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The Making Of An Online Business – Promotion

This is the last article from the series The Making Of An Online Business. So far, we talked about starting your own business, your projects, your teams, money management and partnerships. Today, we’ll focus on the last crucial topic in making an online business, and that is about promotion.

If you came here directly I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the articles, and the summary by following the links below:

What Is Promotion?

Promotion is basically spreading the word about what you do. It’s not advertising. It’s not lobbying. It’s not SEO, or direct email. Promotion is the simple fact of letting the world knowing that you started to operate your own online business. It’s so simple that in 99% of situation gets overlooked. Just tell people that you started it.

Why it’s so important about that? The real stake here is not to grow your client base, although you will have to do that sooner or later, but the shift towards your new identity. You will be a different person that the person that didn’t had that business. You need to be in that persons shoes and you need to do that faster.

It’s also important to tell that to as many people as you can in order to reinforce your choice. In other words, to use the outside world as a reflection of your choice. There will be times of trouble and you will tend to go back. It’s human and it’s a sort of a necessary strength test at some point. But if you’ve already told the Universe that you are a new person, going back to the old one will be harder. Might sounds funny now, but it works, believe me.

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The Making Of An Online Business – Partnerships

This is the 5th article of the Making Of An Online Business series and it will deal with your partnerships. After talking about your projects, teams and money, it’s time do dig a little on your alliances, associations, or, in other words, partnerships.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles in this series by clicking on the links below:

What’s A Partnership?

A partnership is at the organizational level what your team is at your human resources level. As the words imply, it is a resource, a complementary resource that will provide more value to your business.

Generally speaking, a partnership is an alliance in which each part is providing specific values to the other parts. It is based on trust, acceptance and common goals or resources. A partnership is a temporary association of two or more organizations in order to attain a specific goal faster or with fewer resources consumption.

Why Partnerships?

I will say this again, until it will be really clear: online is the most dynamic business context ever. Things are happening lightening fast. Like really lightening fast. Keeping the old individualistic approach of “I’m the best in my field” won’t work anymore. Because you can’t be the best in your field anymore. You can only offer a slightly more interesting perspective than your competition, and even that only for a limited time.

If you want to increase your market penetration, you have to let go a little on your ego and trust on partnerships. I’m not saying to rely exclusively on partnerships, but treat them at least as necessary tools for expansion.

The real trick here is to chose your partners extremely carefully. They must operate in the same business context as you, but they don’t have to make the same things as you. They will be, of course, your competition, in this case. I can’t believe how many people ignore this simple and apparently dumb rule when they are going out for partners. And they do that by either trying to partner with the competition (not a bad thing for a desperate business, by the way) either by going for partnerships way too far from their audience.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Money

This is the 3rd article from The Making Of An Online Business series, and it will focus on the money part. If you’re looking for a way to monetize your project, I covered this topic in the second article of the series, about creating and maintaining online projects, which you can find on the link list below.

This post will deal with my way of interacting with money as an online entrepreneur. There are tons of other blogs or courses from where you can learn the basics of money management, so don’t expect to find that kind of information in this article. Instead, expect to find some fresh approach to money interaction as a whole, applied to an online business.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles and the summary by following the links below:

Start Your Own Business
The Making Of An Online Business – The Series
The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects
The Making Of An Online Business – The Team

Money Is Hot

From the early beginning I will tell you that I always felt money is hot. Meaning I can’t really keep it in my hand. In fact, money was so hot for me than I rarely saw it in big piles. Every time I had a serious amount of money available I was reinvesting it like the next second. Please note the difference: spending versus reinvesting.

And it was a good decision. By reinvesting the money in my own business I accomplished at least 3 good things:

1.  I always had new projects coming

This is crucial in the online. As I wrote before, online has the highest availability degree you can imagine, higher than any other business field, but it has also the tiniest loyalty mark, so your audience can be stolen away almost instantly. You have to be able to offer new things, you have to innovate, to re-create stuff. And fueling your R & D department with generosity is the easiest way to keep you on top.

Don’t expect that any projects you launch to be a success. But do expect to learn from any of your projects, both successful or unsuccessful. Spending money on new projects is like paying for your own education.

2. I soon learned that money is a resource not a goal

Too often money is seen as a goal. Blame the modern society, consumerism, your mom and dad. You can’t deny that, everybody judge success by the amount of money you have in the bank. But if you have the courage to not pile money out of your business and reinvesting it back, treating it like a resource, you will grow your business. And in the end that’s the only thing that matters.

You can win a lot of money out of one project and then get scared not to loose it and stop reinvesting it in new projects. Big and dumb mistake. Money is not the stake, growth is the stake.

