Imagine waking up on a rainy November morning, dreading the long commute ahead to a job that drains your energy and stifles your creativity.
Now, imagine a different reality: You’ve taken the steps to start an online business, you’re the boss of your own lucrative business, working from anywhere with the freedom to design your life on your own terms.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely seeking a way out of the 9-to-5 grind and into a more fulfilling, flexible career. But with so much noise and hype online, it can be hard to know where to start.
That’s where hopefully I can come in and give you a bit help. As someone who has successfully started and run two product based online businesses, an ecommerce store and a consulting online business for over a decade, I’m here to guide you through the proven steps to turn your online business idea or dream into a reality…
All with the simple power of an internet connection. That’s it really!
What You'll Learn...
- 1 From Employee to Entrepreneur: A Step-by-Step Guide
- 2 #1. Identifying A Profitable Niche
- 3 #2. Create a business plan
- 4 Building an online presence
- 5 #3. Marketing the Business
- 6 #4. Generating Revenue
- 7 #5. Balancing work and personal life
- 8 #6. How to quit your job and work for yourself
- 9 My Final Thoughts on the steps to start an online business
- 9.1 A final note for you:
- 9.2 What are the benefits of quitting my day job to start my own business?
- 9.3 How can I make sure my business is profitable?
- 9.4 Do I need a lot of money to start my own business?
- 9.5 How can I find customers for my business?
- 9.6 How do I handle the uncertainty and challenges of entrepreneurship?
- 9.7 What are some legal requirements I need to be aware of when starting a business?
- 9.8 Is it possible to start a business while still working a day job?
From Employee to Entrepreneur: A Step-by-Step Guide
You may be thinking, ‘sure, it’s easy for this person to talk about starting an online business or building an online store – they’re probably some tech guru or business mogul.
But the truth is, I’m just a normal guy, most likely like you in many respects, and there are countless others like me and you who have successfully made the leap into the world of online business from being an employee.
I’m not saying I’m the bees knees and spiders ankles, I just happened upon a good online business idea many years ago and that knowledge has enabled me to be free to live life as I choose.
And if I can do it, there’s a high likelihood that you can unleash your full potential too.
This picture here is me, 12 years ago in Calcutta, age 31. It was my first location to land before being a digital nomad was really a thing.
I took charge of my future, said enough was enough, and bought a one-way ticket out of London.
It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life and it all began by me understanding the simple steps to start an online business which I will lay out for you here.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a long-term employee, or anyone looking for a new career path, this is for you – it’s not just for kids fresh out of university looking for the latest TikTok trend.
I understand that making such a big change can be daunting and the thought of your own online business might seem a bit farfetched, which is why in this guide, I’ll steer you through the time-saving steps to start today and quit your job very soon.
I’ll help you develop the right understanding of what you need to do to break free of your day job, choose a business model that is easy to start and grow, and achieve the life you deserve.
That’s not all…
I’ll walk you through the entire process, from:
- Choosing the right online business idea, to…
- Building your website,
- Marketing your products or services, and,
- Managing your finances (although you should seek professional advice in this area).
I’ll also share tips and advice on how to balance building your business with your personal life (which is key to happiness), so you can have the freedom to work on your own terms.
(NOTE: If this is your first time thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, take your time going through this, and you might want to download the checklist to help you along the way)
By the end of this guide, you’ll have the confidence and clarity to start your own online business, perhaps sell online, open a dropshipping business, an e-commerce business or maybe an affiliate marketing business and take control of your future, so, let’s get started.
Here’s where you start…
#1. Identifying A Profitable Niche
Starting a successful online business all begins with finding a profitable niche. Before diving into the process of building a first online business idea, it’s crucial to take onboard your interests, conduct market research on potential online business ideas and assess the competition and demand for the chosen niche.
Here’s how to get started:
Researching potential business ideas:
The first step in identifying a profitable niche is researching and market research and potential business ideas. Consider your interests, skills, and experience to find a niche that you’re passionate about and have knowledge in.
I always recommend the 3 things exercise to my students when starting out, it’s one of the first steps to start an online business.
You won’t believe how many people start a business in a niche they hate, thinking that it’s a route to easy money, only to realize that choosing the wrong niche, solely based on ‘income speculation’ can lead to zero profits.
If income speculation is the road to failure, and it is,
This is the key to success…
Look for gaps in the market where there is demand but not enough supply.
Use Google, Facebook and online forums to gather information and insights.
You could also shortcut that and use a tool like Exploding Topics to help you research new ‘exploding’ ideas for this.
Let me ask you this…
Would you rather do something you love, or focus on something that would make your life a living hell?
I think we both know the answer to that.
Assessing the competition and demand for the chosen niche:
Once you have a list of potential business ideas, it’s time to assess the competition and demand for the chosen business niche.
