I’ve been running an online business for 10 years. I’ve only ever invested a few hundred dollars into it (mostly website set-up costs in 2005) and, from that, I’ve grown a business that has six figures annual revenue. I did all this without putting any extra money into the business (apart from that initial $100-200).
Believe me, I’m not trying to show off. However there are people who haven’t grown businesses as big as mine or have started them with thousands of dollars initial investment. And they will sell you courses and programs costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. These courses and programs will be a waste of your time, money and energy.
I don’t think this is fair. I talk to new entrepreneurs everyday. Most of them don’t have any money to invest. I’m proud that I have always explained and promoted cost-effective ways of starting businesses. I’ve always sold my e-books and video products at prices that are affordable to the majority of people in both rich and poor countries.
Now I’ve got all that off my chest, here are my 10 rules for online business success.
#1 Be happy
Make sure you enjoy your business. Don’t go through unrewarding, unchallenging, boring work now just because you think it’ll make you rich in the future.
… after two years of intense stress you finally manage to come out with a product or service that sells well and makes money. Success? In reality, you spent two years polluting your body as well as the earth with negative energy, [and] made yourself and those around you miserable …
As Eckhart Tolle (above) says, your main purpose is inseparable from what you are doing at this present moment. This current step in your journey is primary. The destination is secondary. If your work is full of love, joy and the best intentions; your business will meet with a similar reaction.
Gary Vaynerchuk puts it another way:
Stop doing shit you hate!
You’re becoming an entrepreneur to enjoy freedom. You must enjoy it now. Even if you’re working a full-time job and this is your side gig. Make sure the side gig makes you happy.
At every stage along the entrepreneurial journey, make sure your work makes you happy!
#2 Be passionate
You must be passionate about your business and about your products.
This may be a cliché. But here’s the thing: It’s difficult to be passionate all the time – almost impossible.
I started offering design services for clients and I didn’t always like the work. OK, it was for my own business and I was passionate about that. But I didn’t always enjoy doing mundane tasks for clients.
However, I managed to pivot my business to help to people run their own design businesses. How could I not be fantastically passionate about that? 🙂
I was helping people achieve the freedom that I was enjoying so much. I increased the passion (10x) I had about my business.
And the client work? I’m even more passionate about that now. I outsource it all. I love that I can pay and teach other people from less fortunate backgrounds. And I love that clients pay me for sending a few emails and messages from cafes in Bangkok.
#3 Work, time management, focus
The modern day businessperson’s ability to make money is determined almost exclusively by their ability to focus.
The people who really put in the long hours are employees. The people who do 70, 80, 90, 100 hour weeks are all working for somebody else, swapping hours for dollars.
Entrepreneurs do not work harder than everyone else. Entrepreneurs work smart they don’t work hard.Entrepreneurs work smart they don't work hard Click To Tweet
But how? How do you work smart? How do you focus? Make sure you are productive in every minute of work that you do on your business.
Spend an hour everyday doing something that gets you closer to your goal. Spend an hour everyday looking for products you can be passionate about. Spend an hour a day creating 5 minutes of video (after a month you’ll have a video course you can sell). Spend an hour a day writing 500-800 words (after a month you’ll have a Kindle book you can sell). Spend an hour a day creating valuable free content on your website (this will ultimately create an audience that you can sell to via email).
I love my “our hour a day” rule! Do things that you love consistently.
Further reading: Productivity Hacks for the Lazy and Undisciplined.
#4 Create multiple products
A lot of people make the mistake of hiding themselves away, spending time and money developing their first product. They go through iteration after iteration. They spend ages thinking about the product and the product’s marketing and delivery.
Your first product is unlikely to be your best product so you shouldn’t spend so much time on it. And, when you finished your first product, don’t spend time patting yourself on the back! Start on your second product – your third, fourth, fifth, sixth … The more products you launch, the more likely it is that one is going to be a real winner.
#5 Have multiple income streams
We’ve seen it so many times before… Somebody has built their business on Facebook ads, or Google traffic, or Amazon FBA, or they have one client that is providing 90% of their revenue, or they are offering only one service… and what happens?
Something changes: Google changes their algorithm, Facebook makes changes the newsfeed, or Amazon changes their rules, or the one client goes out of business, or the market changes, or something happens … and all the income disappears overnight.
You can be sure of only one thing: sooner or later, things change.
If your business has different ways of making money then, if something goes wrong with one of them, it doesn’t make much difference.
Don’t know how to vary your income streams? Here’s 23 Ways I Make Passive Income + 47 More Ideas that Actually Work from Nick Loper at Side Hustle Nation.
#6 Build a platform and collect email addresses
Another way of dealing with the issue mentioned above in #5.
If you have started your business with Facebook, Amazon or Google and then Facebook, Amazon or Google change something, you could suddenly lose your business overnight. The way to mitigate this risk is to actually have your own brand or brands have a website, a web presence, and collect the email addresses of your prospects and customers.
#7 Don’t complain
Platforms like Google and Facebook, etc., governments, and competitors will do things that you don’t like. They will affect your business greatly and you won’t like it.
