The by-line of this site states that I am an Online Entrepreneur and Online Marketing Expert. Now I know that saying that a) I am an Entrepreneur and b) I am an expert can come across as a bit pretentious, but I think these terms accurately describe the way that I make a good living, working great hours and having time and energy to spend with my family.
For the past 11 years I have earned a living from the internet. I have been a web developer, an internet marketing consultant, a mailing list database manager, a search engine optimiser and an online strategy consultant for clients as diverse as large corporations all the way down to local bed and breakfasts. I have learned a lot over the years about what does and doesn’t work in the world of getting exposure and sales of your product using the medium of the internet.
If you look at the definition section for Entrepreneur in wikipedia, it says “An entrepreneur is someone who organizes resources in new and more valuable ways and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”
An online entrepreneur is someone who can take the raw materials of the internet, sort through the noise and competing messages, and turn them into something meaningful that people are willing to part with their hard earned cash (or paypal credits) for. Anyone with any degree of knowledge, or insight that few possess can leverage this and turn it into a blog, an online course, or a physical book marketed via the web and make a success of it. Any potential online entrepreneur should be looking at the internet as a vast reserve of renewable resources that that are ready to be harvested. You can disseminate trends and turn them into e-books, you can turn traffic into forum sites, newsletter subscribers into affiliate sales.
The second part of the definition is also relevant. Accepting full responsibility for the outcome can sound like a bad thing. If an offline business (bricks and mortar they used to say in the dot com days) with a shopfront, stock , staff and suppliers becomes unviable, it is up to the entrepreneur to cover the debts. This has meant the loss of the family home and bankruptcy for many a well meaning and hard working business person who struck some bad luck or a change in consumer sentiment in the early days of their business. But starting and running an online venture, if the scale of the business is kept at a level appropriate to the demand for the product, has very little risk involved. You can test and measure new products, marketing strategies and sales pitches before you have to rely on them to bring money in from your customers. If you are selling downloadable products, or those with a low cost to manufacture then you dont have the risk of holding outdated stock. You can run the whole show as a one man operation, using contractors and outsourcing work when required, but keeping all of the profits for yourself. You accept full responsibility for the success of the business, and reap the rewards.
I also leaned a lot during my consulting days about running a business and being an entrepreneur. I would see so many small business owners who business had become more then just their life, it had become their prison. The worked 12 hour days, seven days a week and were always on the edge of complete burn out. These people had become business owners, but in reality the business owned them. They couldn’t afford to take holidays because they had made themselves such an indispensible part of the business that it would fail to function if they werenâ€™t’ there. Not real smart when you think about it.
An online entrepreneur however sees business a little bit differently from the average business man.
An Online Entrepreneur is someone that has a diverse range of online interests that either
1. Run themselves
2. Are run by someone else
3. Are run by youÂ with minimal effort and time investment.
Having a blog that relies solely on your writing and advertising from the big networks does not really cut it in the entrepreneur stakes. There is too much emphasis on you as the point of failure for the business. If you donâ€™t write that week/day (whatever your posting schedule is) then the traffic, and therefore the dollars, quickly start to drop off. You can’t take a holiday because you are the business and the business is you. Sure, if you are using you blog to build up a profile that will allow you to sell 100,000 books then that is a different story, but just blogging for adsense is not going to make you rich (or even able to pay the rent in a bad month). It is possible to have a range of online assets working for you pretty much on autopilot. Membership sites, forums, online training, online stores. All of these can run themselves for periods of time without the owner even looking at them. This frees the owner to be able to work where they want, and when they want.
An online entrepreneur is always looking to grow, diversify and systemise their online business portfolio to generate more revenue streams with less time investment.
I think that there is a fourth key element to being an online entrepreneur, and that is the element of personality. Your personality has to shine through in what you do, to become a point of difference from the competition. This is important for offline entrepreneurs too. Take Richard Branson for example. Everything that the virgin company does has his personality all over it. Virgin is Branson and Branson is Virgin. No matter if its air travel, mobile phones or music, it all has the same carefree, fun attitude to it. Now have a look at some online entrepreneurs. Yaro over at Entrepreneurs Journey has done so well, in my opinion because his likeable, helpful and knowledgeable personality comes through in every post, newsletter and product that he delivers. The same for Darren over at problogger, or Steve Pavlina for that matter. The only thing different between your online business and that guy that reads your site and steals your ideas is that you have your personality.. Let is shine through and keep people coming back.
Till Next Time.