Module 1: Preparation
Before we get started, I want to talk a little about attitude. It is very important that, right from the start, you think about this as a business. This is not something you are doing just to have fun and waste a bit of time. Your aim is to make money. Your mindset will play a huge part in determining how successful or otherwise you are.
Firstly, you need to determine to take full responsibility for your own actions and their consequences. No-one else is responsible for your success or failure.
When you take responsibility for your life, you take control over your life. This system will give you a lot of help on your way to online success, but it will not do it for you. Neither I nor anyone else can make your business successful, only you can.
Secondly, you need to set your mind into «business» mode.
If you were starting an offline business, you would first want to do a «SWOT Analysis.» Divide a sheet of paper into quarters, headed «strengths» «weaknesses» «opportunities» and «threats.»
The strengths will include the abilities you already have as you start out — your computer skills and internet knowledge, any marketing experience you may have. (You actually don’t need great computer skills to work this system. If you can copy and paste, handle basic word processing, and send an email, you can do it. Everything else will be explained step by step along the way.)
It will also include your ability to follow instructions, your positive attitude (which, if you don’t already have, you are going to cultivate) and the fact that this system takes you step by step through all you need to know and do, and that the cost in money and time is relatively small.
The weaknesses might include areas where you are lacking in knowledge, and maybe a lack of finance or time.
Opportunities will include the fact that internet usage is continuing to grow at a remarkable pace around the world, and also the fact that in the present world economic climate many people are looking for a way to earn money other than a job or traditional business.
Threats may include things like family opposition. These are all just suggestions, feel free to enlarge upon them.
The idea is for you to be confident that the Strengths and Opportunities outweigh the Weaknesses and Threats. If, when you look at your SWOT Analysis, you are not absolutely confident that is the case, then quit right now.
Far better for you not to get started, than to start and not feel within yourself that you have a good chance of success. I’m not talking about certainty — the nature of life is that there are very few things about which we can be certain, and success in business (or any other endeavour) is definitely not one of them.
However, you do need to be able to start out saying in your heart, «Yes! I can do this!»
If you don’t already use it, I strongly suggest you go to OpenOffice.org and download the office suite. It is free, and works much like MSOffice (in fact, you can open MSOffice documents in OpenOffice, and save documents made in OpenOffice in MSOffice formats) but has some neat extra features that you will find very handy later.
Set up a new folder on your computer, and label it «MyInternetBusiness» or something similar. Now set up an OpenOffice spreadsheet and label it «Accounts» and file it in your business folder.
In it, have one sheet for Income and one for Expenses, and be sure to record everything you spend on your internet business, and everything you receive from it, at the time when you spend or receive it. Also buy yourself a cheap expanding file, and print out each receipt and file it as you go. (Believe me, you will thank me when tax time comes round!)
Next, start a new text document and label it «Goals.»
Take some time to think about what you want from this business. Be specific. Don’t just say «make lots of money.»
Do you want to be able to give up your day job? Write it down, and the amount that you will need to be receiving from the business before you can do that.
Do you want to buy a house or pay off the mortgage on your existing home? Write it in your goals, along with specific amounts.
Do you want to be able to take regular overseas holidays? Write it down, with amounts.
You get the picture. Whatever things you want to be able to do as a result of building an online business, write it in your goals, and be as specific as possible.
Next, write down the emotional benefit that these things will give you.
Is it freedom? Security? Satisfaction? Write it down, and be as descriptive as possible.
Save your Goals document in your business folder, and read it at least twice (preferably three times) a day. The idea here is to keep you focused.
Have you ever noticed when you are driving down the highway that if you start looking at something out in a paddock off to the side of the road, you are likely to begin steering toward it? Life works the same way. To reach a goal, we need to keep focused on where we are going.
(Incidentally, I heard once of a survey that was done of millionaires and billionaires. The people who did the survey were trying to find out what made the difference, what gave someone that extra edge to take his/her business to the higher level. They found only one difference between the mindset of millionaires and that of billionaires: the millionaires red their goals on the average of twice a day, the billionaires three times!)
Next, start a new text document and label it «Business Plan.»
If you were starting a bricks-and-mortar offline business, you would need to have a business plan before you begin. An online business is no different.
Ask yourself three very important questions (and be realistic about your answers):
1. How much money can you afford to invest into the business each month BEFORE you start getting a return.
This will include the fees for the programs you join, the paid resources you choose to use, and some extra for paid advertising (this system works mostly with free advertising, but sometimes you may want to put in a bit extra.) Remember, this needs to be the amount you can afford to «lose» each month till the business gets going.
