This article is about how to become a successful online entrepreneur, but let’s be clear about something before we go any further… that Instagram worthy lifestyle isn’t a reality.
What I’m saying is that most online entrepreneurs aren’t hanging out on yachts all day every day.
Nope, not what it’s like, unless you’re also friends with T-Pain and have a guaranteed internet connection.
Learning how to become an online entrepreneur can legitimately be one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s growing a business you can be proud of. One that helps you build the life you’ve always wanted for yourself.
And if your dream life is actually standing on a yacht in your flippy-floppies, then go for it!
Even something more sensible like staying at home with your kids while making a substantial financial contribution to your family is a good goal to work for. And you can reach it by starting and owning an online business.
See, being an online entrepreneur is flexibility and control. You can scale your business based on how it fits with the rest of your life. You can work anywhere you want, anytime you want. And while it can take a bit of time and maneuvering to reach your dream life, the potential is 100% there.
What does it mean to be an online entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur goes a bit beyond just being a business owner. At the core, that is what you are. But, entrepreneur means you’re regularly looking for ways to grow and expand your business. You’re leveraging your starting point to branch out into more diverse options.
Throw in the “online” part and you’re doing all of that via the internet, which is a big, big world with lots of opportunities.
Working online reduces your initial investment, a huge factor for traditional brick and mortar business owners. This gives you the ability to scale your empire a little faster. The low cost of online business ownership also gives you the advantage of trying more things without such a large financial risk.
To put it succinctly, an online entrepreneur is one who owns and operates an online business, is focused on growth, and willing to take risks.
How to become an online entrepreneur?
There are many numbers of options for starting your online business. But what you really want to look for is something you can scale and own independently. This is different than just working online for a company, which puts you in a position with limited growth and earning potential.
With that in mind, here are three of the best ways to become an online entrepreneur…
1. Start a freelancing business
Freelancers contract out their services and skills to a variety of clients. You start by leveraging a skill you already have, which can be something like:
- Web development or design
- Graphic design
- Project management
- Legal work
- Music production
- Sound design
- Photo editing
- Sales consulting
That’s just a small list of the options.
Now, it can take a minute to hone your craft and build your business because you’ll be working on growing your client list and reputation. But once you do, you start looking for more opportunities. You’ll need a website to do so (it often acts like a portfolio for freelancers), and WordPress site hosted by Bluehost is a great place to start.
After you’ve built a reputation for being good at what you do, your client list will grow, eventually to the point that you can’t handle the workload alone.
This is when you can start growing a team. You could train others to take some clients. You can also outsource work that doesn’t need to be done by you, which allows you to focus your energy on more valuable tasks.
Growing a team is one way to grow your business, but you can also work towards entrepreneurial status by offering things like:
- Coaching services. This is where you offer one-on-one help for clients wanting to hone in on specific skills.
- Creating courses. If you have a good system in place that you’ve used to grow your own business, you can develop a course that teaches other freelancers how to do the same.
- Start related side businesses. This can be hard to imagine when you’re starting, but there are lots of business options that can grow out of your core business. Starting something connected to what you’re currently doing will help you diversify your income.
Our very own Mike Yanda basically did all of those things with his digital marketing agency. You’ll read more about this in just a second, but he started running Facebook ads on his own, grew his team, created a course, and eventually started this site.
Laptop Empires is a side business that helps other burgeoning online entrepreneurs grow their own businesses. He started with one freelance skill, leveraged it to create a business, leveraged what he learned doing that to create another, and so on.
And now, this is Mike’s life…
No it isn’t. Sorry.
2. Start a digital marketing agency
We’ve already said that the internet is full of opportunities for building a business, but it’s also one of the best ways for current business owners to reach new customers. And as more and more people spend a good portion of their day on the web, advertising online is only going to increase in demand.
The best way to start this business option is with Facebook. With nearly 2.4 billion users, it’s ripe with potential for both big and small businesses to increase their exposure and grow their income. That’s exactly why the Facebook Side Hustle Course was created.
Using their vast experience and knowledge running Facebook ads for a variety of business, Mike Yanda and Bobby Hoyt (aka Millennial Money Man) designed the FBSH course to teach you how to:
- Create an effective ad strategy for small businesses
- How to run those ads (can take around 3-5 hours a week per client)
- How to find potential clients
- And, how to get those clients to pay for your services (around $1,000-$1,500/month per client)
The reason this is a good place for future online entrepreneurs to start is because of the potential for growth. The Facebook Side Hustle Course has students who are now making $5,000/month and more. And when you keep scaling that business, you can grow a team of digital marketers, like Mike did.
When you run ads online, there are virtually an unlimited number of markets you can work in. When you find your niche, you’ll start getting better at what you do – seeing consistent results because you know what strategy works for businesses in your niche. This can lead to becoming somewhat of an expert in your field, and people will pay good money for that kind of knowledge.
3. Start a blog
Blogging is pretty different than those other two ideas because your growth is so much slower. They’re like the internet’s version of the sloth – everyone loves them, but why do they take so long to go anywhere??
This is a blog.
Seriously, you could find your first freelance or Facebook client the day you start your business, but blogging… it can take months to earn any cash at all.