Research the keywords related to the niche and analyze the search volume and competition level. You can do this by looking into a free tool called Google Keywords Planner.
As you can see from the image here, the competition (and search volume) for the search “Italian leather boots for men” is high and for “Italian leather chukka boot” is low. You want to look for High Average monthly searches, and low competition.
Identifying the target audience:
After identifying a profitable niche, it’s important to define your target. This includes demographic information such as age, gender, location, income, and interests.
Knowing who you are targeting with your business idea will help you tailor your marketing messages and products to meet their specific needs and preferences.
(This is an area of marketing I overlooked at the start to my detriment, and focusing on getting this created will drive so many more sales when you start to create content)
By taking the time to research potential online business ideas beforehand, assessing the competition and demand, and identifying the target audience, you’ll have a solid foundation for building a profitable online business.
#2. Create a business plan
Once you have identified a profitable niche, it’s time to create a solid, business strategy and plan. Now some people will say that you do not need one, but if you really want to make this a success, you 100% do.
A business plan is a blueprint for your online business and includes key details about your business, such as your goals, target audience, and marketing strategies.
Setting clear goals and objectives
Before starting your online business, it’s essential to set clear goals and objectives. These goals will guide you in creating a plan for achieving success. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
For example, if your goal is to earn $100,000 in revenue in the first year of your online business, break it down into smaller, achievable goals.
Determine how much you need to sell online each month to meet your yearly revenue goal. This will help you determine your sales targets and guide your marketing efforts.
Outlining the marketing and sales strategies
Marketing and sales strategies are critical components of your business plan. Marketing is the process of promoting your products or services to your target audience, while sales are the process of converting leads into paying customers.
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand your target audience and their needs, which you would have started above by finding out who your target audience is.
But let’s not stop there…
Develop a buyer persona that outlines your ideal customer’s demographics, interests, pain points, and buying behavior. This will help you tailor your marketing messages to resonate with your target audience.
Your sales strategy should outline how you plan to convert leads into paying customers. This includes identifying the sales channels you will use, such as social media marketing, email marketing, or paid advertising.
You should also develop a sales funnel that outlines the steps you will take to convert leads into paying customers.
Determining the necessary resources and budget
Creating a successful ecommerce site or online business requires a range of resources, including time, money, and skills. Determine the resources you need to start and run your own ecommerce business, such as website design, hosting, product development, and marketing.
I’ll drop a list of resources in the checklist at the bottom of this article to get you started
Calculate the expenses related to each resource to evaluate your budget. This will enable you to recognize any possible funding deficiencies and devise a strategy to obtain financing if necessary. Don’t forget to consider your personal time and labor expenses while determining your budget, in addition to any legal or regulatory charges.
Crafting a comprehensive business plan is crucial to establish a strong basis for your online venture and maximize your likelihood of triumph.
Building an online presence
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for the success of any business. This section will cover the steps involved in building an effective online presence for your new business.
Creating a professional website:
Your website is your business’s digital storefront and is the MOST POWERFUL marketing tool you have.
You might consider hiring a professional web designer to get started, but with the rise of one-click website builders like WordPress or drag and drop builders like Squarespace you can create a user-friendly, visually appealing website that represents your brand.
Another one the steps to start an online business is to ensure that you own your brand or business name across the related Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Not only can it help you reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers, but it ensures that as you grow, no one can profit from your brand name by taking your name on unregistered social media accounts.
You can use websites such as Knowem to check if your brand name is available on various social media platforms. The process is simple: enter your desired brand name, and the website will show you how many social media sites have that name available.
Once you have identified the available platforms, you can register your brand name on them to ensure that no one else can use it. In the example above, we searched for the brand name ‘ciaranrdoyle’ to check its availability on various social media sites.
Building an email list:
Email marketing is a highly effective way to nurture leads and convert them into customers. Offer incentives like free resources in exchange for email addresses and use email marketing tools like Getresponse to create and send engaging email campaigns.
Here you can see I offer a free incentive to build my email list. To collect those emails I get in exchange for the free incentive I use a tool called Getresponse.
#3. Marketing the Business
After setting up your business website well, it’s essential to shift your focus towards marketing your business. Without a well-planned marketing strategy, your product or service might struggle to gain attention. In this section, we’ll explore some effective marketing tactics that can help you reach your target audience and boost your business growth.
Developing content marketing strategies:
Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating informative, valuable, and consistent content to attract and retain a specific audience. You can start with creating a blog or podcast, and also consider producing informative videos or sharing engaging social media posts.
By consistently creating valuable content, you can build your brand’s reputation and establish yourself as an expert in your niche, which can help you attract and retain customers, and this here is one of the key steps to start an online business, and grow it profitably.
