In my line of work I come across a lot of people who have lost lots of money trying to make money online, when in reality it should be the other way round.
Internet marketing or making money online has become the 21st century’s Gold Rush with everybody trying to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.
So why do people keep on losing money online trying to make money?
It’s very simple.
First of all there are those who jump on the bandwagon. We all like to play ‘follow,follow’ and the minute we all find out Mr X has made a fortune selling iced-water sachets online we all try to copy him. With everybody trying to do the same thing the market becomes overcrowded and saturated and nobody makes any money. Remember there is only one Coca-Cola and hundreds of imitators who struggle to compete. Try and be original.
Internet marketing has brought out a new breed of motivational speakers who call themselves ‘gurus’. They’ve made millions of naira (-or dollars!) online and they can’t wait to teach you how to do the same – for a price! They hold seminars, webinars, sell books and downloads, have glitzy websites and blogs all offering advice which will cost you something.
Now, while their rag-to-riches story might be unique it does not necessarily mean it’s going to work for you. Another man’s meat is another man’s poison. You have to write your own success story which, just like them, often requires a lot of hard work, trial and error and failure before you hit the big time. You can’t expect to walk in their footsteps, step-by-step, and make the fantastic wealth they’ve made without putting in the effort.
Another thing letting people down is education and I don’t mean formal education. You can have a Ph.D. in computing and not have a clue about internet marketing and ecommerce and a mere 16 year old geek can dazzle you with things like DDoS, viral banners, Alexa ratings, Google ranking apps or flash mob marketing. If you put a website up and don’t know how to market it, it will just sit there costing you money to run without bringing in any revenue. Learn, learn, learn – the internet is awash with marketing courses and eBooks that are free (-on most occasions) to download. Learn all you need to learn and network with the right people before going ahead with your ventures because internet marketing is a whole different ball game to running a traditional business.
The most important reason people fail online and I’ve deliberately left this to last is the lack of a USP.
USP is the acronyms for Unique Selling Proposition which in layman’s terms means what makes your product stand out better than your competitor; what makes the loaf of bread you’re selling better than Mama-Jacobs from around the corner? This is what business is all about; being better than your competitor? Better USP means more sales and equals more profit.
You have to learn how to stand out from the crowd or you won’t sell anything. Facebook wasn’t the first social media platform in the world, Zuckerberg’s’ USP was to make his more interactive and user-friendly ; Linda Ikeji is not the only blogger in Nigeria but she’s more well-known because her USP is writing a blog that appeals to a wide range of people. Likewise Apple’s USP is to create the best innovative consumer items in the world, items we can’t do without.
Whilst internet businesses are not as capital intensive as traditional ones are you still stand to lose a lot of money if you don’t get your sums right. Draw up a traditional business plan before you start.
Try and not jump on the bandwagon. Come up with something that’s unique and you’re very passionate about. It could be writing and creating study eBooks that will appeal to students or an online houseboy or housegirl referral service. Keep it simple, keep it unique and you’ll win. Avoid the ‘fast-cash-today’ mentality( unless you’re a scammer!) and concentrate on something that will grow steadily creating a residual income overtime ; who would have thought a very simple business idea like Twitter or Snapchat would grow into a multi-billion dollar concern?
Stay away from so-called motivational speakers or ‘gurus’ who charge you money to listen to their ‘stories’ (sic – I could charge you money to listen to my ‘success’ story but you’ll probably be bored after half an hour!) – You can download better motivational talks or books for free! A good book which is free to download is ‘The Science of Getting Rich’ or better still get a copy of Richard Branson’s ‘Losing my V!rg!n!ty’ or Rhonda Bryne’s ‘The Secret’. If you want to listen to a good story buy yourself a novel!
Learn as much as you can. Ecommerce is a new thing and lots of institutions and organisations offer lots of online courses – most of them are free.
Good luck in all your endeavours and I hope you become the next dot com billionaire!