Reality: Depending on the type of business you wish to start, your start-up costs can be as little as 50 bucks.
The fact is, most businesses do NOT need to incur expensive start-up costs… and most businesses should not invest a lot of start-up capital before they’ve tested their business and their market online. That’s where so many "dot bombs" made such a grave mistake in the past, and there’s just no need to take that risk.
Only once you’ve tested your business idea on the ‘Net and found it to be a viable opportunity should you start investing in the kind of software, web design, inventory (or whatever) that you’ll need to grow your business. Then again, you may want to just do it all yourself every step of the way…
We started our first site in 1996 on a budget of 20 bucks.
MYTH #2: I need to be an expert before I can start a business
Reality: It’s really a shame that so many people put off starting the online business they’re dreaming of because they think that before they can start, they need to become a web designer… a search engine expert… a programmer… and an MBA.
The truth is that the most successful people on the Internet are often none of the above!
The key: Learn just ONE thing, and learn it well… then move on to the NEXT strategy, and the next, and the next…
Anybody can start an online business. All it takes is a little courage to start and a little resolve to keep going and keep learning new strategies, techniques, and ways to grow and improve your business.
MYTH #3: All the good Internet business ideas are gone
And there are so many proven business models on the ‘Net that you can simply follow… or there’s plenty of room for you to develop your own, unique approach to your market. And there are so many different things you can sell! For example, you could…
- Sell your own products
- Sell your own services
- Drop ship products
- Recommend affiliate products
- Sell ad space
- Joint venture with like-minded businesses
- Start an affiliate program
… and more.
These are the top online profit streams, but of course you can always find others. Plus, there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate several of them into your business model! The key is to focus on one, maximize revenue from it, and then move on to the next.
MYTH #4: I need a good product idea before I can start
Reality: You do not need a product idea to start — and not only that: If you do start with a product idea… you’ll be off to a bad start!
The reality is, most businesses that start off with what they think is a good product idea are destined for failure. Your product might be great, but if nobody wants it, your business isn’t going to get very far!
That’s why it makes so much more sense to look for your market first. If you can find a need in a market you can reach, then simply give them what they’re asking for… your business is bound for success from day one.
For example, we know a man named Eric Weeks who doesn’t really like trucks very much — he’s never owned one himself. But when he noticed that thousands of people search the Internet for "truck accessories" every day, he knew there was a market just waiting for him to give them what they needed…
Well, we interviewed Eric for our "Secrets To Their Success" Private Web Site when his Truck-Bed-Covers.com site was only one year old… and already Eric was generating $800,000 annually in online sales!
Eric’s advice is, "I sure as heck wouldn’t consider building an e-commerce site on personal interests. So whether it’s weight loss or travel, home business or truck bed covers… if enough people are interested in those subjects, then THERE is where you need to apply your efforts."
It pays to remember: Find your market first. Then look for a product to give them.
MYTH #5: I need "brand recognition" on the Internet
Reality: Online branding has been preached in the past as one of the big "Do or Die" marketing strategies. But the fact is, "brand recognition" is something you probably don’t even need.
Effective branding creates the kind of fierce product loyalty that leaves customers indifferent to the marketing tactics of the competition. It’s what compels you to walk past all of those no-name-brand on-sale colas at the local grocery store and pick up the 6-pack of Coca-Cola that costs three times more. It’s what makes children plead and beg to go back to McDonalds again and again. And it’s what has made the phrase "Just Do It" synonymous with Nike.
It’s all very impressive, right? Well… yes. But the truth is, most small, online business do NOT need to make their company or product a household name — and will likely go bankrupt trying.
You’ll be most successful and most profitable if you closely target your market. Focus on getting your business name and your advertising in front of your best potential customers — the people who have an expressed interest in what you’re offering — as opposed to everyone!
If you’re a small or home-based business then, chances are, you don’t have the millions of advertising dollars it takes to build a nationally recognized brand and make your company a household name — at least not yet!
