Entrepreneurs are a rare breed of individuals who are constantly exploring new business opportunities, whether they’re their own ideas or being pitched ones.
The majority of opportunities, no matter how good they might sound, end up being a complete money-sucking nightmare due to expensive overhead, slow scalability and low margins.
Online businesses, however, can be very appealing because they don’t have the traditional hurdles that most new ventures face. Here are four reasons why online businesses are the best investment entrepreneurs can make.
1. Offers incredible scalability
Not every online business is going to morph into a huge success with rapid exponential growth. Many entrepreneurs start an online business thinking customers are automatically going to find them and sales will pour in because they have a small footprint on the Internet.
They think a few tweets and some Facebook posts are all it will take to snowball an online business into a virtual ATM machine.
Scaling any business is not easy, whether its brick-and-mortar or an online business, but an online business has advantages. For instance, a brick-and-mortar retail store has a defined audience, typically a radius from the business location. An online business isn’t restricted and can market to a worldwide audience.
Once a successful marketing and advertising strategy is identified, an online business can simply open up its target and increase budget to grow very fast.
2. Provides limitless freedom
Online businesses offer freedom. Modern technology, laptops, tablets, business apps and VoIP communication systems are just some of the tools that allow businesses to be operated from any location.
Next time you’re in a coffee shop take a look around – someone is working on their online business while sipping coffee. Not being tied to a particular location or desk from nine to five can be very empowering.
Some entrepreneurs don’t know how to balance the freedom and fail miserably, while others use the freedom as motivation to work even harder. True entrepreneurs respect the freedom and understand that the hard work is well worth the ability to spend more time with their families and get other things done from nine to five.
3. Low overhead and high margins
An online business will often allow you to eliminate some of the huge costs associated with an offline business like pricey office or retail space and long-term lease commitments, and you can also eliminate tying up your money in stocking inventory.
A drop-shipping agreement with the manufacturer or a manufacture-to-order arrangement can greatly reduce your financial-risk and will allow you to maintain more consistent margins with less upfront cost.
Imagine you sold hats in five colour variations. In a physical location you’d need to keep all of the variations in stock because you don’t know which hat people are coming to buy.
If the yellow hats don’t sell you are forced to discount them and take a loss. Selling the same hats via drop-shipping would mean you won’t be left holding unsold merchandise that you’ve already paid for.
4. Access to a worldwide market
The beautiful thing about an online business is the ability to run it 24/7 without geographical boundaries or specific hours of operation – and online business can produce revenue even while you sleep.
With a well thought-out social media plan, search-engine optimisation and paid media strategies, an online business can thrive. You have access to the entire world right at your fingertips. The luxury of being able to target specific provinces, regions and countries gives an upper hand to online-based businesses.
What You Need To Know When Starting A Tech Business
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications.
Protecting and managing your intellectual capital starts with finding, identifying and classifying your most important human and intellectual assets. Once you know what you are looking for, you can then determine whether you have the rights you need over those assets. If you don’t, you can then go about securing those rights and then select the best methods of protecting them.
Intellectual capital, intellectual assets and intellectual property
In the industrial and manufacturing industries, the conventional forms of capital needed to start and grow a business were real estate, factories, plant and equipment. But in today’s knowledge economy, these physical assets have largely been replaced by ideas, knowledge and creativity as the new drivers of value.
This new type of information and knowledge-based capital is known as intellectual capital. Your intellectual capital is basically all the knowledge, skills, capabilities and work product that you and your team have to offer, together with the relationships, reputation and brand equity that your business is able to attract and maintain in the marketplace.
Intellectual capital is made up of the following:
- Your ideas, insights, knowledge and creativity (intellectual assets)
- The talent, skills and capabilities of your team (human capital)
- Your contractual relationships and connections with investors, customers and other stakeholders (relationship assets)
- Your unique brand and the reputation and goodwill you have built around it (brand assets)
In the same way as we as individuals have a whole lot of information and knowledge, some useful, some useless and trivial; your business’s intellectual capital can also be categorised according to its uniqueness, usefulness or value.
Where your intellectual capital displays these additional qualities, it may qualify for statutory legal protection. These special assets, commonly referred to as intellectual property, are bestowed with rights and protections which give the owner a period of time (limited) to commercialise or exploit them without any undue or unfair interference from others. The trade-off is that after that period of time expires, the asset becomes part of the public domain for anyone and everyone to use.
Discovering what intellectual capital you have and need
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications. Copyright law without the need to register rights or comply with any further formalities automatically protects most of these assets. However, it is still necessary to identify and categorise those assets because the ownership rights and the ways to protect them may differ between the different types of asset.
At the same time, there may also be a wealth of other intellectual assets tucked away in your filing cabinets and hard drives, waiting to be discovered. These may include valuable trade secrets, know-how, methodologies, customer learning, and market research.
Once you have linked the value drivers and competitive advantages in your business with the assets that produce them, list those assets and classify them according to the structure that they take. Are they people-based or embedded in technology or documentation. Do any of them qualify for statutory protection?
The outcome should be an inventory of all your intellectual capital, classified according to the different levels of protection available as well as their importance to your business. You probably don’t have the time, energy or budget to protect everything, so taking the time to do this exercise will ensure that you separate the wheat from the chaff which will save you in the long run.