When this happens don’t spend your energy in complaining or getting angry or any other negative emotion. Instead, put your energy in to your business and solving the business’s problem
We all love to listen to podcasts and read interviews about how someone made a million online overnight with some clever idea. It’s inspiring, yes.
But at the end of the day it doesn’t happen like that in real life.
Mostly, people succeed online because they persevered on one core business idea for a while. Maybe they needed to pivot; maybe they spent some time on one core business idea that didn’t work but they changed and then spent time on another core business idea. They persevered on something and then they succeeded.
#9 Stop buying shiny objects
There are a lot of courses and programs out there that will tell you how to build a business or present you a whole business idea that you can copy and make your own and make money.
These courses and programs are a waste of money. Please, DON’T Buy My Video Courses!All the information you need to be successful is available for free on the internet Click To Tweet
All the information you need to be successful is available for free on the internet.
#10 Take action
I’ve invested some of the thousands of dollars of profits from my business into high-end coaching and seminars. And some of the advice I got from some of the most successful businesspeople in the world turned out to be wrong. I’ve also wasted a ton of money.
Believe me: You’ve only got yourself, you’ve only got your own advice, you’ve only got your own abilities. You are all you need.You are all you need Click To Tweet
You just have to work on your business. Hustle hard. Take action.
Stop reading reading this now! And start doing today!
You can do it!
Seriously, though, you can do it. I’m not joking and it’s not false modesty to say: “if I can do it anyone can”. Because, I was unanimously considered an idiot for most of my life – in school and in all of the jobs I did in the eighties, nineties and two thousands. Yeah, I’m old!
But I still manage to run a successful businesses online and I support a great (but not extravagant) lifestyle of travel and fun. And here is my very reasonably priced course: Starting, Managing, and Scaling a Successful Online Business.
So, I hope these rules help you. If you think I’ve left anything out then feel free to add your rule #11 in the comments.
Olivier Rebiere says
Merci beaucoup for all this advice. We are already building our residual income on the internet for two years now… Dozens of ebooks and some online courses. Slowly but surely we will make it.
Rob Cubbon says
You will do it, Olivier 🙂
Marc Isaacson says
I’d add another rule.
Be of service. Provide something of value to others. Think about how you can solve a problem that somebody else is having.
David Waumsley says
“Be of service” Brilliant Marc.
Absolutely. Make an impression by being good at what you do. Be positive and helpful and the client will want to use you again.
Rob Cubbon says
Good point, Marc. I kinda had that in #2 Be Passionate about your products but it’s not spelt out so that is, indeed, a good 11th rule. 🙂
David Waumsley says
All anyone needs to know is right there!, Thanks Rob
#9 Stop buying shiny objects. Man, do I need some help with this, Not the “make money online stuff”, but those flipping web tools to make jobs easier.
You know it’s all gone horribly wrong when someone recommends a great new tool and you follow the link only to discover your unused account there.
Rob Cubbon says
I kinda think money is better spent on plugins and themes instead of courses – at least the tools actually do something. But it depends on the tool of course 🙂 … and when you’ve bought them and haven’t used them, ouch! 🙂
Great advice! Thank you!
Rob Cubbon says
Thank you, Otilia
Thanks Rob. Really positive and helpful advice. Noted.
Rob Cubbon says
Thank you, Sally
It kinda all confuses me!
I ended up on your site by somehow following you from Facebook!
The thing I don’t understand is what you or any other guy like you actually does? It’s not me being ignorant or horrible… I just can’t work out what you offer. Is that the idea? Should I buy your course or book etc to find out?
Please don’t take that the wrong way – I genuinely am confused.
So I need an idea and then put it into play. Isn’t that what everyone does? Whether it be having an idea to become a doctor and training, having the idea for the Tangle Teaser and running with it, or having an idea for an ‘online business’ (which I can’t work out what it is) …
Can you explain any better to me?
Rob Cubbon says
Hi Peter, I’m sorry you’re confused by this article. I think the problem is that you’ve come from Facebook. This is probably my Facebook page where I post lots of inspirational and entrepreneurial image quotes to get my message out there. If one of the inspirational quotes interested you but afterwards you clicked through to this post, then I can see how you’re confused. Facebook is for diversion; this is something more focused.
So, most of the people who I help know me as an entrepreneur who’s been sharing information on online business for 10 years. I’ve written books, created courses plus posted many videos and articles on numerous social sites: YouTube, Facebook, etc., all about starting and growing an online business.
The info I’ve put out has mostly been about my entrepreneurial journey: starting by running a web and graphic design business, then branching out into selling e-books and video courses and now onto many other business ventures like Amazon FBA.
If you’re new to this then you will be confused. If you’re interested, I suggested you start here. How To Leave Your Job And Work For Yourself Online.
I have plenty of free content and free courses on this site so you should definitely not buy anything from me. Check out the free stuff and then work out from there if I can help you or not.
However, the journey’s route is different for everyone.
Best of luck.