How to start an online business – part 4

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There has been some late nights since I last wrote and I’ve also hired some more help! Basically I’ve been up to my elbows in content. You see this is the labour intensive part of the online start-up, but it’s also where you start to see things ‘take shape’. I’m proud to now have a launch date for you too: Friday 16 September which is when I will take my team to Sydney to see Donald Trump, Robert Kiyosaki and Anthony Robbins live at the National Achievers Congress. I see this three day event as an ideal opportunity to take some marketing material and announce my new online start up to the world!

So if I want to go live in just five days, what needs to happen? Well basically like anything you need to size the job up and work out what you can and can’t do within the time frames you’ve set yourself….

STEP 19: Tracking the content upload

To get a feel for how much content I had completed and had to go, I created a spreadsheet to track each of the actions I needed to take on any given web page. In the case of this website for each page I needed to set up to:

• Create the category page
• Add it to the dynamic menu
• Give it a page title
• Ensure at least one awards item was added to the page so on launch there was content for the users to browse.

By taking the time to consider this, and then creating a spreadsheet with each task in a column and each category in a row, I was able to tackle the content at different times of the day and night and know each time I came back to it exactly where I was up to. It also meant my progress was recorded so that I could delegate to another person should I run out of time and decide this was the way I wanted to go.

STEP 20– Hired a VA

Realising my deadline was looming, and feeling overwhelmed by how much there was still to do (yes it happens to the best of us!), I decided to look into hiring a VA (virtual assistant).

A VA is an entrepreneur who provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients from a home office. Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits.

Whilst I am aware of multiple online sites that you can hire a VA on, I was concerned about the time it may take me to write and ad and screen potential candidates, so my first port of call was to my friend Aaron who runs outsourceassault.com.au who provide a service connecting business owners with suitable VAs. I also contacted a colleague of mine who I knew had a current VA who was potentially keen for more hours.

To cut a long story short, I’ve ended up working with my colleague’s VA, who is based in Atlanta, America. She speaks great English, is extremely prompt and efficient, and so far I am loving working with her!

So how do I work with her if she is in America? Well if you consider how you do business these days (depending on what it is you do of course) email and other online communications such as Skype may be a big part of it. To help matters more, all of my systems are accessible online. To get started with my VA, I’ve simply created a spreadsheet, and shared it with her via Dropbox, provided her instructions via Gmail and provided further information and to do’s via Basecamp.

STEP 21: Liaising with my web developer

Apart from my VA there are other tasks which I don’t have the technical expertise to handle but which I am continuing to regularly liaise with my web developer about to ensure everything comes together beautifully come launch day.

The type of stuff I am following him up on at the moment are making sure the advertising page is linked up to my gateway so we can accept funds on the site, making sure the web forms which will allow users to post content are up and running and displaying in a way I want them to etc. Trust me when I say, you need a good web developer on your site. I am blessed to have an excellent one!

STEP 22: Encouraging user-generated content

A good online business will feature a few traits including encouraging user-generating content, rewarding users who provide content in some way and automating as many of the functions as possible.  In this vein, I’ve been preparing email broadcasts and compiling lists of industry professionals that I know who will know of the most prestigious business awards in their location or industry. As soon as the web forms my web developer is preparing are ready, I’ll insert the link direct to that page and be encouraging my VA to send out multiple emails on my behalf asking these industry professionals for their help in suggesting business awards live on the site. This will happen before I go live, and will also double as a good referral system as they’ll get a sneak peak of the website and will hopefully tell others! In this way, my contacts will be building my site – it’s not all on me!

STEP 23: Preparing marketing material

In anticipation of launch day, I’ve had my team prepare some business cards and a simple DL, double sided flyer.

Thank goodness for digital print runs because my focus has been on all these other items and I’ll probably need to get these printed in Sydney and pick them up ready for my event using a service like Snap Printing or CopyWizz. A simple search on Google Maps should show me where the closest one to my hotel down there will be.

STEP 24: Keep the anticipation and conversation going

An important part of building up to the launch is also keeping in touch with people who are potential users or potential referrers. Social media is naturally a great location to connect with these people (and to get encouragement and ideas) I am a member of a number of private business groups on things like Facebook as I have mentioned in previous posts. This week I put up this post on one of these private groups:

“Love your input people. later this week i hope to go live with my new business awardshub.com which features lists of business awards around the globe. how many business awards do you think is the minimum i could go live with and not disappoint? or put another way, if you were to come to the site, how many business awards would you expect to see in your country – australia? (note, users of the site will be able to contribute awards not listed. it will be in constant development). i’d appreciate your thoughts…”

As you’ll note I’m letting them know what I am doing, but also asking a question I’d really like feedback on, as I’m not sure how far I should keep pushing it in the next 5 days before launch. So how many items do you think I should go live with? I welcome your comments below.

Until next time!

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