But then why is it on this list of online entrepreneur ideas?
Because blogging is scalable, flexible, and full of potential.
You also don’t need any particular skill set or training to start. I mean, it would help if you had a knack for or enjoy storytelling. That’s essentially what you’re doing with a blog.
And you can blog about anything… cooking, parenting, parents who cook, kids who cook, sewing, knitting, sloths, making money, working out, movies, etc., etc., etc.
You learn as you go, and you can do it all outside of your normal job. Once you start making some money, you can start investing in some things that will help you earn more, like:
- A good site design
- Better hosting services
- Getting a good email service provider to grow your list (actually do this from day one, and MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers)
The reality, though, is that not everyone who starts a blog is going to make the big bucks. Like we mentioned, it’s a sloooowwwww business model. You also get out of it what you put into it.
For those who grow into successful bloggers, they’ve been able to leave their day jobs, retire early, travel more often. They start side businesses, write books, are mentioned in the media, and more. They’ve done it all while doing something they’re passionate about from the comfort of their home.
If you’re interested in starting a blog, read more at Launch That Blog. It’s a free service that sets up a WordPress blog for you. It makes sure you have a professional-looking blog from day one while taking care of all the technical work.
How to quit your job to become an online entrepreneur
If any of those ideas piqued your interest, it’s possible that you’re currently working another job (or two) already. And quitting your job right now, at this very moment isn’t a realistic option.
With that being said, here’s some advice on when and how to make the leap…
Have a steady stream of income
Your transition to full-time self-employment is going to be infinitely easier if you know money is coming in, and it’s better if you know how much and how often. This could be a few clients, building your blogging income to a certain point, etc.
Build a financial cushion
The rule of thumb for self-employed people is to have around six months of expenses set aside. That might seem like a lot, but this will protect you from wrecking your finances while you’re finding your footing.
Finding people who are doing what you’re doing can be a huge asset. They can help you find clients, come up with business ideas, commiserate with you, etc. No one should go at it completely alone.
Be confident in your decision
Leaving a steady, paying job is terrifying. You’re stepping into the abyss and hoping there’s money out there. Don’t worry, it’s there! Fear makes it really easy to push things off. On the other side, some people are so excited to leave their job that they do it before they have everything in order, then they start wondering if they did the right thing.
Only you know the right time to leave, and you just have to believe in your decision and start hustling.
What makes for a successful online entrepreneur
Being an online entrepreneur is like nothing you’ve ever done before. It’s a wild ride that has the potential to create a life you never knew existed. But entrepreneurs share some key traits and habits that are nearly impossible to survive without.
To be successful online, you’ll need:
- When you own your own business, you have to show up every day no matter what. Find what’s driving you, and channel that when you’re feeling like you’ve reached your limit.
- Being able to find new and innovative solutions and ideas is what will separate you from everyone else.
- Having a long-term plan for your business can help you see the work ahead of you so that you can make things happen.
- Risk tolerance. Being willing to fail will be one of your greatest assets. Know the risks going in, but failing teaches you how to pivot and move forward.
- A tribe. Being an online entrepreneur means you’re often going at it alone, so surround yourself with like-minded people who encourage and inspire you.
- Growing your business doesn’t always take financial capital, but sometimes it does. To grow yourself and your business, be willing to take some time or monetary investments in personal development, courses, new software, education, etc.
What the lifestyle is really like
Here’s the reality, nothing is ever what it looks like online. We’re all guilty of projecting a better version of ourselves on social media, and online entrepreneurs are just as much to blame. Some toss up a happy picture that’s filtered for maximum bliss to cope with the hard reality of what life is really like.
The truth is that you spend a whole lot of time watching others around you do amazing things while you’re trying to do something like generating an email sequence that catches some new leads. You also get fired by clients, get unsubs, and get negative feedback. Those things can happen while you’re sitting on the beach sipping on a hard-earned drink. But just know that it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time.
The other reality is that you’re growing a business that’s situated in the middle of your normal everyday life. That might be working at your dining room table surrounded by piles of laundry, while your kids are screaming in the background.
This is much closer to what it’s like to be a work-at-home online entrepreneur.
You have to carve out moments of bliss for yourself, and it’s often hard to find that amid everything else that’s happening around you.
And just like any business, there are ebbs and flows. You’ll have a bad day, week, or month and you’ll have some really good ones. Being prepared both mentally and financially for those ebbs and flows is one of the best things you can do to succeed.
The final word – why you’ll love being an online entrepreneur
If that last section sounded a little dire, we didn’t mean to put you off completely. Honestly, there is so much good that comes from building and running your own business, despite what you just read.
When you do something that you’re passionate about, it makes it so much easier to get up and hustle every day. There’s also nothing more satisfying than seeing something that you’ve created succeed. This is going to sound totally cheesy, but it’s a little like watching your kid learn to walk or read.
But owning your own business is not the same as having a child because as an online entrepreneur, you are in control.
You get to direct your business, scale it, pick when you work, and be your own boss. Okay, it’s nothing like having a child. But it is fulfilling and can completely change your life for the better.