It’s time for a change and … you’re trembling with fear. Will you be able to translate your business success offline to online business success?
All those years feeling like you know how to run a business — like you understand the ground rules and you have a process for playing by them and winning — gone.
After running an offline business, you have decided to build a business online.
Moving from offline to online business isn’t a simple switch, because what works offline may not work online — at all. You have to learn a whole new set of skills.
Related: How to Build Your Business Online, The Ultimate Guide
So is there an offline to online business model you can follow?
The good news is that you’re way ahead of people who have never built a business at all.
Even though you’ll need to learn new skills, new approaches, and a new way of generating revenue, you’ll do this with confidence, because you’re building on the foundation of your previous success.
Let’s look at how successful offline business owners make the leap and become successful online business owners.
The 3 offline business skills you’ll use online
You bring a lot to the table with your offline business skills!
Let’s look at the gifts your offline business experience brings.
1. You’re comfortable asking for what you (or your product) is worth
It’s pretty tough to be successful in business if you can’t get past the “asking for money in exchange for something of value” challenge. If you’ve had business success, you are comfortable with this basic skill that makes some people squirm.
This will come in handy when you are creating, pricing, and offering your products and services online.
2. You know how to find clients and customers
Business success comes from finding buyers for your offers — and you have mastered the whole process:
- Pinpointing your ideal customer
- Reaching out and developing prospects through offline marketing
- Closing sales with a conversation about value
- Serving customers well so they come back for more
You’ll spend lots of time looking for the right prospects online too. The method you’ll use to find them will be different, but the overall process from offline to online business networking is the same.
There’s a direct line from offline to online marketing — you’ll just need to add a few skills. More on that in a moment.
3. You know how to create offers people buy
You have mastered the art and science of creating an offer that people want and are willing to pay for. This is no small feat!
It takes guts to make an offer and you are no stranger to the feeling of vulnerability that comes with offering your product or service to the world. You have felt that fear and done it anyway.
The 7 new online business skills you’ll need to build
You probably arrived online knowing you’d have a lot to learn.
Smart brands today are taking the “omnichannel approach” — combining offline and online efforts.
(It’s sometimes called the “o2o concept” — see that? You just learned some fancy jargon. 😉 )
Some online success stories are even moving in the opposite direction! They’re taking their online success to their offline efforts.
For you, though, let’s look at the seven skills to focus on mastering first as you evolve your offline to online business success process.
1. Building a clear, engaging, high-converting website
You may be used to running a storefront or an office. Even if you have a home office, you know your environment influences how people see your value.
Multiply that by 1,000 to understand the importance of your website to your online business!
Here’s the thing — online, your website is your business.Your website is your address, your store window, your sales displays. It attracts customers. It runs the sales conversation.Click To Tweet
No pressure, right?
2. Gathering an audience
With your online business, you’ll use what might be unfamiliar tools like:
- Content marketing, where you’ll offer helpful, useful information in the form of blog posts, audio, or video — or some combination of all three
- Social media marketing, where you’ll spread the word about what you do on platforms like Facebook, where people already congregate online
- Guest appearances on other websites and podcasts, to help spread the word about how you serve your ideal customers
Online, you must keep beating the drum of your business so prospective customers hear and respond.
3. Creating opt-in incentives to encourage sign-ups to an email list
As you get the word out about your online offerings, you’ll want to gather that audience of prospects in one place where you can communicate with them.
The best place to gather your prospects is on an email list.
And the best way to encourage people to add their names to your email list is to offer a useful opt-in incentive that’s so enticing, they’re willing to invite you into their inbox in order to get it.
Once you’ve built an email list, you’ll use the next new skill to build revenues.
4. Using email marketing to communicate
An email list will give you a channel you can use to engage your readers, serve them up helpful information and resources, and make offers from time to time.
Email marketing is a minefield. You don’t want to email too often — but it won’t work if you don’t email often enough.
Finding that perfect email marketing balance is one of the big jobs a new online business owner must tackle.
5. Building enticing online offers
For the most part, you don’t have the benefit of knowing your online customers personally.
You’ll need to use “stealth” methods to understand their needs and build products and services that help meet them. Fortunately …The online world is chock-full of helpful ways to gather intel about what your prospects really want.Click To Tweet
Here they are, from the most basic to the most sophisticated and complex:
- Ask people to reply to your email messages. You’ll see their answers right in your inbox.
- Answer comments on your blog. Keep the content conversation going.
- Ask questions and read answers on social media platforms. Find out what your followers are really thinking!
- Mine competitors’ audiences. It has never been easier to look behind the scenes of the businesses you compete against. For more on how to do this, read Competitor Analysis Tools: 14 Quick Ways to Compare Websites.
- Create an online poll. Be sure to ask some open-ended questions and give respondents a space to answer in their own words — these words can be mined to write marketing copy that immediately resonates!
- Review your site and social analytics to understand real behavior. Numbers don’t lie — cross-check what you’re hearing with hard data to best understand what’s really happening in your online business.
6. Creating sales conversations
When moving from offline to online business, we don’t have operators standing by or a charming salesperson to shake hands, make a new friend, and smooth the way for our prospects to become customers.
Online, the sales conversation is virtual.
And it happens one of two ways: through a “launch” or with an “evergreen” offer.
Online launches follow a familiar pattern:
- You work hard over several weeks to several months to build a list of people who will be interested in your upcoming offer.
- In the days before you make your product available, you serve up helpful education that gives prospects a glimpse at how their lives or businesses will improve once they have your product or service.
- You make your product available for a limited time — and possibly to a limited number of people.
- You write sales copy that makes your offer’s value crystal clear.
- You offer incentives for buying now.
- You “close the door” and stop selling the product or service.
Evergreen products come in two flavors:
- The on-the-shelf product that sits on a Shop or Store page and can be purchased 24/7.
- The product that’s made available to a limited number of people once they’ve moved through some kind of funnel, like a Facebook ad > a webinar > a sales page.
Believe it or not, you can actually use both of these techniques for a single product or service.
You can make an offer available with the evergreen method that moves prospects through an educational funnel — and combine it with the launch model, where your offers are available for a limited time, often with some kind of bonus content.
But that is a high-level online business skill. 🙂
7. Improving your results through iteration
As I mention in my short book Proceed with Confidence, the most successful online business owners I know approach business as a game they’re playing.
They take this game very seriously. But they play it and watch what works and what doesn’t. They don’t get emotionally invested in the outcome. They watch, take note, and make improvements as needed.
Want to learn more about offline to online business building?
Grab my free Online Business Success Roadmap for a step-by-step walkthrough of the Plan & Grow BIG approach to online business building.
Note: This article was first published on November 22, 2017 and has been updated with new information and resources.