Lately I’ve been talking a lot about web design and working with a web designer, but now I want to shift the focus to the variety of Internet business ideas. Regardless what your skill set is or whether you even know what skills you could leverage to build your business, I promise there are Internet business ideas you can leverage!
This post is packed with case studies on service-oriented business models and Internet business ideas, to give you an overview on what’s possible in the world of online business.
At the end of this post I’m giving you a tip that’ll give you a competitive advantage in building your Internet business TODAY, so be sure to read through the end.
But before I start explaining the following Internet business ideas I want to clarify a few things. Please don’t see the following statements as demotivation, but use them as fuel for your (upcoming) business. I truly believe that anyone can build a successful business online, but you need
1. Define what success means to you.
What does success look like for you? Is it having millions of dollars on your bank account? Or is it being able to spend time with your family and friends? You can only achieve the goals that you’ve defined. Makes sense?
2. There is no shortcut to success.
However you’ve defined success, don’t expect to achieve it over night. Though this can happen with the Internet business ideas I’m going to outline, it is very rare. Rather expect to work hard over a reasonable amount of time before seeing any results.
3. Dedication and passion are crucial.
As I said, there is no such thing as over-night success. That’s why I want you to only start an Internet business when you’re really passionate and dedicated about achieving your goals. You don’t need to be passionate about the business itself, but you’ll go through tough times, so you better are passionate about the goal you’re working for.
Ok, now let’s get to the meat of this post and finally talk about service-oriented Internet business ideas.
The first field of Internet business ideas are related to starting and running service oriented businesses online. These businesses provide services of any kind to their customers and leverage the opportunity of scaling their business online.
I’m currently working on a service business for WordPress users. The business will provide services to entrepreneurs and business relying on WordPress for their daily business.
Service oriented Internet business are very different from product based Internet business, because they usually require that you put in work to make money. You’re basically trading hours for dollars, just like you would in a 9-to–5.
But there are service based Internet business ideas that you can scale and even remove yourself out of the daily business completely. You can leverage a team of experts who do the work for you. They most often are higher skilled and have more experience in their field than you, because they work in their field day-in and day-out.
That’s exactly the approach I’m going for with SimplyWP. To scale the business and still deliver high-quality service (which is crucial to succeed!) I’ve built a team of the best WP developers and designers I’ve yet come to work with. This actually allows me to focus on building and growing the business, instead of working for the business. My clients get support from experts who are more skilled and experienced than me (hard to admit, but it's true) and I can work on the business.
There's nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team. Jason Fried, 37signals founder (tweet this)
You can build teams with VAs pretty easily nowadays. My friend and business partner Patrick runs a service that connects you with virtual assistants and Chris Ducker has written an excellent book on hiring the perfect virtual assistant. Even if you think you don't need a VA currently, they can be a game changer.
So, service-oriented Internet businesses are known to be hard to scale - which is true. At one point, someone is trading hours for dollars. But that doesn't need to be you. In fact, executing on Internet business ideas that provide services by leveraging a team of virtual assistants can be one of the most profitable ways to do business online.
Let me share how I discovered the opportunity for this service-based business. This segment of the post is about validating business potentials for any kind of Internet business ideas, not just service-based businesses. You can use the principles shared in any market and for any kind of business.
Since I’m working with clients world-wide in web design projects, I got in touch with quite a number of entrepreneurs and companies who use WordPress. I saw them struggle with the same issues over and over again. Installing updates, doing backups, tweaking their themes, or configuring plugins simply don’t belong to their fields of expertise - which of course is totally fine.
To find this first validation, I simply leveraged the network I already had. I talked to a lot of people who engaged either in similar fields or used similar tools and asked them about the problems they’re facing on a regular basis. At this point, I wasn’t selling anything. I was genuinely interested in learning more about their recurring problems and how life could be made easier for them.
If you want to validate your Internet business idea, get in conversations! There’s a reason why you’re hearing advice like „be active on social media“, „engage in forums in your niche“, or „build relationships with potential customers“ all the time. They’re valid and crucially important for your business success. There is no way that being in conversations won’t bring you at least a few different Internet business ideas. The main reason why lots of people fail to do this is simple. It’s non-scalable work.
I saw a need for a WordPress maintenance and customization service, because there was no-one solving the problems of those entrepreneurs and companies. What those people need is someone who maintains their WordPress website and simply free’s them from hustling with technical stuff, so that they can focus on running and growing their business.
