Article: Terry Dean

The Small Business Library

February 18, 2000

Three Step Method for Picking the Perfect Online Business

If you are always desperately seeking for an "edge" to make your business successful online, then you are probably in the wrong business.
There are two experiences which have prompted the writing of this article. The first is that I have been consulting with both unsuccessful and also very successful Internet entrepreneurs lately. I have also been studying some of the most successful multi-million dollar Internet businesses which were started on a shoestring.

The companies I have been reviewing were not the ones which received millions of dollars in venture capital to startup. It would be hard to judge what works online by looking at them as they usually just try throwing money at their problems instead of coming up with solutions to their problems.

The companies I wanted to study were those that started with $5,000 or less in capital... some with less than a $100... but that earned a million or more within one to three years.
What I was looking for in my research was the key to selecting the "perfect" online business. What I found was the same thing that I suspected all along. Everyone of the Internet millionaires picked something they LOVED doing... and then worked around the clock to create and promote it.

Not a single one of the companies I looked at was purchased or given to the owner as a "pre-packaged turn-key" business. They were ideas and interests that the owner loved and created for themselves.
Most of the businesses used the same tools and techniques to promote themselves... such as opt-in list building, effective web design, press releases, affiliate programs, banner advertising, etc.

They didn't just have all of their Internet marketing ducks in alignment though, they also had something else. They had PASSION for their subject and an idea for their site.
The right Internet idea can make your business successful. The right Internet marketing techniques can make your business successful.

The right idea combined with the right techniques could make you a millionaire.
Below I am going to give you an easy three step system for coming up with your potential million dollar idea. What may be the perfect online business for someone else may be a never-ending nightmare for you.

So, the first step in a successful business is to choose the right one.

  1. Make a List of Your Hobbies and Interests.
    Start off your Internet quest by making a list of your hobbies and interests. If you love sports, then write that down. If it's hard to pry you away from the garden, list it. If you fish every non-working moment, then you have a project to put down on paper.

    List everything you enjoy doing at this point in the game. You will work on and eliminate some of the ideas during the next two steps. Right now, you just want a list of possibilities no matter how unlikely they may seem.

    As I already explained above, the businesses which made their owners millionaires where things they were passionate about. Some did sites on video games. Others worked on fishing. If it is a hobby or an interest to you, then you can pretty well expect that there is going to be a large number of similar minded people out there.

  2. Visit some of the Major Sites in Each Area of Interest as a customer.
    This is important.  Visit the major sites as a customer, not as a competitor. Pick up some magazines in your area of interest and look through them for web sites that you can visit. Do a search using Yahoo to find some of the best sites (if they are in Yahoo at least they get some traffic).

    Sign up for any opt-in lists they have. Read through their online content. Buy something from them. Do you experience any problems as a customer? Is there something on their site which is missing?

    Take out a notebook and make notes on your experiences. What do you wish they had available to you as a customer? Throw out any ideas on whether you can create it or not. In most cases, if you can conceive it online, there is a way to accomplish it.

    Make a wish list of what these major sites are missing for their customers. Part of your plan will be to provide some of the same basic materials, but to also fill in the gaps which they may have left out.

  3. Narrow Your Business Idea Until You Can Be number one, two, or three in market.
    To make the same statement in another way...
    Don't compete with Yahoo.
    You'll lose. Disney has found this out with their GoNetwork. They have lost close to a billion dollars trying to compete with Yahoo as the online portal site for the masses, only to come up short.

    If you are trying to create portal site, don't create it for the average Internet surfer. You will find yourself coming into competition with major corporations who have billions of dollars to spend in beating you out.

    If you are going to create a portal site, create it for a specific market. Make it a vertical portal site. Create a portal site for fishermen, business women, teenagers, etc.
    Then, look for your competition. If your competition in one market is so strong that it is difficult to be the number one, two, or three web site, then focus even more specifically.

    For example, if there are already 5 web site portals which focus on business women, become even more specific in your market. Focus on working mothers, African American business women, or single business women. Keep narrowing your market until you know you have a good opportunity of being one of the major sites in that market.

    If you wanted to do a site about fishing and notice there were already 20 major fishing sites out there, then narrow your focus. Instead of focusing on all fishing, focus on specific types of fishing, fishing vacations, deep sea fishing, high end fishing, etc. You could also focus on fishing in a specific area (then you would receive a lot of free publicity in your area newspapers).

    If your primary market is everyone, you will find that everyone is very difficult to target and sell to. If you can target your market very specifically, you will find it is much easier to reach your customers.

Once you have your market narrowed down, then you are ready to start building. That is a subject of another issue though.

Or you can go right now to the Instant Internet Cashflow System to learn the Internet marketing aspects of your new business:

Written by Terry Dean
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