In 2013 I became obsessed with online businesses.
Since then, I've consumed thousands of hours of video, audio, and written interviews with successful online and legacy entrepreneurs. And I've always looked at every piece of content through the lens of a healthcare entrepreneur.
After almost a decade, I've narrowed it down to 5 key characteristics every online business shares:
1. It starts with a sale.
Your first priority, as an entrepreneur, is to sell something.
Stop wasting time on websites, business plans, logos, LLCs, and focus on reaching out to a few potential clients and offering them your services. If you can't sell a coaching package (or whatever else you plan to sell) before you get everything else ready, you're doing things backward.
2. It is self-funded.
You don't need investors, business loans or to self-fund your operations after a couple of months.
Successful entrepreneurs make sure their business is generating revenue ASAP so it can sustain itself. They bootstrap their operations and avoid hiring and making purchases before they need to.
3. It is small.
You don't need an army of freelancers to help you get your business off the ground.
One good VA, putting in 10 hours of focused work per week is all you need to get some of the most tedious tasks off your plate while you roll up your sleeves and learn to do the rest.
I know people doing 7 figures in annual revenue, with 90% margins and no employees…
4. It is systematized.
Amateurs rely on inspiration. Professionals rely on systems.
Online entrepreneurs have systems for content creation. For onboarding clients. Following up with potential candidates. Creating proposals. Collecting feedback and testimonials.
Systems allow your business to function without you.
5. It is data-driven.
Amateurs obsess about their idea; entrepreneurs obsess about the data.
It doesn't matter how incredible your product or service is if people don't want it. This is a tough pill for many to swallow. Especially those who refer to their business or their products as "their baby".
But successful entrepreneurs know how to look at the data and are not afraid to cut their losing products.
However, all of these are irrelevant if you don't start.
My hope with this essay is to inspire you to start something. Start today and make it better as you go along.