January 1, 2021

The Complete Guide To Launching A Successful Online Business In 2021

As 2019 drew to a close, and your Facebook timeline filled with “2020 is going to be my year” posts from your overly optimistic aunty, no one could have predicted what the new year had in store.

In 2019, we hit top speed and were cruising down the homestretch. In 2020, the wheels fell off, the car hit the crash barriers, and the grandstand collapsed.

But some good has come out of 2020.

E-commerce has flourished, everyone knows how to use Zoom, and businesses are more willing to embrace virtual conferences and remote working.

In 2021, these opportunities will likely continue. Whether the vaccine fixes everything or the chaos endures, one thing is sure: 2021 will be the biggest year yet for e-commerce.

There is no better time to start a business online. In this guide, I’ll discuss some of the ways you can do that, going from ideation to marketing and covering aspects such as supply chain creation, SEO, Google Ads, and social media marketing along the way.

All of these ideas were discussed during 2020’s episodes of This Week With Sabir.

I spoke with 25 e-commerce and branding experts over the course of several months and they provided viewers with more than 25 hours of valuable insights.

For more information on specific processes and techniques, check the links provided in the brackets. All of these point to the original podcast episode, where you’ll find a full 60-minute interview and an extensive complimentary guide.

Launching Your Business

Over 6.5 million businesses are launched every year in the United States. Contrary to what you might have heard, most of these won’t fail in the first year, but a large number of them will and only 1 in 10 will survive longer than a decade.

Fortunately, success isn’t a lottery. If you plan well, work hard, and invest wisely, you’ll succeed.

You might not be the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg, but you’ll get out what you put in and if you keep investing your time, money, and creativity, you’ll keep growing your business.

Plan Everything

Launching a new business isn’t as easy as having an idea and raising some capital.

Everyone likes to imagine themselves as future business owners. It’s everyone’s favorite topic of discussion after watching Shark Tank or hearing about the latest billion-dollar business acquisition.

The reason most people don’t progress beyond that initial idea stage is that there are a lot of things to think about, a lot of questions to ask.

And that’s not a bad thing, as the more time you take and the more steps you complete, the higher your chances of success will be.

Make sure you cover the following 4 steps when launching your business:

Prepare Your Idea

What product will you sell or what service will you deliver? Have you conducted market research to ensure your idea is viable and are you confident you can get the supply that you need?

It’s important to start this process as soon as you can, making sure the supply chain exists and you stay within your target margins.

For instance, let’s imagine that your goal is to launch a line of premium coffees packed into hermetically-sealed cardboard tubes.

You only have $15,000 to invest and have determined that at least $5,000 of that needs to be reserved for developers, writers, and marketers.

If you do your research, you’ll likely discover that you have one of two options: You either buy in bulk and pay very little per unit or you buy small quantities and pay twice or thrice as much.

And that’s before you consider the packaging supplies, which follow the same principles.

At this point, you may need to revisit your idea and your budget, either generating more money, changing your packaging, revising your product, or opting for an entirely new business idea.

It’s a stressful time and it involves a lot of research, quotes, and troubleshooting.

Do The Legal Stuff

Your business needs to be registered and you also need to think about naming your company, purchasing trademarks, and acquiring any necessary permits and licenses.

A trademark isn’t essential at this stage, but it really depends on what kind of business you have and how much you’re investing in it.

If you’re trying to do something unique, and you have a lot of money behind you, it makes sense to trademark your business and logo.

As for the name, make sure you actually Google it and check to see if anyone else is using it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard supposedly “great names” from excited business owners, only to discover that several companies across several industries are using the same name.

It doesn’t need to be a pun. It doesn’t need to be a new word. As long as it is relevant to your industry (or vague enough to be relevant to anything) and has an available domain name, you’re good to go.

Think About Your Location And Payments

Where will your business be located?

Are you running it from your home, or will you need office space?

If it’s the former, do you have enough storage space, and—where food businesses are concerned—can you manufacture your product safely and according to local laws and guidelines?

If it’s the latter, do you really need an expensive office, or will a shared office space suffice?

Just as importantly, you need to think about your online platforms.

Will you opt for Shopify, WooCommerce, or Amazon? How will your website be built, and through which service will your products be shipped?

Finally, consider how customers will pay for your products/services. You can set this up through Shopify, WooCommerce, or Amazon, but you will need a business bank account to begin with and you may also need to sign up for accounts with merchants like PayPal.

Write Your Business Plan

A business plan is essential if you want investment, and that’s true whether you’re pitching to experienced investors or friends and family.

It will also put your ideas on paper and help you plot the launch of your business.

Your business plan covers the cost of launching and running your company, information that you will have obtained during the first steps of this process. It will tell you how much you need to raise if you want that idea to stick, and what corners need to be cut if you’re short on funds.

Don’t Assume Anything

Episode 004: The Power of Strategic Thinking with Paul Butler

It doesn’t matter who you are and how smart you are, if you’re going into business for the first time, you will always make assumptionsthat turn out to be well off the mark.

Many of these assumptions are underestimations that prove costly.

It’s been a long time since I first launched an online business, so as an example, I will use a story told to me by a friend.

My friend worked as a graphic designer for a record label. After a few years, work dried up and he began freelancing, with a lot of his work revolving around e-commerce and food-based businesses in particular.

After working for a few start-ups in the industry, and being complimented for his logo and packaging design, he decided to launch his own company.

As anyone involved in this sector can attest, once you’ve spent a few years working for a host of different clients, you make a lot of connections, and it was no different for my friend.

He knew writers, marketers, social media people, and other experts he could call upon if he needed.

He meticulously planned everything, from his margins to how much of his time he needed to invest in the day-to-day operations.

But despite all of that forethought, he made some massive missteps.

For instance, he assumed that he could go from concept to launch in just a couple of months. But once he dealt with trademarks, licensing, storage, and supply, over 6 months had passed and he didn’t even have a website!

Not only did he grossly underestimate the length of time these things would take, and the steps entailed in running a food business, but he also didn’t consider delays and other issues.

His margins were off, as well.

He calculated how much his raw ingredients would cost and how much he needed to pay for each shipment, but he neglected to think about the storage and shipping supplies.

Everything from the invoice that you place in the parcel to the printer that creates it and the software that prepares it needs to be considered.

When he finally launched his business, he was ready with a customer support team. He hired two remote workers, one from the Philippines and one from Mexico.

The idea was to have around-the-clock email and phone support.

It took 2 weeks before he got his first non-spam email and even after 6 months, by which time he was getting 50 sales a week, the queries numbered just 2 or 3 a day.

Those hours were wasted, those staff members were overpaid, and the entire process cost him dearly and unnecessarily.

