We don’t have to discuss whether or not you should start your own business.
If you’re reading this, you’re past that decision. The question is, do you start up online or off?
A lot of things are the same, and a lot of things aren’t. I’ve got more experience offline than on, but we’re going to talk about both.
First: Slow Down or Pay Up
If you’re broke and in a hurry to make your money, I’ve got some bad news for you.
Neither option is going to work overnight, especially if you’re broke. You need money to start a business offline, and you need patience to start online.
You need to get your mind right before you do anything else. Come back to this post when you’re ready.
Starting out Online
Online you have greater ease of entry and nearly unlimited upside.
Some options, like YouTube, cost nothing to start. Starting your own website takes startup money, but a lot of people over-estimate how much they need.
Hosting and a domain are extremely cheap when you’re starting out and you have no traffic. Even if you go pro from the beginning, you’ll spend a fraction of the cost of an offline business.
The Blog as a Business
Most people now think of a blog when they think of making money online. It’s easy to see why.
A lot of people do good business on a blog. Most people can’t.
There’s a pivotal difference between their blog and profitable blogs.
I don’t like to call them blogs, because when I hear “blog” I think of some loser talking about the salad he ate for lunch.
The best blogs are actually authority sites. I feel a blog is only profitable when the blogger is an authority.
Not only are they an authority, they’re somewhat of a character. The masses (your customers) absolutely love characters.
It’s Almost Like Reality TV
Most people absolutely love characters because they can fantasize about them. They put them on pedestals or make monsters of them.
They think of them in the same way they think of a celebrity. Whether they love or hate the authority blogger, they give them a certain status.
If they actually met the authority blogger they spend so much time reading, they’d be star struck.
Never you mind that the authority blogger is a person just like them.
Well, actually they’re NOT just like them. They’re interesting and they write about their life and beliefs.
The Authority Site as a Business
An authority site can definitely make you money. The main ways it can make you money are affiliate marketing, information products, and advertising.
Not advertising from Ads, though. There’s a reason you’ll never see ads on Business and Bullets for anything other than my work.
When you make and maintain an authority site, you establish yourself as an authority. You’re advertising yourself.
Why wouldn’t you advertise your own products on your own site that establishes you as a trusted authority?
The Catch is Traffic.
Traffic is volume, and volume matters no matter what kind of business you’re running.
A lot of people overestimate how much traffic they can get and how long it’s going to take. Many of them even pay for traffic.
I’ve never seen a successful business that only made money by wasting money. It’s your money, do what you want with it, but I wouldn’t do that.
There’s an easier way. Remember what I said about characters?
Characters get traffic.
I recommend that your “character” and your “real life self” are the same person.
You could be a scammer and play a role. Sure.
You could also be yourself and be unapologetic about it.
This is only going to work if you’re not completely normal. Then again, if you were completely normal you wouldn’t be reading this.
You’d be working a job and watching the game like you’re supposed to.
The Bottom Line for Online Business
If you’re going to go this route, then here are my recommendations.
- Be Interesting
- Don’t Expect to Make Money Overnight
- Expect to Work for What You Do Make
- Understand You’ll Have to Learn a LOT
- Actually Be An Authority
You can’t do a comedy channel on YouTube if you aren’t funny.
You can’t do an authority site if you’re not educated or experienced.
The internet is flooded with “make money online” people who have never actually made money on anything other than “how to make money online” bullshit.
Your online business isn’t going to be sustainable if it isn’t genuine. Disregard this fact at your own peril.
Starting Out Offline
Offline, there are more barriers to entry but you will make money faster.
Usually, how much you make is related to how much you can spend. Have more money? Buy a bigger business.
There are a lot more regulations offline than online because the internet hasn’t been around very long. There’s always some kind of red tape.
I could write a long discussion on various piles of regulatory bullshit, but there’s no need. Just know that Uncle Sam and his local agents want a piece of your pie.
Usually several pieces, some up front and some every year. That’s just a part of the game.
Startup – The Loan
You’re going to need a loan. This loan is going to come from one of three places:
- A bank, obviously.
- The bank of Mom and Dad
If you take a loan from the bank, you’re really borrowing from your future self. You’re banking on your future self having more money than your current self.
If you can take a loan from the bank of Mom and Dad, then you’re better off than most people. Most people don’t have parents that are able to help them start up.
If you start your business with personal savings, then you’re borrowing from your past self. This is the smartest option and also the least used.
Wherever you get money from, you better be able to pay it back. Nothing will ruin your life faster than borrowed money.
The Someday Paradox
You didn’t need me to tell you that borrowed money will destroy your life. You (and everyone else) already know this, and that’s why everyone is “saving up”.
Everyone thinks they’ll have the money to start a business someday. Someday the planets will align and they’ll start their business.
