In this second edition of the “Secrets of Aussie Online Entrepreneurs” blog, I’ve outlined the words of wisdom I’ve gleaned from interviewing some of Australia’s top online business owners.
As part of the new online interview series we’ve created for the Fairfax TV network, “Secrets of Aussie Online Entrepreneurs”, I’ve had the very good fortune to be interviewing some of Australia’s hottest, most successful online entrepreneurs.
Some of those entrepreneurs include
- Rick Chen – Co-founder, Pozible.com – Australia’s top crowdfunding site
- Luke Guilliani – Founder, OurSay.org
- James Tuckerman – Founder, AnthillOnline.com.au
- Dean Ramler –co-founder with Ruslan Kogan in top online furniture e-tailer Milan Direct
- Jon Yeo – TEDx
- Yvonne Adele (aka Ms Megabyte) – Founder ‘Ideas While You Sleep’
- …and many more.
Interestingly, the same themes about what they learnt and what they’d do differently if they had their time over-cropped up, time and again. That got me thinking that maybe there are a few key lessons that every entrepreneur should know about. That’s what this blog is about today.
Here are some of the gems I learned about setting up an online business: (these are not direct quotes but an amalgamation of what many of them said):
1. “Test your idea, and test it and test it again before investing big bucks. Go to the outsourcing sites, hire a web developer etc and just start. The only way to know if your business will survive is to put it out to the market for everyone to see.”
2. “If you haven’t maxed out your credit card on building your business, you have no right to ask others to invest in your business either. Unless you’re fully invested in the business and can demonstrate to others that you have put your money where your mouth, then you can’t honestly expect others to do the same.”
3. “Content is king. Don’t skimp on writing great content, and make sure you get it optimised. Google loves content so if you’re going to spend your time on one key activity, make sure you get great content.”
4. “Be passionate about your business idea. Don’t do it just for the money but do it because you love it. You’re going to be living, breathing this ‘beast’ for many years to come, so you better love what you do or else you won’t be able to sustain the energy and enthusiasm for it in the long haul.”
5. “Write blogs. Tell the world about what you’re doing and get your blogs distributed as widely as you can. Make sure they have your keywords embedded in them so that they drive traffic to your site, but most of all, it’s about getting your word out to the world about who you are, what you do and why you’re brilliant at it.”
6. “Video is the future. If you haven’t got some form of video on your site, you’re losing out to those who have. It doesn’t have to be the fully produced, high-quality stuff we see on TV today- even just mobile phone video footage is ok – but make sure it’s interesting, has a story to tell and is shareable.”
7. “Pick good people to work with. Finding a team that is trained and skilled to do what you want them to do is the hardest part about setting up an online business that’s primed for rapid expansion. Offer them a slice of the business or find a way to keep them engaged so that they can feel invested in the business.”
8. “The jobs of the future don’t exist yet. Everyone will need a degree or some form of further education because you’ll be competing with a globalised workforce who can do it faster, cheaper and smarter than you – so you better be good at what you do. The world is now your competition.”
9. “Stay healthy, find a hobby, get out of the business to clear your head and make sure you look after yourself. It’s tempting to work 24/7 in an internet business but if you don’t look after yourself, if you’re just running yourself into the ground, the business can’t possibly survive.”
10. “Murphy’s Law is true. When it comes to launching an online business it will take longer than you think, cost more than you think and will be harder than you think. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Having been privy to the stories of how so many exceptional business owners got started and how they kept going in the face of hardship, stress, debt, litigation and other slings and arrows, the one trait they all shared was this: ‘fearlessness’. I don’t know if you can learn to develop that trait but the first online entrepreneur who can find a way to bottle that will have the world on their doorstep.