So let’s skip the high-priced large corporate branding techniques — after all, these strategies simply don’t translate to e-businesses with limited advertising budgets — and instead, focus on your target market.
MYTH #6: Affiliate programs are hard to start
Reality: Enlisting an army of affiliates is extremely easy!
The great thing about affiliate programs is that it’s easy to persuade people to join. They have nothing to lose as there’s no cost to them, it just takes them a few minutes to get set up, and they have the potential to make a lot of money!
They persuade visitors to click through to your site by posting a simple banner ad or text link on their web site — or perhaps by writing a short referral letter to their customers — and you do everything else. You lead the visitor through your web site, close the sale, process their payment, fulfill their order, and handle any customer service issues.
You also track how many orders each affiliate sends you, calculate their commissions, and ensure that they get paid what they deserve. You take care of the big issues and they get paid for simply referring new customers to your site.
So what’s in it for you?
There are no advertising costs! With your own affiliate program, you only pay for advertising that gets results! It doesn’t matter how much traffic an affiliate’s site receives — whether the site gets 10 visitors a day or 10,000 visitors a day! You are paying on a per result basis… so you make money every single time!
And, thanks to affiliate tracking software, managing hundreds, even thousands, of affiliates is extremely easy. The software automatically keeps track of which affiliate made which sale… where each customer is coming from… exactly how much you owe each affiliate… etc.
So tracking 10,000 affiliates is just as easy as tracking one affiliate! It takes us about two days a month to run our affiliate program — and we have over 100,000 affiliates who generate over $3 million in business for us every year! (That’s about $250,000 in sales for every day that we work on it!)
So the moral of this story is: Affiliate programs are incredibly easy to start, easy to run, and definitely worth your while!
MYTH #7: Pay-per-click advertising is expensive and doesn’t work
Reality: Pay-per-click listings are an excellent option for small online businesses, or for those of you who need a quick, cheap injection of highly targeted traffic to your web site!
Pay-per-clicks can get you to where you want to go in the search engines fast — and if you ensure that you are not competing against large, wealthy corporations for hugely popular keywords, you can get there without spending a lot of money.
If you are just getting started online, you are in an especially interesting position to begin experimenting with the pay-per-clicks, because the beauty of pay-per-click advertising is that you can see immediate results. You don’t have to wait weeks or months for your listing to be posted. You can simply fork over the cash for a top-three position and see how it affects your business…
Just keep it simple! Don’t try to outbid industry giants who can afford to pay big money for the highest-traffic terms. Go after the lower numbers and the neglected terms that you can scoop up for next to nothing and use to your enormous advantage.
If you don’t get the kind of ROI (return on investment) you expected, you can simply cancel your bids for that spot, and try out another one!
You can test, hone, re-test, and perfect your pay-per-click marketing campaign very easily with pay-per-click search engines, as long as you keep an eye on your bid amounts and watch to ensure that you are always at least breaking even on your bids.
MYTH #8: "If you build it, they will come"
Reality: Many people think that if they build an attractive, well-designed web site, people will come to it.
Don’t believe it! It may be true of phantom baseball players in Kevin Costner movies… but it’s not true for YOUR business on the Internet!
You can’t just build a pretty web site and pack it full of interesting, useful information… and expect it to succeed. No matter HOW good your site or your business model may be, this just won’t work.
Why? Because nobody will find you!
People won’t just appear out of nowhere. In order to build a business that has a good chance of being successful, you have to take your great business model and your beautiful web site… and promote the heck out of it!
You know how the old saying in the brick-and-mortar business is "location, location, location"?
Well, online, you could say that the key to success is: "Promotion, promotion, promotion!" The only way to get people coming to your web site is to let them know about it… and to put it right in front of their faces at every opportunity. Whatever marketing techniques you choose, whether they’re free or paid, online or offline, small scale or huge endeavors, make sure that you’re running your promotional campaigns constantly and that you test their effectiveness.
