The Best Advice I Could Give A Newbie (Or Anyone Trying To Make Money Online, For That Matter)

30 replies
Hey All,


I want to take a few minutes to talk about a subject that arguably could be the single most important component to a successful career online.

It's so important that, without this piece of the puzzle, we stand almost no chance whatsoever of sustained success, and, in most instances, we'll never even get our careers off the ground, never mind have anything to sustain.

Now, you'd think that something this critically important would be talked about constantly or brought up almost every time a newbie reaches out for advice on getting started online, but, strangely enough, it's rarely even mentioned.

Sure, it's casually thrown into conversations from time to time. I mean, we've all at least heard it said once or twice before. But it certainly doesn't get the notoriety it truly deserves. And that fact is leaving countless would be marketers struggling to make their first dollar, let alone generate massive success.

The missing piece?

A Written Business Plan

A written business plan isn't just a nice suggestion that might help improve results and increase profit margins. It's a critical component to building a lasting, continuously growing business that will be here not just tomorrow, but five and ten years from now as well. Our long-term success depends on it.

Now, I'm just as guilty as anyone else for not grasping this concept immediately. I approached 'making money online' like I needed to just find something to sell and get people to buy it.

My only plan was - find ways to make money online and do it.

Care to guess how that worked out for me?

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you're in the exact same position I was in when I started out. You've heard that people are making millions online and you want your piece of the pie too. How hard can it be? Just set aside some time, learn what everyone else is doing and take action. That's all there is to it, right?

Not quite...

You see, the truth is, and I'm borrowing the phrase from Winston Churchill -
"He who fails to plan is planning to fail."

When you hear it said like that, it really hits home. Either we're planning out the direction of our business or, by not doing so, we're wasting time prolonging the inevitable result that is almost certain to come, barring some serendipitous stroke of luck, which is - failure.

None of us want that. We don't want the day to come where we finally say, you know what, this just isn't for me. I've tried everything and nothing seems to work. I gave it my best shot but, in the end, it just wasn't good enough.

And then to have to face all of the people who thought we were nuts in the first place for even trying something like this. We all know who I'm referring to. Some of us know more of these types than others do, those planting the seeds of doubt, raining on our parade because they have no parade of their own. Telling us we're crazy - what are we thinking - it'll never work - just get a 'real' job - and on and on it goes.

Ughh, to have to listen to that would make my stomach turn inside out.

We don't want that to be our fate and it definitely doesn't have to be.

The solution is - stop what we're doing. Stop trying to make a few bucks first. Stop putting it off until a more convenient time - stop deceiving ourselves.

We need a plan and we need one now.

A plan tells us where we're going and how we're getting there. It let's us know when we're off track and what we have to do to change direction and get back on track. It's our ever-present road map to our ultimate goal.

You wouldn't hop in a boat and say let's cross the ocean. Hey, I know how to steer a boat and I've got plenty of food for the trip. I'll figure it out along the way. Without charting your course beforehand, you'd end up dead in the water, literally.

If you were building a house and you'd never done it before, you wouldn't grab a bunch of wood, pick up all the tools you need and then just start hammering nails and hope for the best. Whatever 'structure' you ended up with would come crashing down on you the second the wind picked up. You'd be left with nothing.

Building a business is exactly the same thing.

So what do you do? How do you create a plan to get you where you want to go when you've never been there before?

You decide what you want your business to look like when it's running just the way you'd draw it up and then you create a plan for getting there.

Work backwards from the endpoint.

For example:

If the endpoint is building a massively successful life-coaching business, what does that look like when it's operating at its peak?

How many clients do you have?
How do you offer your services?
How often do you meet with each client?
What type of staffing do you have?
How do you bring in new business?
What do you know how to do now and what do you need to learn to be able to be the coach your clients need?
What will it take for all of these things to come to fruition?
In what order will you be putting these things into play?

These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked before you go about putting your plan together.

Now imagine you decide not to bother with the plan. How do you think you'll stack up against your competition? If you were a prospective client, who would you rather go with - the business that planned these things out ahead of time or the one that used the old 'wing-it' model?

I know who I'd choose.

So, if we haven't done so already, let's take a step back from whatever we're doing and really think about the direction we're headed in. Do we have a solid plan that we've committed to paper and are following every day or are we just hoping it all comes together on its own?

It may seem like a lot of work and we may be tempted to put it off until we've got some good money coming in, but I promise you this - it's a lot more work working without a plan than with one.

