Attaining a college degree is becoming more and more common - these days, almost 40% of people have received a college degree in America. However, having a college degree is not the end all be all of being successful. In this article, I will share with you 8 steps to starting an online business without a college degree.
Step #1: Decide on what you are going to do
Coming to a firm understanding of what your business will be is the very first step in getting started. Are you selling a product, offering a service, or specializing in freelance work? Regardless of what you are doing, nail down exactly what it is you are going to sell. Create a firm understanding of how you are going to describe what it is that you are going to be doing or selling and what your mission will be. Your mission should include why your organization exists, what you sell or provide, its primary goal, and who your primary customer or market is. Once you have this in place, you are ready to jump into the hefty work.
Step #2: Conduct your market research
Although most colleges put a priority on teaching students how to conduct research, it is not needed to get started in your own market research on your industry or product. For example, say you’ve decided to start a self-care subscription service kit. Before bringing it to fruition, you will want to collect as much knowledge as possible on this area. Find out what others in the field are doing that has made them successful, why have others failed in this industry, what is the feedback from the consumer, how can you provide unique value to your customers, and what are all the pieces and parts of getting started, maintaining, and growing the type of business that you are ready to get started. You want to try to stay away from poor sources like Wikipedia and stick to more legitimate or direct sources. Most of what you need is available online with a simple Google search, with access to knowledge more accessible than ever without the need for a college degree.
Step #3: Lay out a statement of purpose & business plan
Before getting started with your logistics, make sure to create a statement of purpose, similar to your mission, and a business plan. Your business plan is a blueprint for how your company is going to run and provide value to your customers. It is where you will apply the research that you have done in step #2 into one document to describe in detail the who, what, when, where, how, and why of your new business. Who is going to run and manage the different aspects of your business, what is your target audience/selling point, when will you be getting started or expecting changes, where will your business be located or selling services, how do you plan to maintain and grow the business (including your finances), and why is your product or service valuable. If you need extra guidance on how to create a business plan, there are lots of templates online that you can use that break down the steps and requirements in more detail.
Step #4: Get your logistics out of the way
When starting a business there are a few logistics that you will need to get out of the way when getting started. Make sure to check off these boxes before declaring yourself a business
Step #5: Decide on and acquire funding:
Deciding on how much and what type of funding is best for you can be a tricky part of getting your business started. However, you don’t need a college degree to figure out how much funding you might need. First, you want to figure out your upfront expenses (what you will need to get started) - most virtual businesses that don’t require inventory (stocked products) are pretty low in upfront costs. Then you will want to estimate your costs for the first year in business as well as your estimated income. From here you can decide if these costs are coverable by you or if you will need to look externally for funding. For more information on how to decide on and acquire your funding click here.
Step #6: Create your online presence
Now that you have all of your logistics in place it is time to start creating a presence for yourself online. This includes creating a website, starting your social media channels, and thinking through your online marketing strategy. Keep in mind that you can learn how to put all of these things together yourself online if your budget is small. However, there are lots of freelancers available to help you put together your online presence for a fee.
Step #7: Expand your network
This might be one of the more challenging but rewarding steps to do when starting a new business without a college degree. One of the most valuable parts of getting a degree is the network that comes along with having gone to the school of your choice. However, building a network external to your degree allows you to connect with people of genuine similar interests. Start by expanding out your social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to include others in your field or industry. Consider attending online and in-person conferences where you can share your product or service with others. Say yes to new opportunities and don’t shy away from making new connections and building new friendships.
Step #8: Promote your business
Promote, promote, promote. Sing it from the hilltops and tell anyone who will listen about what you have built and how it could change their lives. Don’t be ashamed to reach out to family and friends and let them know about your new endeavor. Be proud of what you’ve built and don’t be afraid to share!
Author: Camryn Pickworth
As the head VA and owner of The First Pick VA Group I have found such great joy in sharing my experiences and top tips with other freelancers and aspiring VA's. I hope that our blog can service as a great reference for VA's and Clients alike!