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I'm often asked about how I started as an entrepreneur, and I normally say it's easy. I say this to be encouraging — the idea of starting an online business scares a lot of cash-strapped entrepreneurs, who tend to believe you need to be loaded to start out.
I disagree. It can be more difficult if you don't have a fortune to invest with, but you can still build a successful business by using proven processes and routines. Here are four essentials of starting an online startup from scratch today:
1. Find one problem and solve it more thoroughly than anyone else.
What will my company be known for? That's where I normally begin. I don't want to start like others; I want to start with specificity.
When people ask me how to do this, my answer is simple: Find a specific problem and know all you can about it. Become obsessed with that one problem, because there are already people solving it with their brands. That's why you need to find an angle that will help you solve the problem in a new, better way.
No matter how competitive your niche is, there are still little cracks here and there where newcomers can sprout up.
Locate those gaps.
To do that, you need to follow the news. Personally, I follow The Hustle, but Google Trends is also a good way to find new products, news and startups.
2. Start with what you currently have.
For entrepreneurs in 2017, money shouldn't be an excuse.
Even if you only have a little to start with, you can still build your investment into something more substantial.
First, brainstorm a name for the business. Then, find someone who will create a professional logo for cheap — or, better, create something for yourself.
If your solution requires a lot of functionality, then strike a deal with a pro to design and bring the idea to live. If it just needs to look professional but doesn't need a lot of technical extras, then you can create it using a build-it-yourself platform. This will save thousands of dollars.
To further cut cost, use Retrace, not New Relic, for SaaS based applications – the lower the cost, the better.
Then, get a domain name for the site from Godaddy and host the site at Hostsailor for cheap.
Once the site is online, set up a workstation — probably I will work from home. All you need is a good internet connection.
3. Develop and follow systematic routines.
After the site goes online, you need to develop business habits. There are thousands of tips and habits out there, but I recommend following B. J. Fogg's Tiny Habits strategy to come up with a strategy and routine for each normal business processes.
It may be as easy as "I will write one article after I start today's work," but every tiny habit matters.
4. Don't do it alone.
Most people think they have to run the startup race alone in order to reach the top, but separating yourself limits you as an entrepreneur.
That's why you should join mastermind groups in your niche to familiarize yourself about the niche and the customers. These people can help share knowledge that will build your online brand and take your business to the next level. That way, you'll not only learn, but you'll stay motivated at all times.