I hope this message serves you well and I wish you all the success in the world.

Have an amazing day and happy building!!!





#advice #building a business #business plan #make money online #newbie
  • Profile picture of the author madaffiliatemoney
    Hey, just wanted to say great post. I was in the exact same boat when i first started several years ago. It wasn't until I actually wrote down some goals and what I had to do to get there that I started making any profits.

    Best of luck,
    Justin
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason_Lewis
      I hear ya. It took me a little longer than I had planned to get my act together...
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  • Profile picture of the author ObsidianKnight
    Jason,

    Wonderful post. You are absolutely right that this step is so often missed with many beginners. In truth, this goes for just about any aspect of life in which a person wishes to advance and excel.

    Whether your in business or training to run a marathon, you have to takes steps along the way. A plan or roadmap lets you track your progress and adjust as needed.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Hi Jason,

    Great post!

    Two things.

    1. It's not a plan until it's written down. I know that's exactly what you're talking about, but I wanted to emphasize it for the people who think that saying to themselves "I want to make money online" somehow qualifies as a plan.

    2. It can be a very simple plan, especially at first. In other words, don't let the idea of writing a plan scare you away. There's a lot we don't know when starting out, and things that only experience can teach us. Therefore, I think the best business plans are those that are flexible enough to allow for this growth of knowledge.

    That's my take on it.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author Nancy Radlinger
      Excellent, Excellent I sure with all newbies out there could read this - thanks for sharing
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason_Lewis
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      Hi Jason,

      Great post!

      Two things.

      1. It's not a plan until it's written down. I know that's exactly what you're talking about, but I wanted to emphasize it for the people who think that saying to themselves "I want to make money online" somehow qualifies as a plan.

      2. It can be a very simple plan, especially at first. In other words, don't let the idea of writing a plan scare you away. There's a lot we don't know when starting out, and things that only experience can teach us. Therefore, I think the best business plans are those that are flexible enough to allow for this growth of knowledge.

      That's my take on it.

      All the best,
      Michael

      "don't let the idea of writing a plan scare you away"

      It's so easy to do this. It's exactly what I let myself do when I got started.

      Sub-consciously, I thought, "Write a business plan? That sounds like a lot of hard work. Let me feed my conscious mind a ton of perfectly legitimate-sounding excuses why I don't have to do that right now."

      And you know what's weird? The right time just never seemed to come around. Hmmph, imagine that...

      But what I did have going for me, what everyone needs in their original plan, no matter how simple it is when they start, is...

      A learning plan

      Philosopher/Author, Eric Hoffer, famously said,

      "“In times of change learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to work in a world that no longer exists.”

      I started out just reading anything I could get my hands on. That's okay, but what I learned was - strategically planning my learning had a much greater effect on my productivity. I determined what the most critical thing to learn was and studied that and only that until I was ready to move on to the next most critical thing.

      Because I had that plan, I realized that running a business was a key component to what I was doing, so I started to study how to do that effectively.

      It turned out that everyone said the same thing - you must have a plan.

      That's when it finally sunk in for me. So I developed one, rough as it may have been, and then continued to refine it as my knowledge increased.

      Everything changed for me when that happened.

      Great points, Michael.
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      • Profile picture of the author jan roos
        Great Post Jason!

        When I got a white board and planned my business and daily routines on it my business took off because every day I would walk by the board and read what I had to do. It was nothing fancy and could of been done much better but it worked and it showed me the importance of planning my business out in writing.

        Cheers for sharing.

        Jan
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      • Originally Posted by Jason_Lewis View Post

        I started out just reading anything I could get my hands on. That's okay, but what I learned was - strategically planning my learning had a much greater effect on my productivity.
        Awesome post Jason, thank you so much for sharing this. What you say about reading anything is so true and can lead to procrastination and inaction when you first start because your SCARED. I felt that I had to know and learn everything but the trouble was I wasn't actually DOING anything!

        Information is ok but is only useful if you turn it into knowledge and wisdom with action. That's why, as you say, it is so important to have a plan first, then target the knowledge you require to implement that plan and then take action based on the knowledge you gain.

        Thank you once again... a really enlightening thread
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        • Profile picture of the author netkid
          Excellent advice!

          To add to all posts here, I would add:

          1) Get a white board and slap it on your wall right now. Use a black eraseable marker. You need to make a simple grid of goals, things to do, and completed date. That really got me going and productive and when the "completed date" column got checked, well that was very satisfying that I am actually "doing it!"

