Step Four: Make Sure You Have the Twist of Originality
The secret to success with an online business is to make sure you have the twist of originality. You can do this by . . .
- Making your business highly unique
It you want to create a highly lucrative business, the ideal is to do both!
For example: You are a talented stoneware potter and want to sell your pottery Online. The ten thousand potters selling stoneware pottery create a significant level of competition. If you were to join their ranks as just another generic potter selling the same generic stoneware pottery, it is highly probably that you will sink to the bottom of the pool without even a bubble being noticed on the surface.
So – try a different approach. If you were do your research and find out that people are passionate about frog ornaments, you could open an e-store that specializes in frogs and populate an online catalog with your own stoneware frog mugs, plates and bowls, stoneware lily pad plates, stoneware frog paperweights; and accept frog crafts from other vendors (e.g. stained glass frog panels, hand-made frog tea cozies and trivet pads). You may even be able to corner the frog collector market . . . and still sell ALL your stoneware pottery through an online catalogue.
That is the way to create a profitable business with an original twist using your unique set of skills and assets.
So – do the research!
MARKET RESEARCH – PRODUCT-BASED BUSINESS
- Come up with an idea that really gets your creative juices flowing (or even four or five ideas).
- Do the research – not the quick sort that Michelle M. did before opening the first (unsuccessful) version of her miniature doll store, but the more focused, careful research into every aspect of the niche that she used in her second attempt.
- Then run your initial basic internet research to check it’s originality and to see if there is a demand for what you want to do.
- If there is a demand, take the research further to see if that niche topic actually generates revenue for owners of related businesses.
If you want to offer a physical product such as the stoneware frogs and you plan to have an online catalog and e-store, there are plenty of ways to find out if your product-type will sell online.
#1 – Check the big players – eBay and Amazon.com.
A quick glance shows us there are hundreds of frogs for sale – that’s your market.
E-Bay is particularly handy for quick product research: Not only can you see if there is a demand, you can also check the displayed fields to see:
- Typical prices objects are commanding
- The category and sub-categories these products are filed under
- Whether or not there are any sales and high interest (any bids)
There is obviously a market, so the next step is to run a quick search for “stoneware frog” in Google.
As you can see there are a daunting number of results (over one million). Normally this would be far too great a number of possible competitors – but notice also that the two top-ranking sites are eBay and Etsy. Etsy is an online version of “the world’s handmade marketplace.”
This means any items with photos that you feature on those sites stand a much greater chance of rising to the top of organic search results – particularly if you have strong keywords, well-written descriptions, and carefully adhere to the photo specs for those sites.
Another factor to consider with your online stoneware frog business idea is your production capabilities. How many stoneware frog products can you turn out in one week? You have to factor in the size of your kiln, firing time, and glazing re-fire time. Obviously, the number is limited; so, you may want to simply open a small local store, right?
BUT . . . you’ll never get rich that way! Right? Plus when you factor in the cost of a physical site, local advertising, travel time if you’re displaying products at fairs, the cost of booths at fairs, etc. – all of that will eat away at your profits even more.
Even if you do decide to have an actual storefront… or simply visit fairs a few times a year with a batch of wares… consider also having an online business catalog. The only additional cost you will have to factor in is shipping, which you can charge back to your customers.
Many physical stores advertise select wares on eBay and Etsy to build their client list (another vital part of online business). Others prefer to run a strictly home-based business without a storefront, selling directly online.
Even if you have your own dedicated online eStore and catalog with a shopping cart, displaying some pieces on eBay that show your originality is a good strategy for increasing your sales and rising in Google’s ranks.
MARKET RESEARCH – SERVICE BUSINESS
Many of the same principles apply plus you can also boost your visibility by creating an eBook or eBook series and selling it on Amazon.com (especially Kindle Reader versions) to boost your searchability and credibility.
For a service business it is even more important to find a niche that is competitive but not so competitive that your website and business services is lost in the vast number of choices on the Internet. In order to do that, you must specialize. Originality is key, but it must also fill a need.
For example, you want to be a Virtual Assistant: When you search “virtual assistant” online, I guarantee that it will yield almost 60 million results! This is far too much competition – which is why you must narrow the field.
For example, if you specialize by setting up and maintaining shopping carts, the search results will be different. Search Google using keywords your ideal client is most likely to use and there will be a dramatic drop in the number of results as seen in the example below with only 184,000, bringing it within range of the “ideal” maximum number of search results (150,000).
A little savvy promotion will do the rest in narrowing this market slice down even further, which we will cover in Module 4: “Marketing Strategies to Attract your Targeted Clients and Customers”.
Once you have your service business idea narrowed down to a viable niche that has manageable competition, it is time to identify the factors make your business different – your twist of originality – your competitive advantage. You must research what your potential clients need or want – and are not getting. What are they looking for that they cannot find?
You can research this in a number of ways . . . see you next time for STEP FIVE – Researching your Market.
Want all of the information? Begin at the beginning: Building an Online Business.
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