As noted by Paul Butler during episode 004 of This Week With Sabir, assumptions are everywhere in business and they’re not limited to inexperienced entrepreneurs.

People make assumptions about their target demographics. They make assumptions about how well they will do, how much help they will need, and whether certain products will sell.

It’s okay to take risks and to speculate, but don’t make concrete statements about your business unless you have the facts to back them up.

If you tell me that your product is mainly targeted toward successful young men, you should be able to tell me why.

Don’t state that your business is targeted toward young bodybuilders just because you sell creatine and protein powders. What about the millions of women involved in competitive sport and fitness? What about the people on high-protein diets and the ones looking to preserve muscle as they age?

Blind assumptions lead to costly mistakes and should be avoided.

Research, Develop, And Plan New Product Launches

Episode 021: Create, Develop & Launch New Products with Bryan Mattimore

Extensive research shouldn’t be limited to the launch of your business; it should also be conducted prior to every product launch.

In episode 021 of This Week With Sabir, I spoke with Bryan Mattimore, who has helped to launch innumerable products for some of the biggest companies in the United States.

His process involves extensive research, testing, and development.

It’s the only way to know for sure whether the market is ready for your product and whether it’s worth your investment.

Surveys and focus groups will provide you with this information, and these can be conducted on any scale and for any product.

If you have the means to hire someone like Bryan, they will do all of the work for you. If not, you can get similar results by prompting your customers to complete surveys in exchange for discounts and freebies.

You can also leave comment boxes on your website. In such cases, it’s best to ask open-ended questions and to make them optional.

If you ask multiple-choice questions and insist that they need to be answered before the customer progresses, you’ll get a lot of annoyed consumers and disingenuous answers.

The following questions can tell you more about your business and products:

  • Which product/product type would you like to see in our store?
  • Is there a reason you didn’t purchase this product today?
  • Is there any way we can improve our range?

Alternatively, conduct online focus groups from a mixed demographic of consumers. You can invite them through emails or social media and incentivize them to spend 30 to 60 minutes trialing your products.

You may discover that the market simply isn’t ready for the product that you’re pitching. More often than not, however, the realizations are much simpler and just as important, including:

  • The price is too high, and consumers aren’t willing to pay it.
  • The price is too low and perceived as low quality.
  • The instructions on how to use the product are unclear.
  • People do not like the color/design.
  • You need more/less copy on the packaging.

Of course, focus groups don’t guarantee success. They need to be approached in a very specific way, otherwise, the participants tell you what they think you want to hear, and not what you actually need to hear.

It also doesn’t account for the effectiveness of your marketing or the willingness of your target demographic. Many great products failed because the marketing was terrible, or consumers had an issue that the focus groups didn’t account for.

Take New Coke as an example. Coca-Cola spent millions researching and marketing the product, and yet everyone hated it because it was different from what they were used to and what they had been drinking all of their lives.

And then you have the Arch Deluxe from McDonald’s, a “grown-up” burger that likely performed very well in testing and seemed to be a delicious addition to the range, but ultimately flopped because of some very questionable marketing decisions.

Take a look at the episode with Bryan (linked at the top of this section) to learn more about conducting focus groups and developing new products.

Don’t Get Lost In Original Ideas

Episode 014: The Magic Spoon Journey with Gabi & Greg

Original ideas are great, but they are not essential, and if you don’t have the capital and can’t make a full-time commitment, it’s often best to avoid them.

We can use the supplement market as an example.

Let’s assume it’s an industry you know well and one you want to get involved with. You do your research and are torn between two different ideas.

On the one hand, you could build your business around hemp protein. On the other, you consider doing the same for insect protein.

The latter may seem a little absurd and different, but it’s a sustainable food source that is high in protein and low in fat. It can be added to protein bars and used to make everything from food mixes (including bread and burgers) to high-protein smoothies.

But to make that idea work, you would need to create a supply chain from scratch. You would need to find a food-grade source of insect protein and ensure it is properly processed.

You also need to undergo testing, and research, and development, and as no one else is doing it, you don’t have any precedent to follow.

Once you clear all of those obstacles, you still have to convince consumers to swap traditional dairy and plant-based proteins for insects.

In the United States, that’s a hard sell.

This is not a completely hypothetical scenario, as it’s something that Greg and Gabi had to do when they first got into business together.

Long before these two innovative entrepreneurs founded Magic Spoon, they began a cricket protein business and faced countless challenges.

They got there in the end, but by the time they sold the business, they had decided to never go down that road again and to focus only on products with existing supply chains.

On the flip side, hemp protein might not be completely unique and original, but it hasn’t been as widely embraced as some alternatives.

It’s also part of one of America’s fastest-growing agricultural industries (following the completion of the 2018 Farm Bill) and high-quality organic hemp seeds are definitely not hard to source.

If you launch the business with a unique brand story and a strong message, and you follow this by researching your target market and meeting consumer demand, you’ll have all of the benefits without any of the issues.

Sometimes, business is about being the first and the most unique. Other times, it’s about walking into a crowded venue, jostling your way to the stage, and grabbing hold of the microphone.

If you have the loudest voice and the most distinctive message, no one cares if your product is unique or not.

Monitor And Analyze Everything

Episode 019: Utilizing Analytics with Avinash Kaushik

During several episodes of This Week With Sabir, the topic of big data and analytics was addressed.

Data is one of the most valuable assets that a business can have and the entire world of e-commerce is built upon it.

As an internet user, everything that you do is tracked.

When you use Google, your searches are logged, it knows which sites you visit and which products you buy. Google even knows which users are more likely to buy once they click search ads and shopping ads, and there is a feature in Google Ads (“maximize conversions”) that focuses on these users to increase conversions.

When you log onto Facebook, not only does it track how long you spend on the platform and what pages you visit, but it also knows which posts you’re interested in based on your engagement.

And I’m not just talking about likes and shares. If you typically speed-scroll through your account, only to stop and linger on images and videos about beauty, Facebook knows you have an interest in beauty and will show you more products related to makeup and pages related to styling.

Facebook and Google don’t gather your data just for the fun of it. Contrary to what the tinfoil-hat-brigade would have you believe; they are not secretly plotting to take over the world by spying on your browsing habits.

It’s all for the advertisers, and as a business owner, you need to tap into that world.

By using Google Analytics, you can track every person who visits your website. It will tell you what device they use, how long they spend on the site, and where they live.

If you combine this with data from your merchant, as well as data from marketing platforms and email marketing campaigns, you can paint a complete picture of your customers.

From that, you can learn the whos, whys, whats, and woulds of your target demographic.

  • Who buys your products?
  • Why do they buy them?
  • What do they use them for?
  • Would they pay for an upgrade or a new product if it was offered to them?

