The new business model is anything but a virtual reality
Starting a business has now become easier than ever thanks to the enormous pool of resources available right at your fingertips. The old saying, “you need money to make money” doesn’t hold true today because it’s possible to start a business with little to no funding at all. All you need is determination and the will to succeed. Read this guide on how to start a virtual business.
As Robert Kiyosaki says, “You’re only poor if you give up. The most important thing is that you did something.”
Think of fiverr.com for instance; the website that offers pretty much any service you want at an entry price of $5. Today, ‘entrepreneurship’ has become one of the hottest topics in the world as increasing number of people are quitting their day jobs in the quest of becoming their own boss.
While the path to success may not be a bed full of roses, it isn’t all thorns either. Today, you have the liberty of starting a virtual business right at home, bypassing all the obstacles that a businessman had to overcome a few years ago.
If you have been planning to start a virtual business of your own, then you’ve landed at the right place. This 10 step guide will teach you everything there is to know about starting a virtual business from home and make it succeed in your industry.
What is a virtual business?
A virtual business is a type of venture that has no physical structure and relies on the Internet and telecommunications to operate. As you’ll see, a lack of physical structure implies lower overhead and start-up costs. It requires very little, or no investment at all and anyone can get started as long as they have a computer and an Internet connection.
Countless people are now making money while traveling the world, meeting new people, and living the life they always wanted. So why doesn’t everyone start a virtual business if it’s so easy and profitable?
Well, many people think that this is not a reliable business model or they’re too afraid to take the first step. You are not one of those people! Keep on reading to learn how you can start virtual business of your own…right now.
How to start a virtual business?
1. Determine the type of business you want to run
Okay, the first step to starting a business begins with knowing what kind of business you want to run. While there are countless opportunities for making money online, to run a sustainable business, you’ll need to base it around your strengths. Ask yourself what do you love doing and if you can do it better than others in the industry.
Consider getting additional training in an area that you love but lack the necessary skills to succeed. Lay out the kind of services you want to offer and charge according to its value. Your mind may drift from one idea to another, but don’t get distracted. Keep in mind that providing few services you do exceptionally well is better than offering many of lesser quality.
2. Research other businesses that offer similar services
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles” – Sun Tzu. While we are not suggesting that competitors are your enemies, it is a fact that the business environment is fierce. Starting a business without first researching on your competitors is like taking a leap of faith with no certainty of making a safe landing.
To gauge the potential of your business idea, you need to get behind-the-scenes and see what other companies in your industry are doing. Or else you might come face-to-face with a multinational corporation that you don’t stand a chance against.
This research may alter your decisions; it may even bring up new ideas in mind and make you explore an entirely different idea. You can do research by through a Google search by typing the name of the industry+ the name of the area you want to focus. For example: “content marketing+ Manhattan” or “virtual assistant services+ Illinois.”
3. Do an in-depth study of your target market
The way how you research the ideal target market for a virtual business is very different from a physical one. Since it’s safe to assume that you’re going to be selling services globally, it’s important that you do it the right way. Otherwise, you might as well be taking a shot in the dark with little chance of hitting the target.
You must find out where your clients are located and the best strategy to reach out to them. You need to measure how much your services are wanted and determine if your ideal audience is already using it. You can do this by joining relevant Facebook groups, getting in touch with influencers, asking your friends and family, etc.
Once you understand the language your target market speaks, you will be able to pitch your services in a way that will make them want to buy. The market analysis will help you understand the core needs of your market, which will guide you in many financial and marketing decisions later on.
4. Organize your business finances
Just because a virtual business has low start-up costs doesn’t mean you can get away with no financial planning. There are still quite a few financing requirements that you must tend to. Determine how long you have to support the business until it starts making enough profits to sustain itself. Make sure to keep track of all your expenses.
Find out the estimated cost of advertising, online marketing, hiring employees, shipping, and other projected expenses. For those who are currently unemployed, consider a side gig to build up your client base and get some cash flowing in. If you already have a full-time job, look for good outsourcing opportunities.
The best thing about a virtual business is that pretty much anyone can get started with $0 investment. However, it is also a fact that having some money to invest makes things easier. Consider your circumstances and see how you can leverage your funds in the best possible way. The sooner you understand money; the better your chances of success.
