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Starting an online business: real-life case studies

By Guest Author On July 31, 2011 Under Self Help Tips, Success Secrets

Lots has been written about how to commence an online business. I don’t want to color in what’s been outlined already, or show another light on the same old fundamentals. So I’ll share with you a couple of real-life case studies drawn from my years of mastery in online enterprises. Both guys I’ve written about started out working for large corporations, and for one reason or another found themselves having to go it alone online. Take heart, take inspiration. Here are their stories:

The road less travelled: stepping outside the square

If you approach online business with tunnel vision, you will miss the best opportunities. Confidentiality restrains me from giving away too many particulars in this history, but you’ll get the idea even with the names and products substituted for fictional ones. A friend of mine worked for a company that sold widgets in a few different geographical locations. We’ll call them “Widget World”. My friend, in his marketing role, helped Widget World develop their online store about five years ago, bringing in tech support as needed. Sales started trickling in but after one year not as many as the company had hoped for, despite the site achieving search engine popularity and having plenty of traffic. Eventually he found out how to read his search engine statistics and what he saw stumped him. The main keyword he had focused on was “widgets” of course. So what keyword was driving most traffic? Widgets, right? No, the most effective keyword was “gizmos”. But Widget World didn’t sell gizmos! And everyone should have known that Widget World didn’t sell gizmos, because on their website, in a very prominent position (the home page), in magisterial big letters (H1 for the geeks) was the argument: “Please note we do not sell gaudy gizmos, only high quality widgets.”

Well, as it turned out, of all the websites that were actually merchandising gizmos among many other items, none had made such a big noise to the search engines about gizmos as the widget website’s landing page. So, when someone went looking to buy gizmos from an e-store, at the top their results was Widget World. And none of the sincerely gizmo-related sites in the top bunch had online shopping facilities.

My friend was in a lather. At the time he put it this way: “Widget World is never gonna sell gizmos, but if I remove all of the gizmo references from the site, we’ll be fighting it out with thousands of other widget sellers online.” I gave my friend some advice and things unfolded from there. When Widget World downsized, my friend found a gizmo provider and started selling gizmos himself. That was four years ago and at present he’s known as the “gizmo king”. Last I heard he was selling more gizmos than anyone.

Being yourself and making money online

This other guy I know used to be a risk analyst. He was much admired by colleagues for the charicatures of management drawn on his folder whenever presentations got boring. His department was charged with deciding which divisions in the company could be cut back – which people would go – and when there was almost no-one left for them to put in the firing line, his workgroup had to fire itself, effectively. He could have started looking around for a new job, but instead he spent his redundancy payout on some bulk blank t-shirts and a home screen printing starter kit. Next thing he had printed up some designs from his cartoons and with a bit of help from social networking… well, I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag about his ideas for t-shirts online – his business is yet growing. The point is that he found a market with his cartoon t-shirts and he won’t be back on the executive employment line any time soon.

Kissing sayonara to the job and winging it 

Hundreds of thousands of people have created online businesses and a surprising number of these are successful. For a relatively small percentage of people – those prepared to learn from their successes and mistakes – there are millions or billions of dollars being made. For most there is money coming in and unlimited future potential. There is a global settlement full of opportunities out there if you’re sharp and dedicated enough to finding and making the most of them. Do you have what it takes to become an online business success storye-commerce millionaire?


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