That’s incredibly valuable information and it can take your business to the next level. It’s essential info if you’re launching new products, changing your prices, or making any other significant change.

Tell Your Story

A brand story is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to tell your life story and give everything meaning.

You can launch a hot sauce company because you like hot sauce—you don’t need to tell the world that hot sauce saved your life and you don’t need to be a former competitive eater or chili expert.

You don’t even need a story.

A brand identity is what makes you unique, it’s the thing that differentiates you from your competitors.

I’m not going to point fingers, but I recently did some research on one of the country’s biggest and most exciting industries right now. I checked over 50 sites in this industry and 30 of them didn’t even have About Us pages.

The only way to even know where they were based, was to visit the Contact Us page and look for the return address.

If you were reading a book, you’d have a hard time emotionally investing in a protagonist if you didn’t know their name, location, what they looked like, or what their interests were.

It’s the same with a company.

The best brand identities consist of stories that detail the history of the company/founder and highlight some of its biggest achievements, whether that means launching an industry-first or giving some money to charity.

This is backed by an original logo, and a consistent aesthetic and style.

For example, let’s return to the idea of selling hemp protein powders.

You might name your company Hemp Power, create a tagline of “Unlocking the Power of Hemp”, and use plenty of browns and greens to give the air of a company that focuses on natural, organic, and environmentally friendly products.

You can back this up by adding a message that announces your intent to plant 1 tree for every pack sold while making it clear that you only use biodegradable packaging.

With a couple of taglines, a simple layout, and a carefully considered color scheme, you’ve just told your customers everything they need to know.

By adding an About Us page that tells the story of the company and its founders, along with some pictures of you, your staff, and the farms that grow your hemp, you’ve completed the message.

That’s a brand identity, and it’s one that consumers will be happy to invest in.

If you strip all of that away, keep everything generic, and don’t have any kind of ideology, you’re no different from the thousands of other companies being launched every day.

Think About Investors

Episode 006: Raising Capital for Your Business with Matt Higgins

You don’t need an investor to launch your business and unless you have some experience, connections, or a watertight business plan, investors just won’t be interested at that early stage.

You need to prove to them that you have something of worth, something that you have committed to.

If you haven’t invested your time and money into the business, how can you expect an investor to do the same?

Put the hours in, raise the capital, try to make it work, and if you still need an investor, at least you will have something to show them.  

Of course, just because you have the backing of a rich and successful investor, doesn’t mean the success of your business is guaranteed.

What it does mean, however, is that you have an experienced business person you can call upon when needed. It also means your business has been given a head start, and you can focus more of your time and attention on the things that matter.

More importantly, it’s proof that someone out there believes in what you’re doing. It’s validation, and with hard work and wise investments, it will likely grow into something that everyone can benefit from.

Take a look at the episode with Matt Higgins (linked above) for more information. If you’re a woman or member of the Latinx community, or you’re doing something that benefits this community, you should also check the episode with Maribel Lara.

Optimizing Your Online Business

Your business is up and running and it’s nearly time to start thinking about marketing, but first, there are some ways that you can optimize your website, improve your content, and increase conversions.

This is an ongoing process and it’s something that you need to do throughout the life of your business. Most of the work, however, takes place in those early stages when you’re first piecing the site together.

The Uncertainty Principle

The Uncertainty Principle is something I have mentioned several times through 2020’s episodes of This Week With Sabir. It’s a conception of my own creation but one that is based on information that every successful business owner and e-commerce guru knows.

The best way to understand it is to imagine that all of your prospective customers have a series of questions, and until they get answers to those questions, they won’t make a purchase.

If I click on an ad that shows a bottle of hot sauce and a promise of “The hottest sauce in the world”, I might have the following questions:

  • What makes it the hottest sauce in the world?
  • Does it meet my dietary requirements?
  • Does it use natural/organic/sustainable ingredients?
  • Who makes it, where are they based, and are they ethical?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How much is shipping?
  • How long will it take to arrive?

Maybe your site can answer all of those questions but not the final one. I might still order it, but I’ll probably think twice if it’s a birthday/Christmas gift, and if you have a slow delivery process, I’ll also be contacting you to complain after a week or two.

Until you answer all of these questions, there’s no guarantee that you will have my business. Your goal, therefore, is to answer as many of these questions as you can.

It might sound like common sense and to an extent, it is. But it’s something that so many businesses just don’t do.

I bought a lot of things online in 2020. We all did. And in that time, I can’t tell you how many sites I encountered that didn’t have the most basic of information.

Some sites expected me to get all the necessary information from the picture alone. Others assumed a headline/product name would be enough, and so many of them refused to tell me anythingabout shipping.

You can blame the pandemic, but in reality, the pandemic made it more essential to talk about shipping times.

Consumers wanted to know if companies were still active and if they were experiencing any delays.

You can’t remove that uncertainty by simply creating a Delivery Details page and then hiding it away in some obscure part of your website. The important information needs to be placed prominently, and superfluous info should be accessible via links in the footer or header.

Always include an FAQ, and make sure you have a general FAQ (including delivery times, returns, etc.,) and a product FAQ (including questions specific to the product).

Add Social Proof

Episode 013: Winning with Customer Video Experiences with Bernadette Butler

Social proof is part of the Uncertainty Principle, as your consumers will also want to know what other people think about the product.

How many times have you stumbled across a new brand or product and thought to yourself, “Is this legit?” or “does it actually work?” Reviews and video testimonials help to answer these questions and give consumers the confidence they need to buy your product and invest in your brand.

Of course, any old reviews won’t do and just because you’re using Instagram testimonials, doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to be genuine.

Consumers know that fake reviews exist. They know that there are apps and companies that can fake them and they’re pretty good at spotting them. If they see a review that looks blatantly fake, they will reject everything that you do and assume you’re not a legit company.

As an example, I recently saw an interesting product being advertised on Facebook and my professional curiosity was piqued.

The Facebook page had tens of thousands of likes and yet the advertisement didn’t have any comments, likes, or shares—something was amiss.

The link itself displayed a series of reviews, seemingly taken from Instagram. Every single one of them was in English and from a US/European reviewer, even though the actual review content read like it was created by Google Translate.

On visiting the site, I saw that the homepage was littered with reviews from young and attractive people who looked suspiciously like models. Some of them were female, but all of them had male names, and after reading through those names, I realized what was happening:

  • Harry Kane
  • Jordan Pickford
  • Dele Alli
  • Jamie Vardy
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Etc.,

If those names ring a bell, it’s because the “reviewers” were actually the entire England Soccer team.

The company, which clearly wasn’t based in the US, even though it claimed to be, had faked all of its reviews.

Apparently, they weren’t very confident in their knowledge of English names, and so they must have Googled some variant of “List of England people”, stumbled upon an England squad list, and just copy-pasted everything.

