The shift from a traditional consulting time and expense model that our BRS business was built on, to a one to many approach, where we were selling services online was not a simple transition to make. Not only did we have to educate ourselves around how to deliver our content online and create an experience for our members, but we had to learn how to sell and market our products and services online. When you don’t come from a marketing background and you have built a reputable business through relationships, delivering great outcomes for clients, repeat work and referrals, this is no easy feat. As the last thing you want to do it to tarnish the great brand of your other business that you have taken years of hard work and determination to build.
When we first launched easyconsult over a year ago, there were so many things we didn’t get it right. It was a very steep learning curve and although we did some things really well we also made many mistakes. Fortunately we managed to get most of the high value high impact decisions right, so we had a great platform to improve. But like everything, you need to go through the process and make the mistakes and learn from them in order to build a great business. Although we are still constantly learning and implementing new knowledge and systems, we have worked out what works and what doesn’t. We have also now replicated this model for government leaders in our aim to create more visionary, connected, innovative and effective government leaders (if you haven’t checked this out yet, please do! www.easygovernment.com.au).
It turns out we are not the only knowledge based business trying to innovate and deliver content online, so I thought I would share my top 10 list of items to consider when starting your online business.
1. Have a plan in place. You need to be clear on what it is you want to achieve and having a plan in place allows you to stay focused on the outcomes and prioritise what matters
2. Do your research. Why are you unique? Is there a market for your product/service? Have you got the right pricing model?
3. Educate yourself. You don’t need to know every detail across all areas of technology or other aspects of the business, but you need to know or have access to people that do
4. Learn how to outsource offshore. If you are starting a business on a shoe string, you need to learn how to access experience and expertise on a budget, and how to virtually manage them
5. Know your product and/or services you aim to sell and the benefits to your target audience
6. Know your target market, and be specific. You need to know and work your niche and stick to it
7. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you start to market and sell, get out there and make sure people are actually going to purchase your service/product which includes an element of trial and error until you get it right
8. Prepare your ‘elevator pitch’ what it is you do and what are you selling in a 30 second summary
9. You must blog. Your blog will build a content rich website that will attract potential clients to your website, build your reputation as a thought leader and improve your SEO as google loves timely and relevant content
10. Be persistent. You are going to make mistakes and there will be a lot of things that don’t work. But you need to make mistakes to learn, grow and improve your business.
Moving your business online is challenging, because most consultants are usually technically great at what they do but can find the situation daunting when put into an unfamiliar environment like selling services online. If you have gone through the process of starting your own business then you will appreciate how steep the learning curve can be and starting an online business is not dissimilar to this. Regardless of what you choose to do, knowledge based businesses are going online and if you want to be leading the way and be part of this new wave then you too will need to take the plunge and join the ride. It is all about leveraging your valuable IP in the right way!