Sunday, April 1, 2007

What It Takes to Build a DIY Web Business

What It Takes to Build a DIY Web Business
by: Michael Kay

So you want to get into business on the web, and you've decided that none of the pre-packaged opportunities quite do it for you. If you go do-it-yourself (DIY) you're in for a real ride!

Like any business, web business has a body of tricks and techniques. Success means mastering them. Now to be fair, you can learn as you go - but, the need to address each of seven disciplines remains.

The Seven Disciplines of Web Business are:

1. Designing your business: even if you throw the business together it still has a design. Careful design can guarantee success just as unthinking design can guarantee failure. Look around the offline world and ask yourself "How does this business make money?" You need to think through the same things on the web.

2. Position your business: an extension of the problem of design, positioning a business means marking it out from the competition and attracting customers to spend. Look at a crowded business offline - such as food groceries. How are the different stores positioned so they don't compete head to head?

3. Stocking the shelves: what you sell and how you source it is a fundamental skill in any business, even the web. The logical next step from positioning, think about the difference between a discount furniture store and a top end one. The product range will suit how they go to market.

4. Web design: acres of screen space have been devoted to this topic, a measure of its importance. Poorly designed web pages can still make money, but with the advent of software for the non-technical, anyone can create simple sites.

5. Generating traffic: separates the successful from the also-rans. Generating traffic is the most profoundly difficult activity on the web. Solved – you are wealthy. Read all you can about traffic generation and make the necessary investments in tools. It is too important to just hope!

6. Converting your traffic: so you got them to the door, now get them to buy! Writing sales copy is a real art. Either invest the time in learning how - or hire someone.

7. Exploiting the customer base: your email list is your most valuable asset. Properly managed it will feed you for life! They say "the money is in the list", and so it is. Form relationships with your customer base and they will feed you for life.

The above represent The Seven Disciplines of Web Business. But alone they aren't enough for success. If you are at the decision point, try these questions:

Do you have the time and persistence to deal with the long learning curve on all the Seven Disciplines or am you looking for some form of 'ínstant' success? If you feel under pressure to get there quickly, then Do It Yourself (DIY) isn't for you. There is nothing wrong with this. People come to web business typically under financial pressure and looking for a quick resolution to their difficulties. Getting going with a pre-packaged solution may well work, and if it doesn't they you will have learned a lot

Do you have something to say? Or a product to hawk? If you do, then DIY may be your solution. It may take you longer, but the intensity of the satisfaction will be greater and the financial potential is much higher

Are you technologically challenged? DIY for your first venture may not be the solution, technology is an inescapable part of web business

Are you a serious player, or is this a passing fancy? Be brutal. If you have a steady job, little entrepreneurial background and no burning need to do anything, then chances are you won't succeed at an entrepreneurial venture on or off line. Being an entrepreneur requires either deep drive, something to say or prove, or a complete inability to stand conventional employment. Not everyone has that drive. No reason they should. But if you don't and you're still interested then you are a hobbyist; have fun, the web isn't only about becoming rich. Setting up a web business, is a low cost affair compared with offline operations. The true cost isn't in money, it is in time.

Mastering the Seven Disciplines of Web Business takes time. But if you are successful, you have a skill that will feed you for your entire life! Now there's a reason to DIY... insurance in our uncertain world!

About The Author
Michael Kay is Research Director of HBB Research a business school based research program looking at web home-based business. He is the lead author of HBB Research's recent Report: The Gold Rush. The Gold Rush is currently being serialized in the Insights Letter, the free info-letter of HB Research. To subscribe to the Insights Letter go to

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