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How to Start an Online Business and Conquer its #1 Challenge

Discover how to start an online business with the Plan & Grow BIG approach — it will help you conquer the #1 challenge online business owners face!

Wondering how to start an online business that gives you the income, freedom, and recognition you want?

But …

  • Maybe you aren’t sure where to begin
  • Possibly you’re confused about how it all works
  • Perhaps you’re feeling a little overwhelmed

(To say the least, right?)

Here are the 4 stages you’ll go through as you start your online business

Step 1: Plan. Pinpoint your ideal customer; get your branding in place, and map out your first online offer. Here’s how to write a winning online business startup plan.

Step 2: Build. Set up your website; create your first offer, and put together an initial funnel.

Step 3: Implement. Make your offers live; grow your email list; discover which launch techniques work best for your audience.

Step 4: Grow. Work to improve your conversion rates and add more revenue streams. You’ll move through steps 1-4 as you develop each new line of business.

Sounds pretty simple, right? However …

The rules are different online

Offline businesses change at a slower pace.

Online? Change happens fast. What worked well last year may need to be overhauled and rebuilt.

It’s exhilarating! And it can make you feel like you’re never really standing on solid ground.

Because everything changes so quickly online, you may feel like your learning never ends. Like there’s always a new tactic to master, a new promotional activity to try, a new A/B test to run.

But here’s the thing — this unsettled feeling? It’s the #1 challenge to your online business success.

Let’s tackle it right now.

(Psst: want to know more about how this works?)

Grab my Online Business Success Roadmap so you can build your business with the four stages of online business growth — and say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed once and for all.

The #1 challenge to your online business success

I have heard it in the voices of some of my coaching clients. I have seen it in their eyes, too (I coach by video!).

They hit the Wall of Overwhelm.

They’re overcome by everything they have to do — and it paralyzes them.

They want to know how to start an online business … but there’s so much to learn, they feel like throwing in the towel before they even start.

Many of my coaching clients have already had some business success. Sometimes a lot of success! But often, that success has happened in an offline business. They find their offline success doesn’t translate online.

I get it.

After almost 20 years running a very successful offline business, I brought my business online. And I ran straight into that Wall of Overwhelm.


I spent years recovering. Years assembling an online business that worked. And then years teaching the process to the community at Copyblogger.

I’d like to save you some effort and some time. You don’t need to run straight into the Wall of Overwhelm like I did.

Do this instead …

How to start an online business and grow it — in four stages

The beautiful thing about breaking down the process of starting an online business into four distinct parts is this:

You can ignore 75% of the information you see about online business.

At any given moment, you’re in only one of these four stages.

I encourage you to focus on mastering the tasks and dealing with the mindset challenges of your particular stage only. Doing this will eliminate the feeling of overwhelm and allow you to step into a leadership role in your online business with ease.

Step 1: The Plan Stage

In the Plan stage, you’ll focus on:

And that is it. You don’t need to study A/B testing. You don’t need to take a course on running an affiliate program. You don’t need to read a book about growing your eight-figure online business.

Because you’re in the early days. And that’s OK!

Conquer overwhelm by ignoring everything that’s outside the stage you’re in. Focus on mastering these handful of activities.

You’re laying a foundation. Let’s make it a solid one!

Step 2: The Build Stage

In the Build stage you’ll:

In this stage, you’re going from thinking about your online business to making it tangible.

This can feel like a huge leap.

Related: Minimum Viable Product Examples: Build the Core of Your Online Business This Month

Step 3: The Implement Stage

In the Implement stage your focus is on:

In this stage, you’re “putting your business out there” in a BIG way.

And you’re beginning to gather some of the most important results. Yes, you’re starting to make money! But (almost) more importantly, you’re gathering data.

Data on what your audience responds to.

Data on which efforts work best to grow your list.

Data on what sells — and what doesn’t.

And when you discover what works reliably, you’re ready to move on to the next stage.

This goes beyond how to start an online business. In the next stage you’re going to grow what you started.

Step 4: The Grow Stage

You arrive at the Grow stage when you’ve been through all of the previous stages and have come out victorious. Congratulations!

You’ve hit on at least one offer that converts well. You’ve grown your list. You’re ready for more.

You’ll focus on:

In the Grow stage, you’ll work to expand your revenue, your reach, and possibly your staff.

You’ll move through the PLAN, BUILD, IMPLEMENT, and GROW stages as you develop each new revenue stream.

This is how to start an online business that will grow and change as your goals do.

But there’s more to it!

Get your free roadmap

Discover what to focus on in each stage when you get your free Online Business Success Roadmap. This handy checklist will put the four stages of online business growth at your fingertips to help guide your journey.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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