          2) Second, I got a scratch pad and pen near my computer at all times. I took notes when a "light bulb" moment came to me and put it on paper to implement that tip that day.

          3) Third, I did not involve myself in more than 2 projects at the same time. How many of us get caught up in doing 5 IM projects or more at once, never to finish any of them?

          Actually, I have a second white board that has my only two projects with a grid line between them. I keep track and updates on both projects. Much more manageable that way. This only applies if you are a "one man band" at the moment.
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason_Lewis
            Originally Posted by netkid View Post

            Excellent advice!

            To add to all posts here, I would add:

            1) Get a white board and slap it on your wall right now. Use a black eraseable marker. You need to make a simple grid of goals, things to do, and completed date. That really got me going and productive and when the "completed date" column got checked, well that was very satisfying that I am actually "doing it!"

            2) Second, I got a scratch pad and pen near my computer at all times. I took notes when a "light bulb" moment came to me and put it on paper to implement that tip that day.

            3) Third, I did not involve myself in more than 2 projects at the same time. How many of us get caught up in doing 5 IM projects or more at once, never to finish any of them?

            Actually, I have a second white board that has my only two projects with a grid line between them. I keep track and updates on both projects. Much more manageable that way. This only applies if you are a "one man band" at the moment.

            I've been guilty of having my hand in too many things at once. I think many of us have. Trying to be a jack of all trades instead of a master of one - And it doesn't work.

            Great points, NK...
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          • Profile picture of the author ObsidianKnight
            Originally Posted by netkid View Post

            Excellent advice!

            To add to all posts here, I would add:

            3) Third, I did not involve myself in more than 2 projects at the same time. How many of us get caught up in doing 5 IM projects or more at once, never to finish any of them?

            Actually, I have a second white board that has my only two projects with a grid line between them. I keep track and updates on both projects. Much more manageable that way. This only applies if you are a "one man band" at the moment.
            NetKid,

            You make an excellent point as well. I know wen I first started out, trying to handle too many projects at once was a big problem for me. It is very easy to become distracted and overwhelmed when your new.

            Having a plan and then having an efficient manner to manage it will definately make the process a lot easier and faster in most cases.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    Great observations, Jason. I think too many of us approach IM initially with an "ad hoc" mentality where we literally piece the IM puzzle together on the fly, without any concrete or defined plans.

    This is really detrimental to our progress because as we all know, IM is a vast and complex arena with many traps and detours that can sidetrack us on our journey. Without a plan it's so easy to squander away hours on the computer just doing "research" or some other activities which aren't productive for our business. It'd be analogous to being out at sea, without a defined path and being buffeted every way possible by the way the waves hitting us, with a very real danger of going off course and even backwards since we don't have any clear direction.

    It'd be best to write our plans down from the very start, and they don't have to be grandiose in nature initially. They just have to be clear and measurable, and preferably broken down into simple steps so that we can stick to the plan more easily.

    It doesn't mean that these plans are set in stone, though. Sometimes you have to make course corrections and amendments, and there's nothing wrong with modifying it as needed since business (especially IM) is after all very fluid and dynamic.
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  • Profile picture of the author LynnLewis
    I don't know how I could have forgotten to do this, I know better. I have some written short term goals for my internet business, but that's not the same as a business plan.

    Maybe subconsciously, I wasn't taking it seriously; influenced by my offline friends who think of it as my latest whim.

    Thanks for this post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Griffon
    Hi,

    Great advice, especially in this business where the flavor of the minute, "turnkey profit solution" and avalanche of conflicting information routinely threaten to confuse anyone starting out.

    Never written a business plan? No worries, here is a link to a biz plan book I bought that
    has helped....no, it's not an affiliate link. I'd never written a business plan and didn't have an MBA, so this book really covers the topic from A to Z. You may not need all of it, but just take what you need and leave the rest.

    Best of Luck,
    Neal
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  • Profile picture of the author entrepreneurjay
    Good post and well said. An online business is no different than a traditional offline brick and mortar business. You need a game plan for your business to succeed a to do list that can be followed on a daily basis so you start seeing growth in revenue.
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  • Profile picture of the author lilphilupt
    excellent post dude!

    this is really straight to the point and true info any newbies looking at this, really listen to what this guy is saying
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  • Profile picture of the author ObsidianKnight
    Of course, having a written plan only helps if you keep it handy and refer back to it from time to time.