Consumers are bombarded with companies like this all of the time and it’s infuriating.

Even if you have just one or two suspicious reviews in a sea of genuine ones, it could be enough for customers to associate your company with suspicious companies like this, and that will scare them away.

Instead, always try to make your reviews as genuine as possible.

Give away free products, ask friends and family, and even pay influencers. As bad as fake reviews are, customers understand the difference between a blatantly fake user review and an influencer endorsement.

I also recommend getting an account with a website like Trustpilot, Reviews.io, and the countless other variants out there.

These platforms will actively invite your customers to leave a review for your brand/products. These can then be posted on your site and will also be indexed by Google.

Many new companies are wary of openly inviting customers to leave reviews.

What if they complain?

What if they all leave bad reviews?

The truth is, unless you have a terrible product and terrible service, you will get way more good reviews than bad reviews when you invite your customers.

Let’s use Trustpilot as an example.

Apple has not claimed its Trustpilot account, which means it doesn’t invite its customers to leave reviews. As a result, the only way for someone to leave a review is to visit Trustpilot, search for Apple.com, sign up for an account, and leave a review.

Generally, customers only jump through those hoops if they have something bad to say and want to vent their anger. It’s their way of getting back at the company and sparking them into action, and it’s why Apple.com has 65% 1/5 star reviews and an average score of 1.6/5.

Say what you want about Apple’s prices, but it’s one of the world’s biggest tech companies for a reason and it has excellent quality control and customer support.

Definitely not deserving of 1.6/5.

On the flip side, you have a company like B&H, which has claimed its profile, is asking for reviews and has accumulated 99% reviews that are either 4/5 or 5/5.

That’s because it’s sending review invites to everyone who places an order, and it’s usually sending them a few days or a week after they have received their product.

At this point, customers usually very happy with the company and are more willing to leave a good review.

It’s true that you will get some terrible reviews and that many of them won’t make sense.

While I was researching company profiles for this piece, I found negative reviews that had been left for the wrong company, along with a glut of bad reviews that complained about delivery delays during the pandemic!

I also saw a bad review from a confused customer who complained that a standard multi-vitamin didn’t help with his wife’s Alzheimer’s (even though it made no such claims) and someone who complained because they asked for a free product and didn’t receive it.

And these are not isolated issues, as most businesses get customers like this and reviews like that.

The good thing is that these silly and frustrating reviews are far outweighed by the genuine and helpful ones. Many review platforms also allow you to report unfair, defamatory, and fake reviews.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Conversions

Your conversion rate is important, as it measures how many people are actually buying your products. However, there are more important metrics to consider.

For me, two of the most important metrics for determining the success of a business are Bounce Rate and Page Time.

Both of these concern how much people are engaging with your content and if they are low, you have a problem that needs to be addressed.

Page Time tells you how long people spend on your page while Bounce Rate tells you how many people leave without clicking on another link.

To increase them, you need to create better content and make sure you are placing internal links throughout your website.

Every time you post a blog, make sure you’re linking to other relevant articles and including product/shop links. Every time you create a product page, be sure to link to similar products.

If you successfully improve these two metrics, your conversion rate will follow.

Improve Optimization

Episode 017: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) with Gajan Retnasaba

During episode 17 of This Week With Sabir, I sat down for a chat with the brilliant Gajan Retnasaba, who discussed some of his methods for optimizing ads and increasing conversions.

The idea is quite simple, but it’s also incredibly effective when used properly.

Most marketing platforms allow you to run several successive adverts that you can target toward similar groups of people, without actually hitting the exact same people.

This allows you to create two very similar ads that are different in only a few key ways. You can then see which one delivers the best conversions before replicating that process by testing the “winner” against another ad.

It’s like a “winner stays on” game of pool at your local club, only you’re using ads and landing pages instead of 9-ball frames.

For example, let’s say that you create a landing page advertising a bottle of hot sauce. You follow a process that you saw in a guide to writing landing pages, and you’re fairly confident that it is structured properly and efficiently.

You duplicate this landing page and swap the lead paragraph for something that is a little shorter and punchier.

By using Facebook Ads, you get 1,000 visits to each of these landing pages, being sure to target the same demographic at the same time.

After looking at your analytics, you discover that the first landing page has generated 300% more sign-ups, and so you get rid of the second page, duplicate the first one again, and change the second paragraph.

You’re constantly running tests, checking the analytics, making changes, and sticking with the most effective ad each time.

For this to work, you need to make sure that each page is given a fair chance to succeed.

For instance, if Page 1 has 10% conversions and Page 2 has 0%, you’re obviously going to side with the first one. But if you only sent 10 users to that page and only saw 1 conversion, more work needs to be done.

Larger sample sizes help to keep other variables out of the equation and ensure that the results are fair and that the only factor is the thing you changed.

This process doesn’t need to be limited to your marketing, either.

It can also be used on your website content.

Do more people click on your flagship product if you display it in the header or the sidebar? Do more people buy if you put an FAQ on the product page or the home page? Do you get more repeat customers if you send them a coupon with their order or through email a week later?

The internet is filled with advice on what sort of content works best and how you should approach your marketing, but it’s general advice, and the only way to learn about the specifics is to do the work yourself.

A/B testing is a fantastic way of doing this and can tell you a lot about your business, website, and customers.

Don’t Neglect The Real World

Offline companies are desperate to move their businesses online, but online businesses are quick to dismiss traditional retail.

You don’t need to sell your product in the real world and you definitely don’t need to open a retail location and pay the rent and staff costs associated with it.

However, you should be willing to connect with your customers in a more personal way.

When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you can speak with the shop assistants and ask questions about the products.

If your store is online-only, you can make that connection by offering Live Chat, consultations, and anything else that is relevant.

Tech companies, online pharmacies/doctors are a great example of this. With the click of a button, you can connect to an expert who will answer your question, provide recommendations, and discuss any concerns that you have.

You can also invite customers to take videos using your product, such as recipes where they use it as an ingredient.

Any time that you make more of a personal connection with your customers, it helps to put them at ease and increases their brand loyalty.

Time Over Money

If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in your new business, invest your time instead. If you have neither time nor money, it’s time to rethink your approach.

Christopher Hitchens famously said that “everyone has a book in them” (what many people seem to forget is that he finished this quote by insisting “that’s where it should stay”, but let’s not get into that here) and the same could be said for businesses.

Whether you’ve just finished watching an episode of Shark Tank or you’re plotting your success over a few glasses of wine, we all like to think we can launch a business.

If you ask the average person why they never take that leap, they’ll tell you it’s because they don’t have the capital.

It’s true that some businesses need a lot of money to succeed. If you’re creating a new messaging app or payment platform and you want to rival the likes of WhatsApp and PayPal, you better be prepared to re-mortgage your house and seek help from investors.

