Do you want to start an online business?
And not just any business, but a profitable business that lets you quit your 9-5 this year.
But not sure what type of business (coaching, e-commerce, online courses, or something else) or where to start?
You’ve come to the right place. Today, you’ll learn step-by-step how to build a successful online business.
Let’s dive right in.
How to start an online business from scratch
You might think that in order to start a business, you need to come up with some crazy innovative and disruptive idea, like Amazon or Facebook.
But there’s a better way. And this is it:
The steps you need to take to start your own business
You know, building a business like Amazon or Facebook would take an enormous amount of luck, not to mention money.
An online business can be much simpler than that. In fact, it can be something you start up in the next few days AND something you can profit from quickly – using the skills you have now.
The steps you need to take are:
We’ll look at these steps here below (or you can click on the links to view each chapter). But before that, you might be curious to know what an online business can look like. Here’s how I grew several different six- and seven-figure online businesses and what I learned from them.
How I built several online businesses (and the lessons I learned)
Today, I help ambitious men and women go from employee to entrepreneur. Hundreds of people have taken my material, applied it, and started their own businesses.
But before all this, I spent a good number of years learning the ins and outs of building an online business thanks to my past ventures.
How I ended up starting my online business
First, there was the tutoring company that I grew to six figures. Then, there was the payments startup that I co-founded in 2010. It reached a multimillion-dollar valuation before we shut it down and I went back to working a full-time managerial job at an ads tech startup.
But then, in 2014, my family suddenly had to deal with several life-threatening emergencies.
That’s when I realized just how limiting my corporate job was, even if it earned me a good, six-figure salary.
After all, I couldn’t be with my family when they needed me the most.
From my previous businesses I knew that I wanted to start a business that would be profitable, have low overhead, and be something I could scale.
And so I decided to start an online business.
My first attempt: Excel consulting
My first attempt was an Excel consulting business.
I knew there were several Excel businesses that made six or even seven figures. And I knew I was good at it, so I thought it was the perfect match, an “easy business.”
Wrong! After about a month, I had to admit to myself that I wouldn’t find the motivation to work on my business.
Excel spreadsheets weren’t exactly the most inspiring part of my day job, so why would I want to work with them in my business?
Besides, there are no “easy businesses” (they all take work).
I scrapped that idea and moved on to the next.
My second attempt: Career coaching
My second attempt?
I had noticed that people frequently asked me for career advice. So I got in touch with some of them and asked them if they wanted to work together.
Two out of five said yes. I was finally in business!
But there was one problem. I quickly realized I was good at giving career advice… But I hated it.
So, again, I stopped working on that idea and looked around for the next one.
My third attempt: Facebook ads consulting
After my two failed attempts, I was clueless about what to do next.
Did I have any other skills I could sell as a service…?
Fortunately, I happened to come across a Facebook group for entrepreneurs.
And while scrolling through the posts, it hit me just how many entrepreneurs were looking for help with Facebook ads.
As it happened, I spent my days at my 9-5 analyzing Facebook ad campaigns and optimizing them.
So I buckled down – again.
And this time it worked. Within four months, I had earned over six figures from consulting and could finally leave my day job.
Since then, I’ve built this business, a multiple seven-figure coaching and digital information product business.
Here below, I’ll show you the exact steps you need to take to start your own online business.
How to start an online business while working a day job
Want to leave your day 9-5… today?
Don’t hand in your notice just yet.
You see, a mistake I see a lot of new entrepreneurs make is to quit their day job too fast.
Here’s the thing:
Running a business from a place of stress and frustration won’t get you anywhere great.
Instead, start your business from home but don’t hand in your resignation until you’ve doubled your salary. Why? Because you don’t want to take on the wrong clients or make bad decisions out of desperation.
If you double your salary, you’ll have money to spend on business costs and your taxes.
Schedule your tasks
Wondering how to make your side business and 9-5 work at the same time?
Here’s what I did to work on my business while in a demanding managerial job:
I scheduled everything.
You don’t need hours and hours every day to work on your business.
But you do need to be strategic about your time. That’s what will help you quit your job faster without staying up until 2 AM every day.
And that’s what scheduling will help you with. I used my lunch breaks, evenings… And thanks to having pre-scheduled all my tasks, I never had to put any energy on figuring out what task I needed to be working on next.
Now that you know what an online business can look like, let’s get you started.
Want to figure out your business idea? That’s what we’ll look at next.
How to come up with an online business idea that will work
One of the biggest roadblocks for new entrepreneurs?