    I can't tell you how many times I have seen people write down a plan, only to lose track of it. Even guilty of it myself years ago. Now I keep notebooks full of my daily routines, projects and plans.

    It has made a considderable difference.

    Derek
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  • Profile picture of the author Jerryl
    Damn, when I got done reading that I really wanted to buy whatever you were selling...but you weren't selling nothing!! LOL Just good advice!
    Thanks
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    • Profile picture of the author All Night Cafe
      I really think you open up a lot of minds.

      You laid this out so easy to understand. Talking
      too some many people at seminars, we always
      get the idea of a plan.

      Most don't understand the importance of this.

      It is your roadmap in the beginning of what
      to do next.

      We hear people say,,, what do I do now.

      Sit down and set up your plan, you have to know
      what you want when you turn your computer on.

      Great post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason_Lewis
    I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all of the kind words.

    I hope every newbie on the forum gets a chance to read this thread. I know that I wish I would have caught on to the importance of a plan a lot sooner then I did and there are certainly a number of people out there right now in the exact same position today.

    What an impact it'll make in the businesses of those that do...
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  • Profile picture of the author Nora8197
    Thank you. After years of hit and miss, I just sat down and took a week to just write a business plan. Depressing, really because I had to look at money I spent, money I will have to spend and money I did not make. But I now know where I want to be in the next 3-6-12 months, my niches, target audience, etc. and target dates to revisit. Wish me luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hydroxide
    Hey, thanks for this useful post. Starting out as a newbie, I'm always doing that jumping into things you mentioned. In fact I really never drew any plan myself (despite telling people to do so in my articles on ezine)
    I think I should really devise one. Thanks mate!
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Rodney
    Great article and I couldn’t agree more. People don’t realize that successful people are not successful by accident. They follow certain rules and that is why they are successful. Success happens in the head first and then you will do whatever it takes to make it a reality.
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    • Profile picture of the author KevinTorrence
      Oh man, this is something I'm guilty of not doing. I think that's pretty common with many of us that are unfamiliar with all the ins and outs of running a business and tend to "caveman club" their way through life.

      When it comes to woodworking or building projects around home, I can envision the whole thing in my mind, I can imagine where all the screws go, what sizes everything needs to be, what order I'm gonna cut, assemble, and paint each part, etc. It comes to me naturally and then I write it all down, make a few sketches and build away!

      But when it comes to carrying out a business plan, there seems to be lots of uncertainty & second guessing as well as a million shiny objects to get in the way. That makes it pretty easy to doubt yourself & not be sure which direction to go. So you don't really know what your business plan is gonna be in to begin with.

      So sometimes, (at least for me) ... it makes sense to sorta toss up some ideas, get them going, and get a feel for what's working and how I did it. From that, I can develop a business plan to follow through with all my future activites. Sure, I guess that's the school of hard knocks way of doing things, but sometimes you gotta do whatever's working for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Classic Car
    You are 100% correct! My first company I started out I had a great income at first, but I had no plan, and needless to say, it eventually fadded away to nothing. The second company I started, I bought a small exisiting company, I had a business plan from the start, Incorporated it, added to it and made it grow, and did everything by the book. I recently sold it for twice what I paid for it. I learned from my mistake. Hopefully everyone here can do the same. Just my $.02.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anthony W
    Wow, excellent post! Any tips on making an IM business plan?

    I started working on one. Things I included were

    - income goals
    - traffic goals
    - conversion goals
    - list goals
    - very detailed action steps for the next 2 months

    Anything else?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason_Lewis
      Originally Posted by Tony W View Post

      Wow, excellent post! Any tips on making an IM business plan?

      I started working on one. Things I included were

      - income goals
      - traffic goals
      - conversion goals
      - list goals
      - very detailed action steps for the next 2 months

      Anything else?

      Hey Tony,

      What you've done so far is great. It's already more than most will commit to doing. I commend you for taking action and getting the ball rolling. Great things are around the corner as long as you continue to learn.

      Here are a few suggestions to help you fine tune your plan. But first, let me warn you, I got overwhelmed when I learned some of these things and you may find yourself feeling the same way. It's important to realize that we only feel that way because we're being stretched to think outside of our comfort zone. If you never feel overwhelmed, you aren't growing. It's perfectly normal and, as long as you manage your thoughts and emotions and realize this is a marathon, not a sprint, you'll handle it brilliantly...