Most businesses, however, can be launched with a shoestring budget, providing you follow that investment with a lot of hard work.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world right now began with nothing but hard work and complete commitment.

Fitness expert Joe Yoon is a great example of that, as he built his personal training business from scratch and eventually became an influencer with millions of followers.

A few years ago, I spoke with an old friend of mine and, after I told him what I do for a living, he announced that he had, “always wanted to launch a business, but didn’t have the funds”.

This announcement came just after he regaled me with stories of a $20,000 cruise he had taken with his wife.

When I told him that most businesses could be launched with just a few grand, he announced that his idea definitely could not.

“I would need at least $500,000,” he said. After I insisted there are cheaper ways to do things if he was willing to do the work himself, he replied, “I can’t. It’s too high-skill for me to get involved.”

If your business idea is too expensive and out of your skill level, it’s the wrong idea for you.

You should be doing something that is within your budget and something that you’re actually familiar with.

Sometimes, the solution is easy; other times, it’s less obvious.

For example, I know of talented writers and artists who have created e-commerce businesses. They acknowledged that a large part of the process revolved around content creation and realized that if they did that part of the job themselves, they could save a small fortune.

What’s more, they had worked as freelancers for years, so they had the connections and knowledge needed to find low-cost developers and, in one case, to create the website and product themselves.

If you’re not a writer, designer, e-commerce expert, or developer, and you have no expertise running an online business, the answer isn’t as obvious, but there are still ways to make it work.

Maybe you’re a dab hand in the kitchen, in which case you could turn a favorite family recipe into the next big food product. You can make large batches in your home and save on the cost of sourcing it from elsewhere.

If you’re a personal trainer with a passion for supplements, you can use your knowledge to create/source products and your position to sell them.

You can create content, build your reputation, source ingredients, market products, deal with customers, check stock—when you invest time, you spend less money.

In most instances, you also get better results.

On December 10th, I joined an episode of Coffee & Commerce with Zubin Mowlavi, during which we fielded questions from ambitious and successful entrepreneurs.

One of the most memorable of these was Chef Branden, the founder and owner of Sauce City USA, a company that makes and sells hot sauce.

Chef Branden isn’t a writer, artist, or developer. He even admits that he’s not much of a chef, despite his moniker. However, he is an excellent self-promoter and has an infectious enthusiasm.

He’s the kind of person that investors want to invest in, and customers want to buy from. He is clearly passionate about his product.

This passion is his best asset, and he uses it to promote his brand through TV, radio, and countless events. He does the work of entire PR agencies and because it’s his business and his passion, he doesn’t spend a cent.

In many ways, that enthusiasm and willingness are more valuable than any industry knowledge, connections, or content.

You know your product better than anyone and you also know what kind of message you want to send to customers. You’re more incentivized than a contracted employee will ever be, and you know exactly what direction to take your business.

Stop worrying about raising capital and stop undervaluing your input, because your time and hard work is the most valuable thing that your business has.

Marketing Your Online Business

It doesn’t matter how great your product is or how nice your website looks, without an effective marketing campaign, you’re not going anywhere.

The good news is that it has never been easier to market your products and there is more opportunity than ever. The bad news is that competition is fierce and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could get very costly very quickly.

I’ve seen small business owners throw thousands of dollars at ineffective Facebook and Google campaigns, usually because they don’t know how to target and make crazy assumptions about their customers.

They assume, for instance, that getting a customer to their website is the only thing that matters. It’s as if they believe that as soon as someone clicks an ad, they are ready to buy.

That’s rarely the case.

Consumers click ads because they’re curious. They click ads because they want more information. And even when they are ready to buy, they still want to make sure the product is affordable, the site is secure, and all their other needs are met.

Keep this in mind as you read through this section. I will cover some of the main aspects of marketing your business. You don’t need to do all of these if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and it’s best to go all-out with a few than to half-ass many.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO

Episode 003: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips with Neil Patel

SEO—the three letters guaranteed to send a new business owner into a mad panic.

I’ve seen business owners invest most of their budget into SEO, believing it to be some kind of alien process that they couldn’t possibly manage on their own.

They get involved with the creation of YouTube videos, Facebook posts, packaging design, and everything else, but when it comes to SEO, they just throw money at whatever agency offers them the cheapest price and makes the grandest claims.

The truth is, SEO isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Google’s algorithm is certainly very complicated and there are a lot of things that it considers, but as a business owner, the only thing you need to think about is creating good content.

Google wants to give the highest rankings to the best content.

As an example, let’s imagine that you write an article on the nutritional benefits of coffee.

You’re an expert on the subject and you discuss the compounds that coffee contains, along with the ways that these interact with the body, and the potential implications they have on your health.

Google knows it’s a good article because of the following:

  • It is long and informative
  • It contains original material
  • It uses relevant keywords and discusses relevant topics
  • It is written by an expert and/or has quotes from accredited experts
  • It links to research articles and studies on authoritative websites
  • It has many incoming links from sites referencing it

If you’re focusing on writing the best content, all of that stuff will come naturally. They are points that every writer will hit without thinking about it, and Google knows this.

The problem is, Google doesn’t read every article. It doesn’t have a team of critics checking every article and determining which one is genuine and which one is junk.

As a result, it has no way of knowing the difference between your article, and one written by a blogger who has emulated all of those points, from stuffing the article with the right keywords to paying for links on high-authority sites.

We all know what Google wants to see and we have a fairly good idea of how Google ranks pages, so SEO experts essentially just try to replicate this process as best they can.

But if you don’t know anything about backlinks and authority links; if you don’t have the funds to hire an SEO expert, the only thing that matters is that you create the best content you can.

Why worry about replicating the process when you can do it organically? It might not happen as quickly and it might not be as effective, but you’ll get there eventually.

It also helps to future-proof your content.

I’ve spoken with webmasters who have been in a complete panic because their rankings have dropped following a Google update. After querying them on their methods, I learn that they paid for backlinks on a host of questionable sites, paid cheap writers to produce low-quality non-sensical content, and essentially just tried to cheat the system.

Google doesn’t like this process, and it is getting better at finding ways to punish webmasters who use it.

So, just create good content, advertise it through your social media pages, and let everything else happen naturally.

If you happen to be paying for a PR campaign with some online news sites, be sure to include a link back to your website, but don’t worry about paying for links on directories and guest post websites.

If you don’t have the means to write high-quality content yourself, find someone who can. Hiring a good writer who knows how to produce valuable content is more budget-friendly than hiring an SEO agency.

Of course, this is a simplistic way of looking at things, but I find that it helps new business owners to think this way.

It means they’re not running scared at the first mention of SEO and they don’t have to worry about paying for a service that they can’t really afford.