Finding a business idea.
Because let’s face it: You don’t want to spend years working on a business model or idea that won’t work out.
So, let’s look at what type of business you should start and how to come up with a business idea you know will work from Day 1.
What type of business should you start?
Can you start an online business with no experience?
You bet. Here below you’ll learn how.
First, you need to choose what type of business you should start.
Let’s look at each of them and their pros and cons:
As an ecommerce store owner, you sell goods directly to consumers. Another option is to start a drop shipping company and act as the middleman.
The problem with ecommerce stores is that they often require a lot of time to source products, as well as high startup costs (you need an inventory). Plus, it takes time to get enough clients to make your store profitable. If you factor in things like shipping and taxes, your profit margins aren’t that high.
Let’s say your product costs $50 and your profit margin is $20. You need to make 50 sales to get to $1000.
Affiliate marketing is another option. With this business model, you refer people to other businesses and get a commission on your referrals.
Sounds great, right? Passive income at its finest.
Not so fast! To make affiliate marketing sustainable (you only get a few percentages of each sale), you’ll need a lot of traffic. And that takes time to build.
Next up? Blogging. As a blogger, you usually make money from ads, sponsored content, or affiliate deals.
As with affiliate marketing, you’ll need a lot of traffic before you ever see even the slightest profit. Both blogging and affiliate marketing are business models that could take you years to build.
Freelancing, selling a service, is a way better option. Why? Because you can get started right away by selling a skill you already have. For example, graphic design, writing, or admin.
But there’s one problem: As a freelancer, you sell your time. You’re like an employee, but with a lot of different bosses. Still, it can be a good place to start if you want to start earning an income from your business as fast as possible.
Coaching and consulting
I’m a huge fan of coaching and consulting. It’s how I got started and was able to quit my job within months.
You can get started right away with a skill you already have. And because coaches and consultants have a higher perceived value than freelancers, you can charge more on an hourly basis. A new freelancer might charge $50/hour for their time, while a coach or a consultant can ask for $100 or more.
Plus, because your rates are high (we’re talking four figures for one package), you only need a few clients to become profitable.
Digital courses are a great way to scale your coaching or consulting business. Again, you’re selling something you already know, but you’re doing it in a more hands-off, automated way. And if you do this as a continuation of your coaching offer, you know you have an audience who is happy to pay higher prices for your self-study courses.
What idea should you choose?
As you can see, the easiest business to start right now is a service business like coaching and consulting.
Not only that. You will also be able to start off at a higher price. For example, I often recommend my clients to get started with a $1500 3-month package.
That’s why, in the following, I’ll focus on how you can find the perfect service business idea. And in the last chapter, you’ll learn how to turn your idea into a scalable digital course.
Start with what you know
You might think that you need to have some specialized skill to get started as a coach or consultant.
In fact, your online business can be much simpler than that.
Instead of learning a new skill (which could take you years), you can start with what you know.
Just like I did, when I first started my Facebook ads business.
(And my Excel and career coaching businesses.)
Need a few examples?
Some ideas my clients have come up with are:
- Relationship coaching
- Career coaching
- Marketing and sales consulting
- Mindset coaching
- Health coaching
- Brand consulting
- Spiritual coaching
- Video coaching
- Stress/productivity coaching
How to find your idea
How did I come up with my business ideas? I looked at a few things:
What skills had I learned in my 9-5? And what did people frequently ask me about?
You can use this to figure out your own skills.
Make a list of all the skills you’ve learned in your career.
Then, look at things you get questions about all the time.
Maybe it’s your nutrition, your amazing singing voice, or your public speaking skills.
And finally, look at your hobbies and interests. What skills have you learned on the side?
If you want more business ideas, you can find 121 of them here.
Don’t start a business based on your ‘passion’
I recommend you start with something you know instead of something you’re passionate about.
Why? Because if you go for something you’re passionate about but don’t have experience in, it’ll take you a long time to get to a point where your clients will trust you with their business.
Instead, start with something you know. You’ll be able to build your business much faster.
How to know if your idea will be profitable
Before you jump in and start working on your idea, you’ll want to make sure it’s a profitable idea.
I strongly recommend you do this. My Excel consulting business partly failed because of this:
I hadn’t taken the time to figure out who my customers were and so I didn’t know how to talk to them or what to offer them.
To start a business, you need to look at things from your clients’ perspective.
What do THEY want?
No matter how passionate you are about your business, people won’t buy unless it’s something they know they want.
