Top 5 Tips for Internet Entrepreneurs

You’re thinking about taking that leap of faith and building a web-based business, joining the other 125 million entrepreneurs that populate today’s web. So you talk to some friends, you do a little research on-site designers and maybe you even call one. Be sensible and take it slow. No need to jump in head first, right? But what do you sell? Products? Services? It might be products or it might be services – the web is all about selling. However, with 125 million websites already live and 6,000 new launches daily, you might be a bit behind the curve.

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In this economy, it is no surprise that recent college graduates are working odd-jobs to support themselves, but what is surprising is that many new graduates are choosing entrepreneurship over a traditional career path. They live nomadic lives, and many graduates are re-thinking the corporate path in order to start their own Internet company, many times, over the objections of their parents and friends. Entrepreneurship is about risk-taking…right? So many college grads are rejecting the corporate career path to form their own startup. Entrepreneurship is about perusing a bigger dream….being an Internet entrepreneur which means you can work whenever you want, wherever you want, and be your own boss. The kind of risk that many college graduates are taking leads to them having a different lifestyle than a traditional employee: no office, no desk, and just laptops and lots of energy. Now that companies are shaking off the recession and aggressively recruiting vendors to partner with, there are more options for people looking to start a new business and leverage their skills in order to build their own dream.

1. Start with a business plan.

If you wrote out your business plan on the back of a cocktail napkin, you’re almost certainly not yet ready for tip #2. What are your company’s goals and objectives? How fast do you think your company will grow? Who will be your primary customers and how many do you need in order to break even? Without a business plan, your dream of starting a new Internet business is still in the fantasy stages.

2. Niche marketing or mass marketing?

Competition on the Internet is brutal and you can’t be all things to all people, so many Internet entrepreneurs are choosing the niche path in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Niche companies must offer a limited product line because the size of the market is much narrower and the needs are much more homogeneous. Mass marketing, on the other hand, is wider in its scope. Mass markets sell products to larger consumer groups. Web-based, mass marketing makes use of general keyword and meta titles in order to capture a larger audience. To reduce the risk of mass marketing, plenty of mass marketers instead make use of niche marketing. Niche marketers make use of specific keywords in order to faster gain valuable traffic.

3. Determine the market potential of your product or service.

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Do your research and determine whether or not the service or product you plan to offer is marketable. How does your product or service differ from everything else on the market? If the answer is “not much” then you need to re-think your product or service. Remember that you’ve got to convince lenders, employees, and others that the market you’re after is relatively large and growing. You will need to be a salesperson in order to be an effective entrepreneur.

4. Determine your demographic.

Did you know that older users – especially technophobe’s – don’t use the browser’s back button. Heck, a lot of this oldie but goodies don’t even know they have a back button on their browser. They don’t even know they have a browser. On the other hand, if your sweet spot is the 16-30-year-old male buyer, you can get away with using cool graphics to pull in these savvy web surfers to look around your website. If you’re selling to older buyers, keep it simple. Younger buyers, keep it smoking’.

5. Put your most popular or enticing offerings on the home page.

Remember when you have enticed a new Internet user to browse your page, you have exactly 10 seconds to grab that visitors’ attention. So, take extra care in designing your home page, but don’t assume that all visitors will land at your front door. Depending on the query words entered by the search engine user, that visitor may end up on a landing page deep within the site so every page should have a little something special to keep visitors on site long enough to buy something.

With the evolution of social media marketing, it is easy for new Internet entrepreneurs to overlook this crucial source of traffic. And the most important thing to remember is… in order to generate traffic to your website, you need to provide valuable content to your visitors. Valuable content on the Internet comes in many forms such as videos, articles, and images. But for search engine optimization, original, quality content is an absolute necessity. If you are not a writer, hire someone that is. Or better yet, brush up on your own writing skills. Remember, being the CEO of a web-based startup means you will need to wear many hats and writing is something that is a good use of your time. Write each week and post to your website or blog. Proofread and spell check before posting online.

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Start early on and develop and maintain a quality email list of people who are interested in receiving weekly mail outs of your content. Do not buy email lists and if someone opts out of your list, immediately remove their address from your database. Remember, quality is key. It is better to have a list of ten readers who are genuinely interested in your content, rather than one thousand email addresses of people who could not care less about looking at your email. Put a well designed “sign up form” on your website. Draw attention to your “sign up form” by hovering it over your website or adding an attractive icon to it and catch visitors’ attention. Make it enticing to join your list by offering a coupon, giveaway, or valuable information.

Amanda R. Dubose

Spent high school summers getting to know dogmas in Minneapolis, MN. Spent several years merchandising walnuts worldwide. My current pet project is researching Slinkies in Jacksonville, FL. Spoke at an international conference about testing the market for action figures in Hanford, CA. Spent the better part of the 90's lecturing about cellos in Orlando, FL. Spent 2001-2007 building sausage in Naples, FL. Tv fanatic. Internetaholic. Travel expert. Incurable zombie nerd. Coffee advocate. Hardcore web trailblazer. Gamer.