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Ever wanted to start a business, but are simply not sure where to start to minimise risk or expand your network? If a lack of access to capital was the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs until now, history is being kind. With the lowest barriers to entry in the global online market, the time to launch an idea for profit on the net is ripe.
Here are three considerations for launching an online business. Each is with a view to minimise risk, maximise your network and begin asking the right questions to determine your strategy.
For example, a colleague of mine worked in the growing solar heating industry. At no stage was he involved in the manufacturing, sourcing or installation of solar heating systems. It was purely a case of referring clients acquired through online marketing to another service provider (lead generation). The profit: taking a commission.
If you want to get started with minimal risk in eCommerce, consider a lead business based on this model. As you do not hold stock personally, you reduce liability while your very presence online allows you to experience eCommerce first hand. If you ultimately have plans beyond a lead business, remember a successful one is an attractive purchase for a company whose client base is largely derived from your leads.
Creating a monthly or weekly get together for interested entrepreneurs and IT commerce professionals in your area is a great way to build a network of people coming to you and through you to connect with others. Networks critically allow you to gain information at social events which are otherwise costly when getting the same information through a consultant. At the same time, the ability to add your expertise (even if simply referring someone to a website or another professional) creates value that usually spells help in return.
If you do create a network of your own, advertise it. Let entrepreneurs in other cities know that if they are visiting your part of the country, continent of the globe, that there is a valuable network awaiting them. The benefits of spearheading a network are an investment in itself. In the US, up to 80% of jobs and new businesses come through networks, not formal job of contract applications.
To control one of these networks is gold. I’ve known a number of entrepreneurs across industries who have set up or run valuable business networks to the benefit of their own career as well as those who have tapped into the network.
As Erika Flora , a blogger and principal consultant at Creative Enterprise Solutions says, if you start networking when you need something, it’s too late. “Rather, you should start building relationships and helping other people at every opportunity. That way, when you are looking for a job, you have a ton of friends that you can call on to help you out.” Flora adds she is a believer in the theory that networking is not something you do, but something you live.
A useful measure is to ask a few simple questions proposed by Out-Smart Marketing: For a start, find out what your competition is doing online, determine from clients which social media sites they use and then look at what leaders in your industry are doing.