Not only that, but your client’s ability to pay is equally important.
If your clients don’t have the money to pay for your services, you won’t get far.
And that’s how you come up with your idea.
- Use a skill you already have.
- See if it’s something people want to and can pay for.
How to grow your online business.
How to get clients and grow your business (step-by-step)
Now you have your idea and the answer to the question “Should I start an online business?” is hopefully yes. But how do you turn your idea into a business?
Your winning pricing structure
The first thing you need to figure out is your pricing.
One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of starting an online coaching or consulting business is because you can charge higher prices and a big chunk of that money is profit.
That’s why I prefer this business model to, say, ecommerce.
As a coach, you only need to sell 5 packages at $2000 to earn $10,000. With an ecommerce store (assuming you sell a product that costs $200), you would need to sell 50 products to hit that same revenue. And your profit margins would be considerably lower because you have to pay for your products, shipping, and more.
But what will your pricing look like as a coach?
My first offer
Take me as an example.
When I first started my digital advertising business, I didn’t know how to price my services.
My first client ended up paying me $5000 for a 6-month package (I based this price on my salary at the time).
She was willing to do so because I had already shown her my value by helping her for free.
But then I hit a wall. People repeatedly said I was too expensive.
And so I had to go back to the drawing board.
Get some social proof first
What did I realize? That in order to scale my business faster (and not be stuck in giving every person the same level of attention I had given my first client), I needed to get more social proof.
And that was best done by lowering my prices for the first few clients.
So I went down to $1500 for a 3-month package. As a result, I quickly picked up a few more clients, went back to my normal rates, and grew it from there.
I frequently recommend my clients to start at this price point, $1500 for a 3-month package, for the same reason.
You’ll pick up clients faster and that way, you’re able to raise your rates faster.
The fastest way to get clients
When I first started my career coaching business, I was working with a copywriter.
I happened to ask her where she got her clients. She said: Facebook.
That stuck with me. And after I joined a Facebook group for entrepreneurs, I quickly realized that I could grow my Facebook ads business with the help of that group.
In fact, thanks to the relationships I built in Facebook groups, I eventually sold $106,000 worth of coaching in four months.
Does it mean YOU should market your business in Facebook groups?
Not necessarily. Instead, think about where your clients hang out.
Are they on LinkedIn? Or Reddit? Or Instagram?
For example, my clients Cristina, a stress coach, and Anna, a career coach, found their first clients on LinkedIn.
Renée, who is a brand consultant, found her first client on Facebook.
Emily, a career coach, found her first clients on Linkedin, and later, she started getting clients from Pinterest.
Ruby, a relationship coach, got her first client on Reddit.
And Cristina, a naturopathic doctor, got one of her first clients on Instagram.
The reason social media works is that it’s all about connecting with other people.
It’s a lesson I learned early on:
Instead of going on social media with the intention to get clients, you’ll want to use it to give value.
And not just facts and figures, but to show yourself as a human.
Entertain people by telling them stories and share fun content because that’s how you’ll catch their attention.
Finally, in order to build those relationships on social media, you need to be consistent.
Show up for even 30 minutes a day to give value, answer questions, and be helpful. This will keep you top of mind for your clients.
Want to learn more about building your coaching or consulting business? Read my step-by-step guide here.
Set up a website
Noticed anything specific?
That’s right. We haven’t looked at building a website just yet.
The reason is simple:
I don’t recommend that you to set up a website before you have a few clients.
Instead, start lean and focus on what will bring in most clients right now (social media).
Once you have your clients you can start thinking about your website.
In fact, I made my first $5K after launching my coaching business without a website or even a sales page.
And even up until I had made $20K in my business, I used a standard WordPress theme that cost me $150.
So if you haven’t gotten your first clients yet, focus on your sales first.
Set up your email marketing
As with your website, focus first on your business idea and getting those first clients.
In the long run, you do want to build an email list, though. That’s because with an email list, you build your own audience.
My go-to email list builder for new entrepreneurs is Aweber.
And remember: Because you’ve already built relationships on social media, you’ll have a much easier time building your list than if you’re starting from scratch.
Scaling your business with online courses
The last step? Scaling your business with online courses.
Service businesses are great for getting started, but at some point, you’ll hit an income wall. That’s because you can only offer so much of your time.
Fortunately, online courses help you take your coaching program and sell it to more people without having to work more hours.
Here’s how to create and sell your course.
