. But, what about the back end? Remember I said that most of your money will be made on the back end and not the front end?
That’s why you need a flagship product to pitch your clients once they’re done with your front-end product. But, what in the world does a flagship product look like?
It could be high-end coaching sessions. It could be a spot in your exclusive mastermind group. It could even be a suite of software that teaches them everything they need to know about their industry. The front-end product is a way to get your clients through the door; your back-end product is the money-maker product, the one they’re more likely to buy once they’ve already purchased something from you.
I’ll give you an example. People will often find my products online. Usually when they finish using those products, they’re still hungry for more knowledge and advice. At this point, they’re considered qualified leads for my mastermind program, so we make sure they know about that programme and how to become a member of it.
That leaves you with one problem: How do you send marketing emails to every single person that buys your front-end product/upsells? It’s basically impossible, unless you’re in front of your computer screen 24/7 (which I’m sure you’re not). Fear not, because it’s actually easy to do when you use an auto-responder system to send out all those emails on your behalf.
It’s simple: When your clients purchase your front-end product, the system automatically sends them emails from you. That way, you can build a sequence where you give away even more of your best free content before sending them an offer for your flagship product. By the time they get to your flagship product, they’ll be so confident in your expertise and results that they happily pay the higher price for your higher level of service.
That’s the simple science behind converting your prospects into clients, and your clients into fiercely loyal clients. It’s how you sell your highest-priced online programmes without running into any of the typical sales objections. Follow these three steps and start building your own online business empire today.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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