To all WordPress users: what are your biggest struggles in the daily use? Please leave a comment below and let me try to help, so that you can focus on your business again!
You see that sometimes you can find Internet business ideas right in front of you. If several persons ask you similar questions, or you see people making the same mistakes over and over again, you’ve uncovered a potential business idea.
If you are at the point that you have a few Internet business ideas, you need to find out if there’s a real market for your business or not. Luckily you can verify the potential of Internet business ideas quite easily. Search for companies offering similar services (and doing well), go through discussions on social media and forums, and talk to the people who could become potential customers of your business. There are other posts about validating Internet business ideas, so I’m not going to elaborate on this further here.
Talking about SimplyWP, I quickly found WPcurve (yes, I'm linking to them. The world this big enough for the two of us) who offer similar services. I searched for people who actually used their services on social media and in forums, and started a conversation with them. These conversations showed me that some people would consider switching to another service provider that solves particular things (like managing support tickets easily) better than WPcurve. So I knew exactly what people were looking for! And doing research on WPcurve proved the business potential, as they’ve grown pretty big in a short amount of time.
Another example for a service oriented Internet business is Tiger Tiger. I’m not affiliated with them, I just think they’re a good example.
They sell SEO services and I think they’ve chosen one of the most competitive Internet business ideas you could go for.
Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not. - Michael Dell, Dell chairman and CEO
SEO is a huge field with lots of strong competitors, but still you can start a profitable business by finding your ideal target market.
Dealing with competition is a very important aspect to all Internet business ideas - and I personally see competition as a positive signal. If you can’t find any Internet business doing what you want to you, chances are that there’s no money to be made and that you should refine your Internet business idea.
So, back to Tiger Tiger. They’re based in New Zealand, which makes them very attractive to local companies. I assume there aren’t too many professional SEO agencies in New Zealand, but there are quite a number of businesses who market online and rely on their website to generate leads and income.
They do a pretty good job on creating a trustworthy brand and showcase their knowledge on their blog.
I do the same for my WordPress maintenance service. My branding is very simple and down to earth, focused on entrepreneurs and business owners in my target market. Since all Internet business ideas require that you gain the trust of your potential customers, I’m showcasing my knowledge on my blog and on JK TV. And over the next weeks I’ll even reveal the complete founding process of SimplyWP and show you what’s going on in the backend.
So far we've talked about how to validate the business potential for your Internet business ideas and we've had a closer look at two service-oriented Internet businesses. Now it's time to take action on those ideas and start the business!
You might think that this requires upfront investments in time and money, but those are fairly low. You can start a service-oriented Internet business for less than $100, so I don't see any reason why you couldn't do it.
This tip will give your brand-new Internet business a headstart.
Go ahead and register your domain TODAY. I recommend Bluehost in the beginning, because they are cheap, reliable, and easy to use. You can always move your site to more advanced hosts as you grow.
Install WordPress on that domain and set up a simple landing page, just as I did with SimplyWP. You can find some pretty awesome templates for landing pages at Themeforest or use more advanced themes like OptimizePress. Please note that those links are affiliate links, so I make a few bucks if you decide to buy a theme or sign up (thanks in that case!). However, I use those services myself for several months now and can highly recommend them, even if I wasn't affiliated with them.
The goal of that landing page is to collect email addresses of potential customers, thus building a list of leads interested in your services.That list is the foundation for your new Internet business and will bring you customers right away when you launch. My good friend Heidi wrote a great article analyzing 10 different landing page templates to show you the most important aspects.
Connect that landing page to a mailing list provider to manage all addresses. I use Mailchimp for this, because you can get started for free and their service is incredibly easy to use. I've already gotten some requests on a Mailchimp tutorial, so stay tuned for it 😉
On the landing page, briefly describe your services and offer a bonus to those people who opt-in to your list. For example, anyone who subscribes to the early bird list of my WordPress maintenance service gets a free website review with tips on improvements. You can get tips on copywriting for landing pages from this great free eBook at Copyblogger.
You don't need to have a full blog on the website of your new business. In fact, that's one of the biggest mistakes you can make upfront. Rather build your audience by getting in ongoing conversations, submitting guest articles to blogs (yes, guest blogging still works!), and then direct people to your landing page and see if they're interested in your service.
This list also serves as validation for your business idea. If nobody signs up, you might have the wrong people on your site, or a business idea that's simply not profitable.
Your mantra should be to get as many people as possible to the page and then refine the structure of your landing page over and over again! This is how Internet business ideas are validated nowadays and how you can get a headstart in launching your service!