Utilizing Social Media
Social media platforms provide an effective means of reaching your target audience. By creating social media accounts and regularly posting engaging content related to your business, you can connect with potential customers, promote your products or services, and share your blog content to build your brand’s reputation.
Content is all about consistency online, so ensure when you start out that you choose a content format that you are most familiar with. As you can see from the image above, these are social media posts, each to strengthen my brand.
Starting A Blog
Creating a blog for your business can be an effective content marketing strategy. By regularly sharing industry news, tips, and advice, as well as answering common questions from your audience, you can build a loyal following and establish your business as a thought leader in your industry.
Consistently publishing high-quality content on your blog can also help with search engine optimization and drive traffic to your website.
Using Email Marketing
Email marketing is another one of the steps to start an online business and a powerful tool that can help you stay in touch with your audience and promote your business. You can use email to share special offers, promote new products, and keep your audience up-to-date on industry news.
What will your content type be?
How To Do SEO to Improve Website Visibility
You might also want to consider SEO. This involves optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages, on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
To do this, you need to research keywords related to your niche and use them strategically in your website copy, blog posts, and social media content.
As you can see, I have found a keyword here: how to do seo, it has 4,400 searches per month, and also notice, I have used the exact same keyword in the title for this section.
By following these steps, you can establish a strong online presence and attract potential customers to your business.
Overall, marketing your online business is an ongoing process that requires patience and persistence. By consistently creating high-quality content, engaging with your audience on social media, and implementing effective SEO techniques, you can attract more targeted traffic to your website and grow your business over time.
But there’s more to the story…
#4. Generating Revenue
Starting an online business is not just about having an an online store and presence, but also about making money, without it, you don’t get to quit the 9-5.
In this section, one of the key steps to start an online business we’ll discuss various revenue streams that can help you generate income through your online business, and ones that I currently have, do and use.
Diversifying income streams:
One of the key factors in generating revenue is diversifying your income streams. By having multiple streams of income, you can reduce your dependence on one particular source of revenue.
For example, if you’re selling products online, you can also consider offering consulting services or selling digital courses. Below you can see how I do it, starting from 1, and then going all the way up to 6.
- promote an affiliate product/products,
- promote recurring affiliate products,
- create a small training and sell it,
- create a bigger training and sell it,
- create a group coaching,
- then, you can do 1-2-1 coaching.
It gets even better…
Setting up affiliate partnerships:
As a begnner, probably the best and easiest way to generate revenue is by setting up affiliate partnerships.
What if I told you…
You don’t even need your own product to sell, you can simply sell other company’s products.
This involves partnering with other online businesses or websites that sell products related to your niche. You can then promote their products on your own website, and earn a commission for every sale made through your referral link. This is my main source of income.
Creating digital products or services:
Creating products or services can be an effective way to generate revenue. Digital products can include eBooks, online courses, software, digital downloads, or apps.
For example, if you’re a fitness coach, you can create an eBook on healthy eating or a fitness course for beginners.
Alternatively, you can offer digital services or online courses such as graphic design, copywriting, or web development.
As for me, I teach people how to start online businesses, and all of the elements related to that, online course, including:
- Opportunity finding,
- Affiliate marketing and,
- Website traffic generation.
Just a note here. I wouldn’t even try to teach people about web development, because that isn’t in my skill, comfort and happiness zone. I choose to create products that are naturally me, that I enjoy and do for myself, not things I don’t.
Selling digital products or services has many advantages, including low overhead costs and the ability to scale your small business online. With digital products like an online course, you can create something once and sell online repeatedly, while digital services allow you to work with clients from all over the world.
Other revenue streams:
There are several other revenue streams a small business can consider, depending on your niche and business model. These can include advertising revenue, sponsored content, paid memberships or subscriptions, and more.
Ultimately, the key to generating revenue is to offer something of value to your customers. By focusing on their needs and preferences, you can create a business that generates sustainable income over time.
If you do this, you are game on for income that outstrips what you are currently making,
But there’s a catch…
#5. Balancing work and personal life
There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
And, this could be the most important part of this whole guide about becoming a small business entrepreneur, your work life balance.
One of the most critical steps to start an online business is this, being able to balance out what you work and what you live…
Well, starting an online business can be a significant change in your life, and it is essential to create a plan to balance your work and personal life.
As a business owner, it is easy to become consumed with work, but it is important to ensure that you are taking care of yourself and spending time with your loved ones. Here are some tips for managing your time effectively and maintaining a healthy work-life balance:
Create a schedule:
One of the most important things you can do to manage your time effectively is to create a schedule. By setting aside specific times for work, family, and personal activities, you can ensure that you are devoting enough time to each area of your life.