Google Ads And Bing Ads

Episode 001: Google Ads with Isaac Rudansky

In a world obsessed with social media marketing, it’s easy to overlook Google Ads, but you do so at your peril. It remains one of the most effective ways to market your products and services and it works for most types of businesses.

Google serves billions of ads every day and these ads are shown across a variety of platforms, including:

  • The Google Ads Network: Every site that has signed up for Google AdSense agrees to show relevant banner and text ads. These work on cookies installed on the user’s computer, so if you’ve been searching for premium coffee, you may continue to see ads for coffee retailers even if you’re visiting a sports or clothing website.
  • Google Search: When you search for specific terms, Google displays all relevant results below a series of ads. These ads are placed at the very top.
  • YouTube: Don’t forget, Google also owns YouTube, and you can use Google Ads to showcase text and banner ads on the YouTube platform.
  • Shopping Ads: Arguably the most effective form of advertising on Google, shopping ads display specific products from your store. If you’re not sure how these ads work, simply do a search for a term like “organic coffee”. Upon doing so, you’ll see a series of icons at the top of the search results, each showing a specific product and including an image, price, brief description, and retailer.

There are many nuances to Google Ads, and it can be hard to wrap your head around these if you’re not accustomed to ad networks and to online marketing in general.

It’s why so many business owners revert to hiring Google experts, but while this can be an effective way to promote your business, it’s also expensive.

Imagine, for instance, that you have $1,000 to spend every month and, from that, you generate $2,000 worth of sales. This means that for every $1 you spend; you’re getting $2 in revenue.

If you add the price of a Google Ads expert to the mix, they could cost you anywhere from $200 to $1,000 (their price is typically based on scale, so the more you spend and the more ads you run, the more they will charge), thus removing some, most, or all of your profit.

Instead, try to keep it simple and manage the account yourself. Even if you spend just an hour or two a week and keep the budget low, you will gradually learn how to make it work for your business.

You might not get the same results, but you also won’t be paying for the pleasure, so it balances out.

If you’re on a budget but can spare at least 2 hours a week to manage your own account, just follow these steps:

  1. Learn: Watch the video with Isaac Rudansky, linked at the top of this section. It was the very first episode of This Week With Sabir and it covered everything you need to know about managing a Google Ads account.
  2. Spend: If you can afford it, set your budget to at least $10 a day. This will trigger a notification asking you to schedule a meeting with a Google Ads Specialist (availability and requirements may differ from region to region). These account managers are provided by Google and are completely free. They will help you to set up your account and create effective ads.
  3. Be Creative: If you don’t have the budget to spend $10 a day, you can get creative with your ads. I know of a small business owner who created an ad for a niche keyword that generated no more than $2 a day in account spend. Regardless of the budget, there simply wasn’t enough traffic to exceed that amount. But when he set the budget to over $10, he still triggered the account specialist.
  4. Stick with Smart Shopping Ads: If you sell a product, shopping ads should be your first focus. These nearly always generate a positive Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS), and I’ve even seen instances where companies are hitting 12x, which means they get $12 in revenue for every $1 spent.
  5. Use Landing Pages: Don’t just send customers to your home page and hope for the best. You need to direct them to a page that is relevant to the ad they clicked, one that contains enticing headlines, engaging copy, and attractive images. Getting them to click the ad is just the first step and there’s a long way to go before you convince them to complete the purchase.
  6. Use Coupons: Google Ads always has some kind of coupon available for new members. Usually, it offers a couple of hundred dollars for free when you spend a certain amount. Other times it will double your initial spend, to a limit. Run a quick search for coupon codes and if you can’t find any, join Google Ads, don’t spend anything, and wait for the inevitable offer to arrive by email.

While some new business owners understand the merits of using Google, most of them ignore Bing entirely.

It’s true that Bing has a small share of the market, but it’s a pretty big market.

Put it this way, if you launch a company that offers services to people all over the world, would you ignore the United States in favor of every other country? Of course not. The US might have just 5% of the global population, but that 5% still accounts for over 325 million potential customers.

China, Europe, and India might give you plenty of sales to sustain yourself, but you’d be reckless if you ignored so many potential customers.

It’s a similar story with Bing vs Google. The former accounts for between 5 and 6% of the total monthly searches in the United States, but that’s still over 6 billion searches!

I have seen businesses get pretty poor results using Bing, especially when compared to the results provided by Google. But it really all depends on how you use it and what you’re selling.

Some businesses find that they get much higher conversions on Bing while spending less money.

Bing, like Google, also offers coupons for new members. By using both of these platforms, you could get up to $500 of ads by spending just $200 in your first month.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is considered to be somewhat of a relic, but it’s just as effective and relevant as it always has been.

It can be frustrating for businesses inside the EU, as well as those marketing to consumers in the EU, but the truth is that you don’t need daily emails and an avalanche of offers to make this work.

Effective email marketing boils down to the following:

  1. Offer value and give your readers an incentive to open the email and not to unsubscribe from your list.
  2. Don’t push products and promotions with every single email.
  3. Always remarket.

The last one is the most important.

In simple terms, remarketing is the act of marketing to people who already know about your brand.

If they have bought before, you’re encouraging them to buy again, whether that means making a repeat order, purchasing refills, or upgrading their subscription.

If they haven’t ordered before, you’re just trying to convince them to take that step.

It’s something that many companies don’t do. They mistakenly consider remarketing to be a waste, and there are usually two reasons for this.

Firstly, they don’t want to market to people who were going to purchase anyway.

It seems like a waste, but the truth is, just because someone is on the brink of buying doesn’t mean they will, and just because someone has bought before doesn’t mean they will buy again.

Think about how many purchases you’ve made in the last year. How many of those companies did you bookmark and return to time and time again? Probably very few.

We’re bombarded with so many ads from so many companies that we don’t even remember the ones we like.

Secondly, they don’t market to customers who abandoned their carts because they’re worried that those customers hate their brand or find their products too expensive.

But while that applies to a minority, the majority probably just had an issue with their credit card or had second thoughts because their budget was stretched too thin.

Sometimes people are just indecisive.

By using email marketing, you can remind them of your brand and your products, potentially catching them when they are a little more decisive.

If that fails, target them again and offer them a discount. Without that discount, you might lose them, and if a lower margin is all it takes to increase your conversions, then so be it!

Social Media Marketing

Facebook marketing is a must for all new businesses.

The great thing about Facebook is that it works for any business and any product. It doesn’t matter if your target demographic is 18 or 80, there are over 1 billion active users on Facebook, and they span all age groups and interests.

Unless your product is specifically targeted at technophobic, Facebook-hating seniors who don’t have access to the internet, you need to start using Facebook Ads.