      Here it is -

      Most of us don't have a lot of experience with goal setting, (I had none at all when I started) so when we hear it said that we should set goals - we tend to not fully grasp the concept at the level it's intended.

      We think to ourselves - set goals, okay, I'll do that. What goals can I set? - and then we sit down and do what makes sense to us - we create income goals, traffic goals, list size goals, ect.

      And while these are all necessary goals to set, they aren't the most important goals to set first.

      Let's use the house analogy.

      If we were going to build a house, the first thing we would do is decide what style house we wanted and where we wanted to build it.

      Do we want a 4500 sf, two story, 4 bedroom, 3 bath Colonial with an attached 3 car garage and a game-room above it, sitting on 3 acres of land, 2 miles from the ocean...or...Do we want a 3300 sf, 3 bedroom, 3 bath Cape, with a 2-car garage and a wrap-around porch, sitting on 20 acres out in the country somewhere?

      In other words - what does the framework look like?

      What type of windows it has, what color paint you'll use on the walls or what flooring you're going to put in each room are all important decisions and need careful consideration, but they aren't the foundation, or framework, for the home. They're the accessories.

      We'll fill those in as we go, but to start, we need to build a framework and then work our way in from there.

      Now how do you apply this to your specific business?

      First, identify what type of business you're in (location). In other words - your products or services are designed (or will be designed) to serve whom?

      Next, determine how big you'd like the company to be when it's running at its peak (style). Will this be a one man show or will you eventually need to bring in employees to help grow the business? In what format would you like to provide your products or services - audios, videos, books, one on one coaching, seminars, ect.?

      Let's imagine for a moment, that you were in the music market. You've done the above mentioned steps and have these specific goals set -

      • You've decided that you're going to set up shop in the 'beginner guitar lessons' niche.
      • You're going to eventually be a two-person operation - You and your assistant, who'll be in charge of answering emails, keeping the books straight, ect.
      • The products you will offer are - a free video series teaching them how to properly train their fingers to navigate the neck of the guitar - 2 month's worth of killer video lessons for $19.99 - A monthly subscription to your intermediate guitar lesson site, full of new lessons as well as archived ones, for $39.99/mth - advanced skills lessons, including direct access to you for questions/help, ect, for $97/mth.
      With these goals in place, you can now move on to 'how to make this happen.'

      - When will my first product be complete?
      - How will I market my services, meaning, what will my sales funnel look like? What format (video marketing, article marketing, ect.) will I use to capture their email address, when will I ask them to buy, when will I offer the next product, ect.?
      - What do I need to learn to be able to create these products and ensure that they're high-quality?
      - How much time per day will I devote to learning?
      - How much for creating the products themselves?

      Once the free report is created and you have the first product ready to go, now it's time to set goals for list building, traffic, income, ect.

      Without the original framework, the foundation for your business, the list building, traffic, income goals have no substance and won't lead to great results.

      Work from the outside in and break each section down as you go.

      You'll find that once you get used to it, it's very easy. You'll either know exactly what to do or you'll know how to find the answers quickly.

      Also, as Michael was kind enough to mention in his post, make sure that your goals are flexible. You're just beginning. You can't possibly have all of the answers now. As you acquire more knowledge, you'll make adjustments where need be.

      The hardest part is deciding to learn what the right way to build a business is and then committing yourself to doing it.

      You've already done the first part, if you decide to do the second - you'll be wildly successful.

      I wish you the best and feel free to check back in and let me know how you're making out.

      Good luck, Tony!
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  • Profile picture of the author sbraill
    Thanks Jason for this post. You are dead on about the business plan. I have been bouncing all over the place learning this thing called "IM". The other night I had an epiphany, and by the end of the night I had a business plan in place. I had bits and pieces of a plan but it was very disorganized. I just put it all together on paper and it all started to make sense. The past few days have been much more productive as I am following "The Plan".
    Writing it all down is key to getting your plan together. It took me a while but I finally figured it out. Now, on to a profitable solid business in 2011!!
    Thanks,
    Sher
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  • Profile picture of the author JustinDupre
    Awesome post! I started working on my business plan not too long ago and I'm glad I found this discussion here. Not only business plan will connect all the dots together but it actually will help you have a clear set of goals and better idea to grow your online business.
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  • Profile picture of the author sierraandmo
    Excellent posts! Even people that aren't newbies have something to learn in this thread.
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