5. Don’t be afraid of hiring an employee or two
Far too many entrepreneurs fail because they try to do everything on their own. While some people might be naturally good at accounting, marketing, communications, etc. most of us are not. The sooner you acknowledge your limitations and focus on strengths; the better your chances of running a successful virtual business.
Seriously, hire an employee or two if you need; at least consider hiring a virtual assistant or a part-time employee to help you out with the mundane tasks. Once you’ve got some money rolling in, hire people to do jobs that you don’t do well or dislike for any reason. Always be willing to accept your limitations because you’re only human.
If the prospect of having a full-time employee is too cost prohibitive, look into virtual employee options. You can hire a virtual employee from countries like Thailand, Philippines, India, etc. for as little as $300 per month. These employees can work on the basis of hours or as needed on a variety of clerical and administrative tasks.
6. Consider outsourcing
Outsourcing works for certain areas of your company where it makes more sense than having an in-house team. You don’t need to have a dedicated sales team or customer support representatives right in your office. In fact, there are so many reliable outsourcing opportunities available that it might be possible to run your business on autopilot.
If you’re selling something, hire a telephone reception company to fetch those phone calls. Train your virtual assistant how to answer the queries of potential and existing customers. Get freelancers to do the copywriting and use platforms like 99 Designs, Upwork, and Fiverr for the graphics. The results are often better than you might anticipate.
You absolutely must consider hiring people experienced in your industry for the best results. Even though these actions will increase your monetary output, it will also help your business to expand. Outsourcing is a strength that is still underutilized due to stigmas and misinformation floating around the web.
7. Overcome the “that’s not a real business” stigma
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, many people will doubt and question your motives. Sometimes, they will do it for valid reasons and sometimes out of ignorance. As an owner of a virtual business, you’ll no doubt hear people say that you aren’t a real business owner and will not be around for the long term.
This reminds us of one of our favorite poems by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. Keep on doing your thing! Be honest with clients and potential customers, share your visions with people and don’t let the “hate train” get to you.
Ask the satisfied customers to provide testimonials and educate new customers on how your business can help them succeed. A virtual business is a real as it gets, and you must treat it as such if long term success is what you are after.
8. Promote yourself as a brand
To establish yourself as an entrepreneur, you must learn how to promote yourself as a brand rather than an individual. As a person, you are made of frailties and errors; as a brand you are unstoppable! To build a brand for your virtual business, don’t be afraid to go on YouTube once in awhile and produce content to engage the audience.
Branding is a game, like many, which is best learned from experience. Buy a decent webcam and a microphone and produce short and sweet videos that provide value to you your target market. Heck, use your smartphone. Just don’t forget to end the videos with a call to action, directing the viewers to visit your website or blog.
Social media is the best platform to build up a brand following, and you can learn how to engage your audience from many sources on the Internet. Gary V, for instance, provides excellent advice on how to provide value and get sales naturally.
9. Ask your audience
Before you go ahead and start offering your product or service, get up close and personal with your audience and ask what they need. People are willing to pay a good amount of money for things that will help make their life easier. Collecting accurate information from people will enable you to design a product or service that makes them reach for their wallet.
Also, never fail to take the feedback of your audience seriously as that is one of the ways your business will improve. While the customer may not always be right, remember to deal with criticism politely. As much as your business needs good reviews, it also needs honest critique for a chance to improve and reach its true potential.
10. Take action!
Yes, consider this point as more of an essential reminder that you need to be taking consistent action to get anywhere. Far too many people follow tips, guides, and motivational posts on how to start a business but end up doing nothing. Remember that you are only as good as your actions; not words.
Sure, you’re going to have a lot of self-doubt and second thoughts, but that’s something every entrepreneur has to deal with. If you wait for the so-called “right time” to get started, then the chances are that you’ll be waiting forever.
The key is to “start before you’re ready,” a message that many successful entrepreneurs preach far and wide.
So, instead of waiting for your favorite motivational speaker on YouTube to release a new video, go ahead and register the domain for your virtual business. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more confident knowing that you did something instead of listening to other people talk about doing things.
Start your journey right now!
If you’ve made it to this part of our guide, then give yourself a pat on the back for honoring your desire of becoming an entrepreneur. Take action now because the world will not wait for you to find your perfect time. The most important thing is that you start without the fear of failure.
As Robert Kiyosaki says, “Winners are not afraid of losing, but losers are. Failure is a part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”