To the average user, Facebook is a social media network designed to help friends, families, and coworkers connect. To everyone else, Facebook is a platform built entirely around marketing and it’s incredibly efficient at this.

You can target users based on everything from their likes and dislikes to their age and location.

More importantly, you can use it to remarket to existing customers and customers who have clicked ads and perused products without making a commitment.

I recommend creating a Facebook page for your business and then trying to build slowly from there.

Invest a little money every month and study every single ad that you run using the Facebook Pixel. Be cautious, careful, and analytical—in a few months, you’ll have a firm understanding of what works for you and where your money should be invested.

Don’t get too caught up in page likes, either. Many new businesses throw money at page likes generation just to build a following that looks good to prospective customers. But it’s just a waste of money.

You could pay as little as $0.01 to get a like from a user in India or Bangladesh and as much as $1 for a like from an account in the US, and if you’re going through Facebook Ads, these likes will be from genuine accounts.

However, Facebook gets those likes by targeting users that are more likely to like a page when they see it. The problem with these users is that they have already liked hundreds of other pages, so your posts just won’t appear in their timeline.

In other words, you could spend $1,000 just to get 1,000 page likes from US Facebook accounts, and there’s no guarantee that any of those people will like, share, or engage with your posts.

Instead, use that money to run ads that point to your website and promote engagement.

For instance, you could create a competition that asks people to like the post/page for a free competition entry.

In doing so, not only will you increase consumer engagement, but you’ll also benefit from organic engagements when their friends see your post.

Just make sure you focus the initial advertisement on people in your target demographic.

If you’re worried about the initial low page likes and how this will look to prospective customers, share the page with your friends and family members and ask them to do the same.

This is usually enough to generate 100+ likes. They are vanity likes, as they probably won’t engage, but at least it’ll look more like an active account.

I would also recommend investing in YouTube and TikTok advertising.

You can do this one of two ways. You can either pay existing influencers to promote your product (discussed below) or you can create videos yourself.

If you opt for the latter, just make sure that your videos are helpful and informative, and don’t simply try to sell a product or a service at every opportunity.

Many new businesses make the mistake of treating social media like a free marketing platform.

They spam their accounts with discounts, product announcements, and other promotional material, seemingly oblivious to the fact that people don’t use social media just to be bombarded with ads.

They see enough ads every time they browse the internet. The last thing they want is for those ads to be organically populating their timelines and subscriber lists.

Offer value, whether it’s a guide on how to use your products or products like it, or information on things that are relevant to your industry.

Eventually, you will build a following of people that respect your brand, believe in your message, and are willing to buy what you’re selling.

That’s where the 97-3 rule comes into play.

It states that you should be offering value 97% of the time and selling 3% of the time.

That way, the bulk of your content serves to draw new customers in and gain their respect, while the rest sells them a product or service.

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Influencer Marketing

Episode 018: Successful Influencer Marketing with Aron Levin

We’re living in a golden age for influencers. They command massive followings and have incredible engagement.

As a brand, you can take advantage of that by giving them money to market your products.

Generally, an influencer with 1 million followers will cost you much less than a mainstream celebrity with a following of the same size. Influencers also tend to have higher engagement, as they form a close relationship with their followers and are seen as trustworthy.

Influencer marketing can be expensive, but you don’t need to hire big names to make it work. Every time someone rejects influencer marketing on the basis that, “Celebs charge a lot of money”, I direct them to Cameo.

Cameo is a platform that connects influencers and celebs to their fans. You can pay your favorite artist, athlete, actor, or influencer a fixed sum of money in exchange for a quick video message.

Most Cameo gigs are well wishes for Birthdays, Christmas, Weddings, and Anniversaries. But some celebs are perfectly happy to use their time to promote products.

And even if you don’t go directly through Cameo, it still gives you a good idea of what celebs in your industry charge for their time.

At the time of writing, for instance, I found Hall of Fame athletes and rock stars charging less than $400. You can get megastars like Floyd Mayweather Jr. for $1,000, and some influencers are selling their time for less than $10!

It seems crazy, but it’s worth noting that you’re not buying their loyalty and complete devotion. You’re just paying for the time it takes them to whip out their phone and shoot a 30-second video.

Even if they’re only charging $10, it’s $10 for 5 minutes’ work, which is a good return in anyone’s book.

The goal of influencer marketing is not to trick people into believing that Floyd Mayweather is a really big fan of your products.

Everyone knows how ads work these days and most people are familiar with Cameo, so no one’s going to believe that.

The goal is to catch their attention as they scroll through their social media feeds. If they see their favorite influencer or celebrity in the first few seconds of your ad, they’ll stop and pay attention.

You’ll have their undevoted attention for a brief time, and if you use that wisely, you could turn that curiosity into a sale. At the very least, you’ll have the chance to cement your brand in their consciousness, which will make it easier to market to them in the future.

Content Creation

Episode 005: B2B Marketing with Habib Salo

The best businesses post content every single day across multiple platforms. How can you possibly hope to emulate that as a small business operated by just one or two people?

It’s actually quite easy and it involves creating something known as “pillar content”.

For example, let’s imagine that you have done all of the hard work, sourced a high-quality product, and now have an online business selling premium coffee across the United States.

You decide to open as many social media accounts as possible and because you don’t have much money, you film videos yourself and provide all written content yourself.

To begin with, you shoot a half-hour video titled, “Twenty Little Known Benefits of Coffee”. The video takes an hour to shoot, a couple of hours to research, and a couple of hours to edit.

Once you have that content, you write a 5,000 blog post based on the same title and using the same research and ideas in the video.

You now have a video that works great on YouTube and an extensive guide that will look great on your website. Both of these can also be linked on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But it doesn’t end there. Using that content, you can:

  • Create 20x video segments for your 1 video, each highlighting a specific benefit
  • Extract 20x 500-word blogs from your 1 article
  • Take 100x screenshots of the video and overlay these with quotes from the article/video
  • Extract 100x sentences/paragraphs from the article

From 1 video, you now hundreds of pieces of content. Those images and quotes can fill your Instagram feed with daily posts for the next month; the video segments are ideal for Facebook and TikTok; the written extracts can go on Twitter; the blogs can be posted to Medium and LinkedIn.

You can do all of these things yourself, or you can hire someone to do the work for you.

A skilled writer can knock-out a few thousand words in a couple of hours, and if you provide them with the video on which to base their content, you don’t even need to give them detailed guidelines.

A video editor can turn your rough cuts into a clean and polished piece, before extracting multiple shorter videos from that long one. And any freelancer can copy-paste content needed for images and social media posts.

With a little initiative and some help from one or two freelancers, you’ve just turned your site into a content-producing machine!

This is a process that Habib Salo used to revolutionize his B2B company’s social media pages.