By establishing this now, you will be saving yourself the pressure of thinking «I’m spending money and I need to get it back fast!» You will get it back once the business is going, but allowing it to become a pressure factor will set you up to make unwise decisions in the hope of breaking even more quickly.
You will also be setting a limit for yourself so that when you see those tempting «One Time Offers» (and you will see heaps of them!) you will be able to say either, «Yes, I can afford that» or «No, not in my budget right now.»
2. How much time can you spare each day (or at least each week day) to put into your business?
I would suggest that you allow a minimum of two to three hours a day.
You can probably do it in one hour, but it will take much longer to get things rolling. Also, the first couple of weeks when you are setting things up will probably take longer, depending on how much experience with computers and the internet you have. (If necessary, you can spread the set-up time over a longer period than will be suggested in your instructions.)
Having determined how much time you can spare, commit to putting that time into the business each day, no matter what happens. If you have a family, make it clear to them that this is «business time» not «play with the dog time» or «put out the trash time» or «help with the homework time» — do all those things OUTSIDE of «business time.»
Here’s an idea regarding the «time» factor: you will need to check with a tax accountant about the rules where you are, but in some countries you can employ a teenage son or daughter in your business and write his/her wages off as a business expense. At the same time, he/she does not pay tax as long as the amount is under the threshold. So, if you have a teen hanging around, put him/her to work doing some of the routine stuff for your business. You get both a tax break and a time break, and son or daughter gets some extra pocket money — a real win/win.
3. How long are you prepared to work on the business before breaking even?
(Just in case you are a total business «newbie», «break even point» is the point at which your income from the business equals your expenses.)
I would suggest you allow yourself at least six months.
As in question 1, this will take the pressure off you and help you to avoid the unwise decisions that might result. Of course, you will be working to break even long before then — in fact I would hope to see it within the first month — but by allowing yourself a longer time frame you are cutting yourself some slack and allowing yourself to concentrate on promoting the business rather that worrying about the business.
Just as a follow on from that, you need to commit to «sticking with it.»
As you go through this program using the various free advertising tools, you will find yourself presented with all kinds of plans and opportunities.
Some of them will seem very interesting and enticing, but don’t allow yourself to be distracted by them. Later on we will diversify a bit, but it is important to concentrate on getting the core programs running well first.
Think of it this way: imagine you are starting an offline business — let’s say, a butcher shop. You get started, then a week later you look down the road and see that the fruit shop has a lively trade. You give up on the butcher shop, and go and open a fruit shop instead. You last a little while in that, but then you see the baker down the road is pulling in customers, so you sell up and buy a bakery. After a while, you see a cafe doing well, so you sell the bakery and buy a cafe (obviously, you have lots of money :0) ) …
Would anyone ever do that? Of course not! And if anyone was foolish enough to try it, would he make any money? No, to be successful you have to keep doing the thing you set out to do in the first place.
If you were setting up a business plan for an offline business, you would include a section on marketing. This system will cover all that for you, so all you need to do here is commit to «stick to the plan!»
You also need to decide your business structure.
In most cases, this will be «sole trader» — in other words, you are doing the business by yourself. However, if you are married or in a relationship, you might want to operate as a «partnership.» If this is the case, you will need to get legal advice about setting up that structure in the area where you live, and what tax and other advantages there might be in doing so.
You also need to decide whether you want to do business in your own name, or apply for a Business Name. The rules concerning this will be different in each country, so you will need to check with your own authorities. However, as a general rule you can do business in your own name without any need to register, but if you add anything to it you need to register a Business Name. For instance, I can (and do) carry on business as simply Lynn Fowler without registering the name, but if I wanted to do business under the name of, say, Lynn Fowler Enterprises, I would need to register it.
Also check if any business registration (other than a Business Name) is needed in your own country. For example, I live in Australia, and to operate a business here you need to have an ABN (Australian Business Number.) Applying for it (or any registration that might be applicable in your own country) will further cement in your thinking the fact that you are IN BUSINESS!
Your business plan is not a «set in concrete» document, but a guide to where you are going that will develop with you and your business. File it in your business folder. It is a good idea to also copy the SWOT Analysis that you did earlier into your business folder.
Finally for today, either buy yourself a cheap diary or set up one on your computer. (I just about live on my ‘puter, but for «to dos» I find there is nothing like a good old fashioned paper and pen.) As you go through the system, you will find that you need to do things on various days, and it will be much easier to keep them sorted and avoid becoming overwhelmed if you have it written down.
Take a deep breath and take some time to digest all that I have said in this introduction. Tomorrow, we start your business!