For those of you who attended my SCORE webinar on how to create an affordable online business, first of all, thank you! More than 4,000 people signed up, and that is both amazing and very humbling.
I mentioned in that seminar that my first foray into the online business world changed my life, even though I really had no idea what I was doing back in the beginning.
It worked, though, and I made a decent living, but was I getting rich?
No. But you gotta start somewhere, right?
Most importantly, I learned some tricks that have enabled me to not only start several much more successful online businesses, but to teach literally thousands of people how they can do it too, fairly easily – and without breaking the bank.
But if you think I am here to try and sell you some Get Rich Quick Scheme, you better look elsewhere. That’s not my thing, and frankly, I don’t even think it’s all that possible.
All I want to do here is share with you what is possible, to show you that this entrepreneurship thing is not rocket science. It’s doable. A change in your life, or work, or money situation is a real option.
THAT is what I want to show you. Here. Now.
In this, and in the next few emails, I want to give you a few examples of exactly what you can do, and how you can do it. I want you to see that your dream of starting your own online business just may be closer than you think.
And let me be clear, when I started, getting “rich” per se was not my main goal. Was making good money a goal? Sure, you bet. But more importantly, I just had to get out from under that jerk boss. That was my motivation for breaking out and starting my first business.
For others, it might be
- They want freedom or creativity, or
- The ability to be with the kids more, or
- The opportunity to make more money,
- Or, or, or . . .
I had just started writing what would later become my very popular small business column for USA TODAY. But back then, circa 1998 or so, I was just a dude trying to figure out how to make a buck online at a time when making money online was a very, very new concept.
If you promise not to laugh, I’ll show you one of my first websites, so you can see what a nascent e-pioneer I was back then:
And so I started my first online business – selling content – even though I had no idea whatsoever how to do it. But that didn’t stop me because I was COMMITTED. I had moved to a different state, stopped practicing law, and needed to care for my family.
Failure, I suppose was an option (if I am being perfectly honest), but not a very attractive one.
So I did what I suggested to you that you needed to do during our webinar: Think carefully about what it is you love and then begin to figure out how to build an online business around that.
WHAT KIND OF EASY ONLINE BUSINESS COULD YOU START?
Just for the sake of example, maybe you could
- Start a drop shipping e-commerce store that sells baby clothes, or Hot Wheels, or sneakers?
- Maybe you could sell your art, or hand-thrown mugs, or hand-made prints on eBay or Etsy?
- Maybe you could create an Amazon store that sells $3 million a year? I know someone who did just that and her story is amazing. I will be sharing it with you real soon.
In my case, my brother and I teamed up and began to pitch my column to chambers of commerce and other small non-profit organizations who served small businesses; after all, they seemed like folks who would needed and who buy small business content.
And they were. (Remember these were the days before social sharing, so content was not so easy to find and buy.)
Before long, we had scores of small chambers of commerce buying my content and reprinting it in their own e-newsletters.
Can you guess the problem?
25 chambers and non-profits paying us say, $100 a month, meant we made a whopping
OK, so for a brand new venture in a brand new medium, that was not bad.
But no, not great.
THEN I GOT THE UNEXPECTED EMAIL THAT ROCKED MY WORLD…
I am not prone to hyperbole.
A lawyer by trade, I deal in facts.
And the fact is, around this time I received an email that changed my world, my thinking, and which opened my mind to what was possible (just like, I hope you are noticing, how I am trying to open YOUR MIND TO WHAT IS POSSIBLE in this email 📈).
It turns out, I had been thinking too small.
Way too small.
Are you thinking too small?
If you recall, in my PowerPoint, I had these two slides. I had them in there because they are historically important to me, and I hope will become that to you too.
The email was from a company called eHealth. They wanted to know if I would be interested in teaming up.
All of a sudden, I wasn’t trying to sell content to organizations that literally made no profit (duh!), but instead, I was being given the opportunity to team up with a huge corporation with a huge corporate budget.
