Several weeks ago, I told you about a nearly risk-free way to start your Carefree Business.
It’s a strategy that will allow you to nail down the niche for your Carefree Business, test your business ideas, figure out what type of products you should sell, and refine your advertising and marketing strategy … without spending much money (a few hundred bucks at most). And you’ll experience success – and your first profits – much faster.
This start-up strategy is called Ready, Fire, Aim. And I’d like to tackle the next step today.
In a nutshell, RFA is all about taking action, speed, keeping things simple – especially at first, and not spending time or money on unprofitable ideas.
You don’t go through what are considered the conventional first steps to a business: logo, fancy website, office equipment, or product stock. Because you are starting an information business online, you don’t need any of that anyway. All you really need are your home computer and your ideas.
You test those ideas in the market first by trying to sell them. You let your customers determine what your business looks like. You start with the prospect, not the product.
As Michael Masterson says in his book Ready, Fire, Aim:
“Wise business owners know they cannot determine the goodness of an idea until they try to sell it. So they will try to sell it as soon as they can – before they have spent a lot of time and money making it perfect.”
In my first essay on RFA, we covered the initial steps in the first phase: Ready. When getting Ready, you narrow down your business’s niche, determine the target market, figure out what products you’re going to sell, and put together the initial marketing plan.
This is all done quickly and easily with the online tools I’ll be telling you about. And we’ll be taking things one step at a time here in the Carefree Entrepreneur.
Last time, I asked you to come up with an idea for your Carefree Business. I heard from several readers.
Thomas wants to sell information on disaster preparedness. Sally is a wedding planner in Italy looking to take her business online. And Charles wants to help people on a budget with interior decorating.
If you haven’t picked your niche yet, take a moment to do so now.
Brainstorm all your passions, hobbies, or interests. Then pick one that your gut tells you will sell.
Now we’ll back up that gut feeling with some proof that this is a viable business idea.
The Carefree Entrepreneur’s Path to a Profitable Business
So you have an idea for your ideal business. Let’s use something having to do with yoga as an example. Insert your own business idea to follow along.
You love yoga and so do all your friends. It seems to be everywhere.
To confirm your feeling, do this:
Look for real-world evidence. How many yoga studios are in your area? Is yoga offered at your local gym? Have you seen yoga DVDs and other products for sale in local shops? At your local bookstore, do you see yoga books and magazines for sale? Do you see ads related to yoga in magazines you read?
Here in South Florida, I found 30+ yoga studios in a 20-mile radius of my home, with 10 within a 15-minute drive – and that was just a cursory search. And yoga gear is for sale everywhere from Whole Foods to small businesses downtown.
If you found the same results with your topic, then …
Go online. Do keyword searches related to your topic. In our example, you could Google “yoga”, “yoga tips”, “hatha yoga”, “beginner’s yoga”, etc. You are looking for sites selling products and information related to yoga. There should also be plenty of paid ads at the top and right of the search results. The more you find, the better. That means there is a big customer base and businesses are making money. You should also check eBay and the Amazon Marketplace for sellers in this niche.
My keyword searches yielded thousands of sites selling videos (yogawithles.com/videos/), subscriptions to member sites (yogatoday.com), and physical products (gaiam.com). And there were many sellers on eBay and the Amazon Marketplace (a great place to check out trends). Plus, there were paid ads up through at least the 15th page of search results. If there are that many businesses paying for ad placements – that’s also a good sign.
Now let’s make sure that all those sites in the search results are the real deal.
You want a topic that generates traffic (which leads to sales). Here’s an insider tip to find out just how successful all those sites you found are. Use free tools like Alexa.com and Compete.com. Just type in the web address and you’ll get a graph of web traffic. You should also use Google’s free Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) to check out searches related to your niche.
Again … the more the better. A few thousand searches a month is not so good. Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of searches is where you want to be. I wouldn’t recommend going into any niche without at least 30,000 searches per month.
“Bikram yoga,” for example, yielded 823,000 monthly searches on Google. “Yoga video” has 210,000 searches. “Yoga online” brought 110,000. Those are good numbers.
In the yoga example, going through the steps above yielded a huge offline and online presence. Thousands of businesses large and small are selling yoga products, from mats and clothing to instructional videos, ebooks, and yoga retreat travel packages. And the website traffic and keyword searches were off the charts.
It’s a certified worldwide trend and you should jump on it. If your niche didn’t have much of a presence, repeat with some of your other passions or hobbies until you find a winner.
You might wonder, how will you stand out from the crowd? Is there room for your business in this crowded market?
The competition is a good thing.
It seems counterintuitive. But you want to be surrounded by similar businesses. Other successful businesses mean there are customers out there. Customers that can be yours.
That doesn’t mean your business won’t be unique.
In the next essay in this series, we’ll discuss how to narrow down your niche to meet the needs of certain segments of the market. By being specific and coming up with your own unique twist on what’s “hot,” you’ll position yourself as an authority and become the go-to online resource.
In our example, yoga is too broad. And you can’t compete with the big name companies and gurus in the field. But “yoga for preschoolers” or “yoga for busy professionals” might do the trick. The keyword tool you used above will be very useful here.
Next time, we’ll use several of the same online tools to help you pick your specific niche.
Before then, make sure to go through the steps above. It must be done before you can narrow down your niche, not to mention find or create a product to sell, create your initial marketing, and perform other start-up steps.
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