Prioritize your tasks:
Make a list of your daily tasks and prioritize them based on their importance. This will help you focus on the most critical tasks and ensure that you are not wasting time on less essential ones.
If you have employees or family members who can help you with tasks, consider delegating some of them. This will free up more time for you to focus on the most critical aspects of your business and personal life.
There are great marketplaces like Upwork (where I hire so most of my contract employees), and Fiverr where you can find people who can look after your work for you.
It’s essential to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Whether it’s taking a walk, reading a book, or practicing meditation, find activities that help you relax and de-stress.
A great technique I use is called the Pomodoro technique.
It uses a timer like shown, or a website or app to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
This technique helps you work in block times and seriously, the amount of work you get done when you do this is hardcore.
If you decide to work from home, it can be challenging to set boundaries between your work and personal life. Make sure that you have a designated workspace and that your family members understand that you need time to focus on your business.
Or, if you plan on traveling while you work, make sure that you find a location you can stay for an extended period and crank out a good amount of work before you take a break and move on to your next destination. This is what I do.
My current location is Siem Reap Cambodia, and this is a picture after a 6-hour motorbike ride (hence the dust) to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen, Sopheakmitt Waterfall in Stung Trend Province.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for your well-being and the success of your online business owners too. By following these tips, you can ensure that you are managing your time effectively and enjoying the benefits of owning an online business.
#6. How to quit your job and work for yourself
If you’re thinking about quitting your job to start working for yourself, there are some steps you can take to make the transition smoother. Here are some suggestions:
- Start with a solid plan: Before you quit your job, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to do and how you’ll make money. Develop a business plan that outlines your goals, target market, and financial projections.
- Build your network: Networking is key to building a successful business. Start by reaching out to people in your industry and attending events where you can meet potential clients or collaborators.
- Save up: Starting a business can be costly, and it may take time before you start making money. Make sure you have enough savings to cover your living expenses for at least six months.
- Get legal advice: Depending on the type of business you want to start, you may need to register your business or obtain licenses and permits. Consult a lawyer or accountant to make sure you’re following all the necessary legal requirements.
- Be prepared for the challenges: Working for yourself can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Be prepared to work long hours, deal with uncertainty, and handle all aspects of your business.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success as you transition from working for someone else to working for yourself.
My Final Thoughts on the steps to start an online business
Well, you’ve made it to the end of all the steps to Start an Online Business and Quitting Your Job, so a big hats off to you.
The truth is…
Now that you understand the benefits of starting an online business, how to identify a profitable niche, create a business plan, market your business online, generate revenue, get other online business ideas and balance work and personal life, you have the tools you need to take action.
All it takes is you…
Starting an online business can be a challenging but rewarding journey, it is very worth it, being your own boss, not suffering through the commute, or negative workplace mentality.
A final note for you:
That’s right! Starting an online business is about making money online and creating a lifestyle that suits you. It’s about being free to work from anywhere and being your own boss.
So, stay motivated, work hard, and don’t be afraid to take risks. With determination and persistence, you can turn your dreams into a reality. Good luck on your entrepreneurial journey!
So what are you waiting for?
The time is now to take action and start building the business (and life) of your dreams. Your journey to financial independence and a flexible lifestyle begins today.
Thanks for reading,
What are the benefits of quitting my day job to start my own business?
Quitting your day job to start your own business can give you more control over your career, the ability to pursue your passions and vision, and potentially higher earnings than you might make as an employee.
How can I make sure my business is profitable?
There are several steps you can take to increase your chances of building a profitable business, such as developing a solid business plan, identifying and targeting your ideal customer, setting realistic financial goals, and constantly seeking ways to improve your products or services.
Do I need a lot of money to start my own business?
It depends on the type of business you want to start. Some businesses require significant startup capital, while others can be started with little or no money. It’s important to create a budget and determine how much money you’ll need to get your small business back up and running.
How can I find customers for my business?
Building a customer base is key to the success of any business, be that an online store or affiliate marketing venture. You can find customers through targeted advertising, word of mouth referrals, attending networking events, and building a strong online presence through social media and content marketing.
How do I handle the uncertainty and challenges of entrepreneurship?
Starting a business can be challenging, but staying focused on your goals, seeking out support from other entrepreneurs or mentors, and constantly learning and adapting can help you navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
What are some legal requirements I need to be aware of when starting a business?
Depending on the type of business model you want to start, you may need to register your business with your state or local government, obtain licenses or permits, a business license, and comply with tax laws. Consulting with a lawyer or accountant can help ensure that you’re following all necessary legal requirements.
Is it possible to start a business while still working a day job?
Yes, many entrepreneurs start their businesses while still working a day job (I did). This can help you maintain a steady income while first find online business ideas and then build your business on the side. Just be prepared to manage your time effectively and be patient as your business grows.