To make a long story short, eHealth and I created a site called TheSelfEmployed. It became very popular, and as a result, one of the first online e-commerce tricks I learned was how to attract corporate sponsors:
By 2015, we had eight sponsors, paying us +/- $15,000 a year.
$120,000 a year total.
And then, in 2021, I sold that site for a significant sum.
For a guy who, a couple of years before was selling articles online for $100/mo. that was HUGE!
That all happened because I took a chance, and learned a few easy, online business tricks that transformed my life, and my business.
I tell you all of this, not to impress you, but to impress upon you that change is possible. What one person can do, another can do.
This email is the first in a series of 4. In the next one, I am going to show you how, exactly how, you can attract your own sponsor like eHealth. Then, as a different example, I am going to share how my friend Theo started her Amazon store and started making millions withing a couple of years.
One of the beautiful things about setting up a business online is that it is typically easy and affordable. And so varied – you can set up an e-commerce store. You can sell your expertise. You can hold events. Whatever.
Oh, and did I mention, it’s fun?
It’s really fun!!
But it is only flexible, easy, fun, and affordable if you know how to do it right, avoid expensive mistakes, and do what works. So be on the lookout for the next few emails, because I’m going to show you exactly what works.
Time to stop thinking small, my friends!
2 last, quick notes:
1. So many of you took the time to fill out the survey I mentioned in my last email, and to you I would like to say THANK YOU! Damn if your feedback didn’t make us rethink how we are going to be delivering part of that new product. You made it much better, so again, thanks!
2. I would love to hear your thoughts about what I shared here, answer any questions you have, and chat with you. So we posted this email on my new site Planet Small Business. Please surf on over and share your thoughts as a comment below this email/article.
You already made my new product better, so I bet you can make this email series better too!
I’d love top hear your feedback!
Hi, Steve! 👋🏽
This presentation was much needed for me!!
I am in the process of launching a retail store here in my hometown, Davenport, Iowa.
I’ve been living here almost twenty years now!!
I love it and I want to be apart of servicing our communities!!
So much negativity has happened and is happening not just in and around “ our “ communities but “ Everywhere! “ And although I Cant solve every issue or problem, I sure as heck can do my best to make all those here and around us happy to be apart of our communities!!
I have many creative ideas I want to incorporate in this journey!! However, having an additional “ Online setup “ will help me reach potential customers all across the world 🌎.
I would love to hear much more!!
Thank you so much for your concerns for all of us!!🙏🏽
Blessings, Always 🙏🏽
I enjoyed your presentation and especially your enthusiasm for growing business. I tend to dread the operations side of my small business (preferring to work with clients) and you’ve given me a boost of excitement to address my setup so that I may reach more people.
I’m considering adding sales of my art to my business, so am looking forward to your tips on doing this.
Blessings to you and the rest of the folks gathering to learn from you.
Cassandra Hamilton, BearDog Dreaming
Marchelle – you are so on the right track! One of the things I love about business is that it is not about “selling.” Blashempy, I know! It is about serving. If you serve people, they will buy from you. If you “sell” them, they won’t. Bravo! Keep it up.
Thank you, Steve! 🙏🏽
That helps me with more motivation to keep pushing for better!!!
I think 🤔💬 the content that is purchased and published is great 😃👍 ! I really like that the information ℹ️ is readily available to help people who don’t always look in the same place for the answers. I want to do the same thing. Step 🪜 by step on this one Steve !!! How do I get my article published? How do I shop the article….
Julia – Here’s the deal: If you master the nuts and bolts, you are able to spend far more time doing the part of business that yo love. you got this!
Your email is timely! I attended your Score webinar and it was very informative! I am looking forward to your future messages and the encouragement and experience you provide. I am launching an ecommerce store this year and am excited to learn, stretch and think bigger!
Jean – thank you! Look for another email tonight!