In the beginning, he admits to not really knowing much about the process and to be uncertain and awkward in front of the camera. But he persisted, he practiced, and eventually, it became second nature to him.

His social media pages now produce huge quantities of quality content and help to drive massive sales to his company.

Click the link at the top of this segment for more info.

Marketing Your Personal Brand

Many of the topics addressed during 2020’s episodes of This Week With Sabir dealt with personal branding. It’s a little different from building a business brand, but many of the fundamentals remain the same.

To summarize, if you’re trying to establish yourself on social media, just keep the following in mind:

Provide Value

Social media is littered with low-quality content and severely misguided young influencers. Youngsters see that their idols are posting incredibly basic content about their lives (from what they eat and wear to their two cents on current events) and so they follow suit.

But just because millions care about what Kim K did with her day, doesn’t mean they will have the same enthusiasm for someone they don’t know.

If you want to reach a point where people care about you and what you do, you need to provide value. That value leads to a following, and eventually, you will build trust with those followers.

Think about it this way:

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wonder what [insert your favorite celeb] eats”? Now compare that to how many times you’ve thought, “I wonder what that random dude I bumped into on the street ate for breakfast.”

The former is interesting because you admire that person and you want to know more about them. The latter is painstakingly boring.

It’s the difference between an interesting revelation discovered during a late-night talk show, and when your friend insists on telling you about their dreams in fine detail.

Be Authentic

It doesn’t matter what you decide to do and how you position yourself, it’s important to always remain authentic.

No one likes fake people, and everyone knows how to spot them.

You can put on a fake smile, exaggerate your personality, and try to be yourself on a really good day, but don’t be something you’re not.

If you’re dry, cynical, introverted, and miserable, don’t pretend to be peppy and extroverted. Own it, be yourself, and it will pay off.

Build A Roadmap

It’s okay to change course. Influencers do it all of the time. But it’s best to know what you are hoping to achieve and to base your career on that.

For instance, if your goal is to become an established gaming influencer so you can get free review copies and eventually launch your own gaming company, you probably shouldn’t start with comedy skits and acoustic covers.

Start as you mean to go on, as that will create some consistency and ensure you build a relevant following.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to do the same thing in every video. It doesn’t mean you need to stream Call of Duty day after day, just because that’s how you began.

You can venture into reviews, you can stream other games, and you can even talk about industry news or do anything else you want. Just try to make sure that your content is relevant to the bulk of your audience and will be appreciated by future followers and sponsors.

Be Different

As with business, you don’t need to be 100% unique to make it as an influencer. However, if you want to be the biggest and the best, you either need to do something that is at least slightly different, or you have to do it better than everyone else.

If you’re stuck for ideas, see what other creators are doing. Look for something that is relatively new and something that you can add your own spin to.

Embrace Trends

YouTube is a great example of how quickly trends can change.

Think about all the giants of the platform that have come and gone. In the early years, it was all about comedy clips, and this is when FRED and Smosh reigned supreme. In later years, Ray William Johnson led the way for clip shows and also helped to influence the rise in commentary channels.

Since then, we’ve seen trends for animated comedy clips, music clips, gaming streams, react videos, and countless others. The ones who have held onto their followers and have continued to grow are the ones who have adapted along with the trends.

Don’t Buy Likes

As tempting as it might be, don’t buy likes or followers.

It’s easy to spot and advertisers are wise to your tricks and cons.

They no longer focus just on follower counts. They focus on engagement, and in particular on the number of people commenting. They’ll also check to make sure those comments are from genuine accounts, as opposed to just conversations between your friends and a few bots.

More importantly, buying likes and followers could lead to your account being banned.

Don’t Be Controversial For Controversy Sake

In the early days of YouTube, there were a lot of videos that passed as acceptable but would now lead to channels being suspended and accounts being canceled.

We’ve come a long way in those 15 years or so, and those changes have been for the better.

However, we’re still seeing influencers who court controversy in the hope that they’ll get some PR and that will boost their channel.

It’s effective. After all, if something is controversial, more people will watch it, share it, and comment on it. News sites may also cover it and link back to the original post/video. All of this feeds into the algorithm and triggers growth.

However, it’s no longer as effective as it once was, and it could also lead to your accounts being banned and your reputation being destroyed.

Even if you make it through unscathed, that controversy will linger for the rest of your career and could impact your chances of getting sponsored.

Think About Your Post Career

If you’re an athlete, musician, or anyone else who isn’t guaranteed a long career and doesn’t have a Plan B, it’s important to use your current success to build a future career.

This is something I discussed with Kyle Mauch during the last episode of This Week With Sabir in 2020. I recommend taking a look if you’re in this boat, as there is a lot to cover.

Don’t Give Up

That’s it—the complete guide to launching an online business in 2021.

It’s long, but what do you expect? Building your own e-commerce business is not quick and it’s definitely not easy. It takes time—there will be sweat, tears, and maybe even tantrums.

You need to persist.

It’s true that 20% of businesses fail in the first year and that 50% have collapsed by year 5. When you hear statistics like this, it’s easy to be dismissive of your own slow sales and sluggish growth.

But how many of those failed businesses were launched on a whim following some slapdash idea?

How many involved people just throwing money at their passion and expecting everything to work out?

How many actually did their research and strived to clear whatever obstacles were placed in front of them?

Businesses fail all of the time. but when you focus only on the entrepreneurs who did their research, strived to overcome, and had the means to make it work, the picture is considerably less bleak.

Several times during the 2020s This Week With Sabir episodes, I referred to Kitchen Nightmares.

You could be forgiven for thinking I was some obsessed Gordon Ramsay fan, but it just helped to illustrate my point, and it’s a point I will reiterate here.

Think of all the failing restaurants that Gordon visited. 9 times out of 10, the owners were sinking obscene amounts of money into a business that was slowly burying itself with each passing day.

Rather than facing the truth and admitting their faults, they buried their heads, re-mortgaged their home for the 5th time, and continued throwing good money at bad ideas.

Bad reviews? Just jealous competitors.

Gordon says the food is bad? What does an award-winning, world-renowned chef know? We have a few old customers who love our food.

Décor is diabolical? But our customers loved it back in the 70s and we haven’t changed anything!

To succeed in the world of business, you need to take their examples and avoid doing any of the things that they do. Find the issues, deal with them, and don’t let stubbornness, denial, or stupidity get the better of you.

Be prepared to listen to expert advice, and if something is going wrong and sales are low, stop worrying about what worked before, accept that times have changed, and do something else!

If you have genuinely tried everything, your business still isn’t working, and you’re accumulating loans like they are business cards, it could be time to call it a day.

Persistence is good to a certain point, but you don’t need to go down with that sinking ship!

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