How I scaled my business to over $1M in 11 months
In 11 months from having started my business, I was able to scale it to over $1 million. How? Thanks to online courses.
You see, after my schedule filled up with coaching clients, I knew I had to find a way to grow my business without adding on more hours.
And that’s what I did. At this point, I had switched from selling Facebook ads coaching to helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses (due to all the messages I received from people asking for my advice).
My first course
My first course, “Your First Paying Clients,” was a short, seven-week course that helped coaches and consultants find their first clients.
After I googled different price points, I noticed that most courses were priced at: $500 or less, $1000, $2000, and more than $2000. I decided to price my course at $497 to make it as easy to sell as possible.
Thanks to a combination of my email list that consisted of 300 subscribers, a Facebook group I started around that time, a 5-day live challenge, and Facebook ads, I sold 16 spots.
But not only that. Because I overdelivered during the 7-week course, I was ultimately able to upsell many of my course participants and add $20,000 to my business.
My second course
For my second launch, I wanted to aim higher – $100,000.
And so I decided to create my signature course, Employee to Entrepreneur, which still today is a comprehensive course where I teach employees how to quickly grow their businesses.
This time, I priced my course at $3000. Again, I overdelivered both during my course launch and during the program, and as a result, I hit that $100,000 launch goal.
Using all the principles I had learned from my two previous launches, I set a very ambitious goal for my third launch. $1 million.
This time, I used a significant amount of money on Facebook ads ($80,000), strategized a three-level launch (which consisted of a pre-launch, live challenge, and launch), and added webinars to the mix.
The result? An $800,000 launch.
As you can see, online courses can be a great way to scale your business without having to take on more coaching or consulting work.
Now, let’s look at how you can use this in your business.
What course should you create?
Yet another reason to love coaching! When you’ve worked with even 1-2 people on a one-on-one basis, you know exactly what type of help they need.
And that will help you turn your coaching program into a course.
Now, if you’re unsure if your coaching or consulting service can be turned into a course, there’s an easy answer.
Plus, by working closely with someone, you quickly help them get results. And those results will act as social proof for people who are thinking about joining your course.
It can. People have already paid you for your coaching, so you know they want the results your help will get them.
Take my client Estelle. She was able to turn a highly personalized service, energy healing, and create a course that people love.
And she’s not the only one.
There are tons of niche courses that sell very well.
For example, one of my clients sells a course that helps people use herbs to lose weight.
Other online courses out there include courses that teach you how to build and live in tiny homes, brush lettering with watercolor, how to find dream orchestra jobs, astrology, how to learn a language in three months, and how to travel with flight points. And these are just a few examples.
Your online course strategy
You don’t need a lot to get started selling your course.
I recommend that you start an email list so that you have your own audience of people who follow you closely.
But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a massive email list to get started.
In fact, with even 500 subscribers and normal email list conversion rates (1-3% of your subscribers), you can get your first 5-15 course participants.
Just like with my first course, I recommend that you get started with a lower priced course ($500 or less) and grow it from there.
How to grow your course sales
Once you’ve sold your first course and you know it works, you can take that, the results your course participants have gotten, and turn it into a signature course.
Selling your signature course
To start out, I always recommend my clients to use live webinars to sell their courses.
Why live webinars? Because at this point, you don’t want to sell your course one-by-one. Instead, you want to have a system in place that allows you to sell to more people at once.
And that’s exactly what a webinar helps you do.
As mentioned, I used these in my early days. And even today, I use webinars to sell my course.
How to go evergreen
When you have a tried and tested course you KNOW will sell, it’s time to go evergreen.
What this means is that you sell your course on automation. You could have Facebook ads leading traffic to it or other traffic sources coming in (read my 24 best marketing strategies here to learn how to get that traffic).
And these systems will eventually allow you to create an online business with all the flexibility and freedom you want.
Want to start an online business, grow it, and quit your 9-5?
Want to take what you’ve learned and launch your online business?
I want to make this as easy as possible for you. That’s why I’m showing you my entire system for how to go from your 9-5 to a successful business.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- My exact system for building an online business and replacing your salary BEFORE leaving your 9-5.
- The exact content you should share on social media that will make people crave your offer and land your first clients. (And the exact content I used to get my first clients!)
- How to grow your hugely profitable and meaningful business in the most strategic way.
Want to go from no idea to online business owner?
Get your free spot at my masterclass, “Employee to Entrepreneur”:
This free training will show you my exact system for building a coaching business and replacing your salary BEFORE leaving the 9-5.