10 Cheap Businesses You Can Start In South Africa That Offer Uniquely Local Relevance
There are a few businesses that are more likely to thrive in South Africa than others. Here’s a list of 10 that meet the needs of the country’s people.
Brand South Africa believes that despite a slowing global economy, South Africa remains one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. It is also Africa’s most sophisticated and diverse economy, according to the organisation.
This diverse composition of the South African market and consumers discerning tastes, which vary from region to region and province, represents a good opportunity for the entrepreneurially-minded to capitalise on.
So, why not start a business that caters to the particular needs of South African clientele? Here are a few business ideas that can be started with relatively low capital input:
- Bunny Chow and Kota Food Retail Business
- Uniquely South African Clothing Business
- Ready-to-Eat Baby Food Business
- Mathematics Upskilling Business
- Low Sugar Refreshment Business
- Aerial Drone Photography Business
- Small Batch Beer Brewing Business
- Niche Project management Business
- Tax Consulting Specialist for Start-Up Businesses
- Mobile Hair and Beauty Specialist Business
A Step-By-Step Guide To Selling Consulting Services
Do people often ask for your professional advice? It’s time to start charging for your consulting sessions.
Ever since I launched my YouTube channel where I talk about different strategies regarding B2B selling and inbound marketing, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from my audience to hop on a call with them and help them out.
This is how I got started offering consulting services to different companies and entrepreneurs. Based on what I’ve learned, here’s how to structure these consulting calls so you can start selling them on your own.
I usually use a pretty simple email whenever I’m asked a detailed question that requires a decent amount of my time.
This email includes the price for the consulting call, which can vary, but generally starts at $300. Usually, that email is enough to get viewers to buy in.
You want to price your consulting services in a way that it makes you want to work for that amount (even if you’re not in the mood). By charging a certain amount for the consulting call, you make sure that you’re adding value and the other person is also taking your notes more seriously.
For those who are just getting into coaching and consulting, the best way to start is to assume that the person on the other end is going to get good information out of your session.
People usually join a coaching session either because they have a burning problem or they are so close to a solution that only few words are enough to solve it for them.
In some cases, people paying for a consulting session already have an idea or solution to a specific problem, but they want to have your ideas or expertise.
It is important to remember that the person won’t reach out to you for coaching if she didn’t like something about what you’re doing.
To get this meeting on the calendar, I use a tool called Calendly. There are a bunch of alternatives out there, but Calendly is a pretty popular solution.
The tool is free, but I use a version that charges about $10-$15 a month and plugs directly into my Google calendar. There are a lot of similar tools out there that you can choose from if you don’t like Calendly.
I recently discovered and started using Google Wallet. It is a free tool from Google and its pretty similar to Venmo. It allows you to input your credit card info and the amount billed is directly transferred to your account on the same day.
I’ve previously also used Venmo and Paypal, and as a company (Experiment 27) we used Chargebee for a while. With Chargebee, we had a problem where it would mess up our revenue numbers and our churn rate.
A lot of these coaching sessions are one- or two-time purchases for a very small amount of money compared to our main service offerings, so it would mess up our purchase rates.
Setting up a Google Wallet account is pretty simple and it also provides invoices. The last coaching session I did, an invoice was paid within two hours.
It is important to know whether the person purchasing a coaching session is getting value out of it.
I picked up this idea from someone with whom I used to do a bunch of coaching sessions who runs his coaching session using Google docs.
He opens up a blank Google doc at the start of a coaching session and adds notes there. Using that model, my clients and I go over different goals and questions by writing them in a Google doc and I also assign homework.
Here’s an example of a document like that.
And because all of it was done in a Google doc, everyone has easy access to it. At the end of each coaching session, I think it’s necessary to have a homework assignment that would set up the attendees on something to work for the next week.
Bonus: Should your consulting landing page have short or long copy?
There’s been a long debate among the copywriting community about whether short copy or long copy is the best. Some say that you need long landing pages outlining data point after data point in order to make someone take action and buy your services.
But, there’s another group of copywriters who believe that the short copy is more effective because of its to-the-point approach and easier click and buy operation. There are always two sides to all advice, but for us, short copy didn’t work.
Our coaching funnel normally consists of our clients watching a YouTube video and then booking a consulting call directly.
The clients would usually find the consulting page and would be welcomed by the headline, “Want me to help you double, triple or maybe even quadruple your revenue for the next quarter?”
Our landing page was converting about two clients a week who wanted consulting services on how to improve their agency business.Being a fan of testing, I thought we could do better.
My favorite coaching page of all time is one that is literally a picture of the coach’s face along with a description that says “Did you know Neville takes on four different private consulting clients?” along with one paragraph of copy and a “buy now” button – that’s it.
So, we wrote a version of our consulting page based on Neville’s, but we saw our conversions drop from where they were before down to almost zero. We had just one conversion for the entire month that we had this landing page.
Since this approach clearly wasn’t working for us, we changed back to our previous landing page. We kept a few items from the other approach.
For example, we changed the pricing section and began offering consulting packages. Having packages on the copy page increased the revenue dramatically.
The other thing that this experiment taught us is that we needed a more intense email drip to sell people on coaching. We rewrote our email sequence, which is now a five-day drip in which we basically hard sell people on coaching as they sign up for any of our lead magnets on our YouTube channel.
Even though the short copy approach wasn’t right for us, we did gain some valuable insights from the experiment.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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