YES you need money to start a business.
The longer you wait, the less likely it will happen.
The longer you wait, the older you are. The future you will likely have more money than the current you, but he will also have more expenses.
Children, medical expenses, you name it. The older you get, the more expenses you have. Don’t keep waiting for a someday that will never come.
The Actual Business Doesn’t Matter
That’s right. The actual business you choose to get into is irrelevant.
Many people get trapped in the Someday Paradox because they don’t have the money. Other times, they’re looking for the right business to start.
Chances are good that if you’re not already experienced, your first several attempts will fail. Even if they don’t, the actual business itself isn’t that important.
If you try to start a business you already understand, chances are good you’re already in that field. If the market for your type of business changes (think Palm Inc, of Palm Pilot fame, now owned by HP) then you’re screwed.
It’s a much better idea to get into a field you can understand on a basic level. You’ll learn as you go.
Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you won’t. You’ll have a good idea of whether or not you’ll succeed after the first year.
The important things on running your business apply to every business. If the numbers are right, you’ll never be wrong.
Stop waiting for the perfect business at the perfect price at the perfect time. It doesn’t exist.
The Best Solution
The best solution mitigates the problems of starting an offline business. Truthfully, there aren’t many options like this.
That’s why you very rarely see me talk about the businesses I run…because you probably won’t be able to get into the same field.
An opportunity everyone has is in tree farming. All you need to do is buy some land with trees on it.
You don’t have to worry about your loan. Regardless of where you got it, you’ll be able to pay it after clear-cutting the property.
Uncle Sam looks good when they make it easy for you to plant trees. They’ll actually pay part of your planting fees.
You can be a man and hunt on your property, or you can lease it to hunt clubs. Either you’ll save enough on groceries or make enough on it to pay the property taxes.
If you clear cut a section of it and separate it from the rest of the land, you’ll have real estate with several options. Have fun with the zoning board, though.
Maybe you can’t see the forest for the trees.
I’m not saying you need a tree farm.
I’m saying the best solution is in starting an offline business with many levels.
Just like the authority site for the online businessman, you want something you can make money with on several levels.
Ideally, you want to control as much of the business as possible by keeping your eggs in many baskets.
You want to be getting paid on several fronts, in several ways, for several things, all on the same business.
This is going to be different for every situation, so refer to the tree farm above.
You start with land, which isn’t doing much. You cut all the trees, sell the wood, and use the profits to pay the loan.
If you worked out the numbers ahead of time, you’ve already made money. At worst, you have a very small loan you can pay off within the year.
You replant the trees, taking advantage of forestry programs to lessen the price. You then lease the land to hunt clubs to make the difference.
Over the course of the next thirty years, you’re collecting lease payments and paying taxes. The difference goes in your pocket.
Thirty years from now, you collect a large sum when you clear-cut the land and repeat the process. This time, there’s no loan.
This amounts to a low risk investment that pays small dividends monthly and large dividends on a longer time frame. That’s better than a high risk investment that pays reasonable dividends monthly and isn’t sustainable.
The Bottom Line for Offline Business
Keep a few general guidelines in mind:
- You want to minimize your downside. Avoid bad debt at all cost.
- You want to minimize your time investment. There are only so many hours in the week.
- You want to minimize your expenses. Don’t fall in the deduction trap.
- You want to maximize your return. All your business is at the end of the day is another investment.
At the end of the day, how you operate the business has more to do with whether or not you’ll succeed. Boring old book keeping, smart spending, and smart saving are what works. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.
Everybody wants to be the next best ______. That’s a bad idea. That’s making things harder for yourself.
It’s a much better idea to meet an existing demand in a boring business and build your base. Chase greatness when you’re not broke. When you’re not worried about paying the bills, you can start to focus on bigger and better things.
The best is just the basic done better. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s life. Leave the daydreams to the children until you can afford to play all day like them.
You have to decide.
Weigh the pros and cons of each method and make the decision for yourself. Ultimately, that’s the truth.
You should audit your life to live the life of your dreams.
You should audit your opportunities to finance that life.
Whether you decide to go offline or on, you have to be able to take advantage of opportunities when they become available.
Regardless of what you choose to do, waiting is not the answer. Waiting is how you end up a bitter old man with a gold watch and a pension, with a head full of doubt and regret.
Go online. Even if you’re offline now.
There’s no reason not to do both!
If you’re offline, build an authority site to serve as advertisement for your business. Make a YouTube channel showing “behind the scenes” at your facility.
If you’re online, start looking at physical assets to serve as a vehicle for that internet money. The bank isn’t your friend anymore and inflation is a bitch.
The best solution is always to use every tool at your disposal.
After you’ve got on your hustle (or right now if you already are) let me know in the comments what you’re doing to cash in both online and off.