I’m ready for a real online business. Where do I start?

I’ve been helping great people answer that question for over a decade now. Is it working? As evidence we have over a thousand positive comments and success stories to show for our efforts.

Part of my recent approach to teaching online success is to start out telling people what NOT to do because the odds are they’ve already gotten a bunch of bad advice by the time they discover my ideas.

My students are often surprised to hear me say that they definitely should NOT start their online business efforts by:

  • learning new technical, design or programming skills
  • building a website (or even worse, a bunch of them)
  • affiliate marketing to strangers
  • buying a brilliantly marketed “big launch” course from a guru
  • attending an Internet business seminar (flight + hotel followed by pitch fest)
  • subscribing to a bunch of online “experts” to soak up all the “free stuff”

So, where should you start?

I run three distinct and successful online businesses and have been doing so for years. The success rate is high when I teach the models to others. I suggest you start with the model below that best suits you. If you aren’t quite sure, then I suggest you start with number one from the below list.

Here are the three strategies of online success that my coaches and I teach:

1. Sell high profit physical goods through Amazon.com, eBay.com and possibly (eventually) your own website. Optionally, you are continually finding creative ways to automate and grow a huge customer following for future sales and connections. (The membership site MySilentTeam.com supports this concept)

2. Find a profitable niche market, be a leader in that niche and give your followers fantastic content while also selling them related products, services, training, or information that is of interest to them. (MySilentTeam.com also supports this concept). NOTE: This IS NOT the same thing as setting up a bunch of tiny niche websites! That model is DEAD & I’ve not liked it for nearly 5 years.

3. Get paid to help other businesses, experts, authors and organizations apply marketing that works to their business. (OfflineBiz.com supports this concept)

Read more about each of these strategies plus more about where NOT to start in the $5 SilentSalesMachine.com book.

Any questions or comments? Let’s talk about it! I’d love your feedback.

  • Michael

    I totally agree with your 3 positives-but not completely with the negatives-for instance it does not hurt to learn about how to out up a website, autoresponder sequence and be across the necessary details for online biz-I say this because i am building an IM training and coaching course, a niche product if you will, and i am proud to be able to help people gain a better understanding of their chosen medium in a high quality program-true you can outsource the really techie stuff, but the fundamentals are useful.

    • http://www.JimCockrum.com/ Jim Cockrum

      Great point Michael – The ONE skill I do suggest all online entrepreneurs acquire is email list management (as you point out). The rest I do hire pros to take care of. They can do it better, faster and cheaper than I can in almost all cases.

  • LindaJoseph

    Great summary! I have made money with all three strategies.

    My two biggest mistakes:
    1 – trying to do all three at once (start with one and then build the business to a point where you can outsource most of it and then start on a new strategy)
    2 – even though I have made money online, I still suffer from shiny object syndrome! Pick something and stick with it!

    Buy SSM and start thinking differently!

  • Eric du Preez

    I’m in agreement with the effectiveness of each of the 3 business models.

    I too have SUFFERED with shiny object syndrome. The only known cures are definiteness of purpose and self discipline (with which to develop and carry out your plan(s) for the attainment of your definite purpose).

    I haven’t earned any money yet – and the MAJOR reason I can be sure of is that I have failed to adequately apply one or both of the above basic principles. I can state with absolute confidence that I have ALWAYS experienced great results only when applying both principles.

    Right now I’m re-reading chapter 2: Desire, from Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. After that I’m going to read it again, study it and put it into ACTION. I urge anyone suffering from shiny object syndrome or procrastination to read and study that same chapter. It will help you get focused, fired up and ready for action.

    P.S Be sure to get hold of the 1937 edition (readily available on Amazon for well under $20).

    I didn’t intend at the outset to give any recommendations or advice, but it seems that’s what came out. With all my heart I hope this helps you succeed beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.

    • Jurgy

      as long as you are reading about it you are not doing it …

  • Eugene

    Hey Jim,

    For #1 selling profitable items online, when you say you can find ways to automate and grow a customer following for future sales, that only applys to ebay/websites right?

    One of my goals (my lifestyle goals) as I transition from my current freelance work is to be able to have some income coming in even if I decided to take a few weeks off, and be able to manage my business from different locations.

    I’m about to start off with Amazon but as far as I know the one drawback with them is that you can’t contact and build relationships with customers over time. You’re continually selling to new people. So I guess one of the limiting options is that I’ll always have to be in an area where i can go out and buy/ship new inventory, and the only way to get around this is to work a lot more in a given month or few months, have more inventory sitting and therefore selling for you while you are away.

    Wanted to clarify that with you in case I was missing anything.

    • http://www.JimCockrum.com/ Jim Cockrum

      Yes and No Eugene. You can use FBA and send all of your inventory TO amazon…they’ll ship it for you to customers when they buy. That’s a huge advantage with Amazon (it frees up your time for travel etc. without shutting down your business). But you are correct – it is far more difficult to grow a customer list with Amazon…but not impossible! There are creative sellers who are including an email invitation inside the packaging of each item they ship for example. Information products on Amazon are also a great way to grow a list (include an invite to your email list inside the product). I’m sure many creative sellers will be coming forward with new ideas and strategies over the coming months and years and we’ll be here to share it all with you.

  • http://georgenieves.com/ George Nieves

    Hi Jim,

    This is a timely post since I’m about to start selling on eBay again. I see below where you mentioned FBA. Since it IS harder to market to sellers – do you think it is better to ship the items through Amazon yourself?

    • http://www.JimCockrum.com/ Jim Cockrum

      Every situation is different, but for maximum list building you should take a hard look at shipping the product yourself so you can grow your audience more effectively.