3. I always had to closely watch the money flow

Starting new projects constantly makes for a great financial discipline, because you really have to know all the time if you do have enough resources to keep you going. I learned to maintain a constant money discipline, and that thing is benefiting me now tremendously. I always know how much money I have, even if you wake me in the middle of the night.

Knowing how much money you have, how much money you can spend and how much money you will make out of something has nothing to do with scarcity. It’s a transparent mindset that keeps you connected. It’s like always knowing your resources and potential and avoid walking on thin ice.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Team

That’s the third article for “The Making Of An Online Business” series, and it will deal with a sensitive topic: human resources. For those of you who came directly here, the posts in this series outlines my 10 years experience in running my own online business. The first two articles can be found here

Start Your Own Business
The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects

and the summary for the whole series can be found here.

It’s About Relationships

The first and most important thing I learned during this fantastic experience was the fact that teams are not at all about results, but about relationships. Too often people are judged for their contribution to the assets of the company, but their real value lies in what they can provide at the relationship level. Maybe they can have skills, but if they are not able to relate in way that would make those skills openly and honestly available, their contribution is lost.

A good relationship means that communication goes well even if the skills are not. You have to be able to communicate your ideas and goals to all members of your team. Even if they don’t have the skills at the moment, they must understand what they have to do. The resources to do what has to be done will come, one way or another.

My team was around 25 people at its peak, with an average of 10-15 people most of the time. Maybe this approach is biased by the fact that my teams were pretty small, but if the relationship factor was so important in such a small universe, imagine how important it will be for a business with 100 or 500 employees.

There are just two main types of relationships you can have in business: the relationships between you, the manager / owner / entrepreneur with your employees, and the relationships they can have with one each other. The first model is radiant, you will be the epicenter and you will basically control what goes out, but the second is more like a graph, a web. Trying to control this web of relationships between your employees is impossible. You can’t really control that.

What you can do, however, is to be sure they all have the same set of attitudes that will make their relationships sustainable over time. All those people must share some core values about the way they relate. And when they face problems, if they have the same attitude toward problems they will eventually overcome the obstacle. But if they have only skills and no common attitude, their skills will be just useless.

The truth is that you cannot really create something on a damaged foundation. No matter how much money you put in, how much technical skills are you pouring in, no matter how much luck you may have at some point. A business is a web of relationships and if this web is broken, you won’t be able to catch your prey. If there are significant holes in this web, you will lose opportunities and spend your time repairing those holes.

That is against the normal, established human resources techniques and I’m quite aware about that. Every human resources approach focus on skills, and every CV you read emphasize that. I gave up reading CV’s long ago. A CV can only tell you about skills, but not about attitude. And attitude was the main factor for my human resources policy.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects

This is the second article in the series about managing an online business. It will focus on what you actually do in an online business, how can you measure it, the various stages of each project and how you can monetize your work. If you came here directly you can go back to the summary of the whole series or you can start with the first article which deals with starting your own business.

Please keep in mind that this post is rather long, more than 3000 words, so  make sure you are away from interruptions when start reading it. If you can’t read it now, you can bookmark it and come back later.

Online Processes

More than in any other business, in the online universe, a product (i.e. a website) is more like a process and not like an object.

If you are in the furniture business, you’re selling objects. A chair, a table, a couch. Every once in a while you change a little the design, but you are largely selling objects.

In the online field, you sell things which are continuously shaping. An online service is by definition dynamic. Your websites need continuous upgrade, otherwise they will fade as importance and eventually lose their audience.

The online has a high availability, which means your potential audience is huge. But the online has also a high volatility degree, which means that the potential huge audience is very easy to be moved toward your competitors.

Online Projects Metrics

You need a way to quantify the behavior of your websites in order to measure their success. Otherwise you’ll be lost in the jungle of millions of other websites, portals, forums, blogs or online shops. I worked with only three main online project metrics:

– traffic, the total number of users that accessed that website in a given time interval
– money, the total amount of money that website produced in a given time interval
– resource consumption, how many resources (people, money, assets) that website consumed in a given interval.

Although it seems pretty straightforward, the way in which those three metrics can combine is infinite. You can have projects with minimal traffic but with good money flow in. You can have websites with little or no money in, but with huge traffic (I guess the most famous example is YouTube in this area). Or you can have websites with zero resource consumption (auto-pilot websites) with no money in and just a decent traffic. but still consider them as successes. Each combination of those factors can play a role in the bigger picture and you must not overlook any possible outcome.

Now, let’s take each metric and see how you can interpret it.

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