20/03/2014

By Jonathan Kettle, serial entrepreneur and founder of successful online businesses TaxiCode.com and TaxiPriceCompare.co.uk

Here are my top tips on starting and running a successful internet business:

1) Don’t run before you can walk. The great thing about running an internet business is your ability to test the water before you start investing too much time and money into your idea. If you want to sell things online, my advice would be don’t start by building an online shop. This is an expensive first step for an unproven business. Try ebay first and see what the response is like. If your products don’t sell on a store with millions of visitors, you may well struggle to sell them on your own website!

2. Pay Per Click is fast, but pricey. Google is a great way to advertise but you can quickly hit your limit on what can be achieved. If 100% of your business comes from Google what happens if your rankings drop or Pay Per Click Costs start to increase. Make sure you have more the one route to market. Don’t think Google will be the single solution.

3. Try not to borrow money. If you are borrowing money before you start you’re already in the minuses. You need to know if you’re going to spend £1 are you going to get your £1 back plus more?. If you’re spending your own hard earned money you should be very cautious as to how it’s used.

4. Don’t waste your money on things you don’t need. Letterheads, business cards, new laptops and tablets all fall into this category I’m afraid. Don’t subscribe to any service that you don’t need. Making money online can be very competitive. Make sure you can make money before you spend money. Don’t think a shiny new desk will make you want to work harder!

5. Think about scale. Will your business be able to grow and how will it get there? It’s not that hard to make £1000 per month just copying someone else’s business model but how will you get to £5000, £10,000 or £50,000? How many staff would you need and what will you profit margins be? It’s not usual for companies to make less money the more they turnover. Always think about profit and how you are going to increase. Be creative with your idea’s and don’t be limited by how other people do things. Try and think, “can I do this differently and what can I change to make it better”.

6. Think about your target market. Money brings money to money. If you really want to make money you should look at the people who are rich, what they spend their money on and where they buy it. You can make a lot of money out of 3 rich customers and very little out of 1000 less well off ones!

7. Research, and do lots of it. Check out your competitors, how do they operate, how much do they make? You can obtain a copy of basic accounts for any company from companies house for £1.

8. Think ‘Me’, not ‘Me Too’ – Don’t kid yourself into thinking if you copy somebody’s idea or website they won’t come after you for it. Try to make sure your business is all your own work from day one. If your idea is your own don’t recruit a business partner with the belief they will do as much work as you. It often doesn’t work out this way. If it’s your idea, my advice is to do it on your own. When you are successful, you will be much happier that you did it all on your own terms.