MYTH #9: Viral marketing does not work!
Reality: Viral marketing allows you to exponentially increase your visibility online by turning your existing network of clients and newsletter subscribers into a giant word-of-mouth referral machine!
Much like a flu virus which can easily spread from one person to many others, awareness of your company can be dramatically increased by persuading your clients and subscribers to refer you to their friends and family.
Hotmail, for example, is probably the BEST example of viral marketing there is. Why? Because their phenomenal success has been based on their simple tactic of adding a small Hotmail advertisement to the bottom of every e-mail sent by a user on the Hotmail system.
A Hotmail user sends a friend an e-mail. At the bottom of the e-mail, the following advertisement appears:
Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
The friend thinks to themselves, "Hey Look! I can get a free e-mail account from MSN Hotmail. Obviously they are a reputable company because my friend has an account with them… I think I’ll sign up for one too!"
A word-of-mouth referral from a trusted friend or relative carries much more weight than self-proclamations of greatness!
So the friend clicks on the Hotmail link and heads off to get their very own Hotmail account. Essentially, Hotmail has developed the ultimate referral system! Hotmail users promote Hotmail each and every time they send an e-mail.
The power of viral marketing lies in the snowball effect these referrals can have on your business. And these referrals pack a great deal of punch, because people who learn about your business via a third party are much more likely to trust you.
So believe it when we tell you that viral marketing does work, and it works very well.
MYTH #10: My customers don’t want me to e-mail them
Reality: If you don’t e-mail your customers and subscribers, you’ll be doing them a disservice!
Think about it: Your opt-in e-mail list is made up of people who want to hear from you. (They’ve visited your site, or they’ve come into your shop, and they’ve decided that they like what they see enough to give you their e-mail addresses.)
And that means you are giving your customers and subscribers something they’ve asked you for. When someone gives you their e-mail address, they understand that you’ll be using it to send them information that they actually WANT to receive.
Plus, you are developing valuable lifetime relationships with your customers and subscribers. E-mail allows you to contact the people on your list over and over again, so that you can build genuine relationships with them. Don’t think your customers won’t appreciate this!
And the best part is that e-mail marketing really works! 82% of online buyers have completed at least one purchase in response to an e-mail promotion. With numbers like these, you can understand why we’re always stunned to hear about a business that STILL hasn’t started using e-mail marketing.
MYTH #11: Web salescopy should be short
Reality: Long copy is generally preached as a "no-no" by online marketers. They’ll tell you that you should stick to using multiple short "pages" that contain a single, complete thought.
But do you know what I discovered after extensive testing and re-testing? Long copy sells! The key here is that if people are interested, they will read as much as you can write. I have proven this time and time again.
We have always used a direct salesletter that is about eight pages long….
We use these eight pages to walk the reader smoothly through the sales process… so by the time the reader arrives at the section where we explain our offer and ask for the sale, they are convinced of the value of the product and are open to our sales "pitch."
Have we tried short copy on this site? You bet!
We tested a multi-page web site, but when we broke it down into four separate web pages, sales dropped by almost 70%!
The fact is, a well-constructed salesletter leads people through each stage of the sales process, giving them exactly the right information at exactly the right time to ensure that you overcome their objections to buy and close the sale successfully.
It takes a certain amount of time to orchestrate this process, and you need to implement a number of steps to create the right formula. That’s why your salescopy often needs to be long.
So the moral of this story is, long copy can definitely work!
It all depends on your business, your market, and the product or service that you are trying to sell. You should take the time to test both strategies on your web site and see which works best for you.ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Internet marketing expert Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to successfully start, build, and grow their own profitable online businesses on small budgets. To get instant access to the step-by-step strategies, tools, and resources he's used to grow just $25 into over $60 Million in online sales, visit: http://www.marketingtips.com