Designing Your Ideal Online Business

How do you design your ideal online business? One that’s a good fit for your schedule, temperament and financial needs?

Most people aren’t at a place in their lives where they have the know-how to “design” an online business right out of the gate. Instead, they use what they have, make some sales… and adjust going forward.

Most fail forward. Does that make sense? They try something, it doesn’t work so well, so they adjust. And adjust, and adjust, and adjust. A dozen adjustments or so down the line, they find themselves with a winning solution.

That solution isn’t for the entire business, either. It’s just for one segment of it.

This process repeats itself over and over again.

That’s how success, growth, and everything else comes for most people in the online business world.

Learning the Pros and Cons from Experience

We know every business or business model has its pros and cons. That goes for online businesses, too. In the beginning, I thought, “I can work from anywhere in the world… as long as I have an Internet connection.”

That was a pro.

Experience showed me something a bit different. The con. I’m talking about slow or spotty internet connections that made doing the work frustrating and take twice as long to complete. That caused a significant amount of stress that could have otherwise been avoided.

Over the past two decades, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the pros and cons of many different business models. Experience is the key word because thinking about how you’ll handle adversity and actually handling it are two different things.

For example, you decide to get in better shape.  Saying NO to your high-calorie favorites is much easier when you imagine yourself doing it. Then the day(s) come when you really have to do it.

On the front end, you see yourself saying, “No!” You see yourself overcoming the resistance.

Then, experience serves up a healthy dose of reality and realize how hard it’s really going to be.

I’ve experienced this with my own business.

For example, if you discover you really don’t like marketing… you need to design your business accordingly.

If you want to do a minimal amount of selling, you need to design your business accordingly.

How do you do that? [spp-tweet tweet=”You have to price your services so you can afford to pay someone else to do the things you’re not good at doing.”]

Or, you can gamble and spend the next several years practicing how to do it yourself. By then the race will have passed you by and you’ll be in a different scenario altogether.

Marketing and sales are integral parts of any successful businesses. Someone has to do it. If you hate doing it, the chances are high that you won’t do a very good job of it.

The best scenario here is that you pay people to do the things you hate doing. Or the things you’re not very good at.

To do that, you can’t be selling “budget services” exclusively.

The Premium Service Market

Some of my friends only buy premium services. Maybe some of your friends or even family members might be that way, too?

For example, let’s say they’re thinking about buying a camera. They have a default setting that steers them toward the $3,000-$5,000 range as a starting point. Maybe you’d never pay that much for a camera? You think your phone, tablet or basic digital camera is fine?

You know what that tells me?

That tells me you aren’t the type of person the camera manufacturers had in mind when they developed many of their cameras.

For some reason, we think everyone places the same basic value on things the way we do.

They don’t.

How can you apply this to your business?

Using cameras again as an example – there are full compass lenses for sale out there for around 70k+. That’s a huge jump from 5k isn’t it? If you sold cameras and camera equipment, would you offer multiple options to your customers and just the cheap ones? In other words, why wouldn’t you offer low, medium and high-end products for low, medium and high-end buyers?

You can’t sell what you don’t offer, right?

Do You Enjoy Working with People?

A friend of mine has spent a lifetime in the hospitality industry. He’s not what you’d call a people person. To quote him (after removing the obscenities), “People piss me off.”

I know what you’re probably thinking (outside of agreeing with him). He’s in the wrong business, right?

Well, here’s the thing – he recognizes his weaknesses. He’s experienced what you can only describe as one bad experience after another. To remedy this, he learned to hire a crew of “happy personality types” to act as a buffer between himself and the clients.

The result? He now enjoys the hospitality business because he spends all his time focusing on the work that goes on behind the scenes while his employees deal with the public. Maybe you can relate to this with your own business?

How many designers, developers, writers, artists, etc. do great work but don’t interact with clients well?

Maybe you love doing the work, but you hate dealing with other parts of the business? The part you “hate” becomes the speedbump in the growth process.

With time, you may realize that your ideal business setup doesn’t involve you doing certain tasks. Just remember, there is always a way to pull yourself out of the equation and plug a replacement of some kind in.

It may be possible that a piece of technology or an application of some kind can replace the need for having to hire someone? Look into it and see what’s out there.

The potential problem with this is having to learn a new application every time you realize you’re not very good at certain tasks. So, besides hiring or outsourcing certain things, make sure you spend your time doing what YOU’RE good at.

Getting Overwhelmed

My ideal business has a minimal amount of moving parts for me to manage.

I learned some of the inner-workings of a large auto manufacturer here in the US and started applying their process maps systems to my own business. By systems, I mean – “maps” that visually show workflows.

You can create your own using a pen and paper to start. What comes first? What comes next? Once you see the patterns, it’s easier to see where the breakdowns occur so you can fix them.

My free course ( shows my personal mapping process and approach. Many larger companies review their processes and maps quarterly. By review I mean – they find a way to improve each process to keep up with the changes. They don’t want to hear, “Everything is fine as is.”

They want to SEE how it can be made better.

You can map out or draw out (however you want to word it) the process the represents your last client project. What happened first, second, third, etc.? Then, draw or write in a label to show or indicate what could have been done the experience better or easier.

Now you have a new process map. Rinse and repeat. Over time, you will have a system that’s a great personal fit for your business.

For many of us, “seeing it” is critical. The visuals really make a huge difference. If we can’t see it, we can’t fix it. Then all our ideas and thoughts wind up floating in a stew of confusion and overwhelm.

How many times have you gone from day to day, not sure what you should really be focusing on? Probably more than you’d like to admit

To create your ideal business, you must have a clear direction. If it takes creating process maps for each important function in your business, isn’t that worth the effort?

I’m not talking about intricate maps either. Start small and then go from there.

A Little Bit of Wisdom Can Go a Long Way

I didn’t exactly invest my money wisely in the beginning. Let’s just say – I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I worked a lot of hours. My thinking sort of went along these lines – If I invest a lot of time and energy now, I’ll be able to rest (one day) in the future.

Then the future came. One year, two years, three years, etc. Five years later I was working just as hard as ever.

Because the process of building a business takes some time, it’s very easy to get distracted by people selling the dream of pushbutton solutions. If someone tells you what you want to hear, it’s not always easy to ignore it.

What if they’re right? What if they really do have the “the secret” I’ve been looking for?

So, you lose some more time, money, and focus checking all the new products and systems out.

Buying the latest stuff “feels good.” It feels like you’ve made an investment. But a week or so later, all the excitement is gone and you’re basically on to the next thing.

Understanding what makes the ideal business setup for you personally is the foundation that everything else gets built upon. What do you really want yours to look like? A little planning can go a long way.

More than Just Paying the Bills

How much money do you need to make each month? Pick a number. Now, look closely at that number. Does that number leave much room for error? I’m talking about sudden, unexpected expenses, repairs, problems, etc.

The cost of living isn’t exactly cheap in most places.

During the financial crises of 2008, a lot of small business owners were hit hard by the economic downturn. If your business is paying the bills, but not much else, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be grateful for what you have. I’m just saying, don’t stop there.

Keep moving forward. Keep adding clients. Keep building.

You don’t have to build an “empire.” If you enjoy a more laid-back approach, that’s fine. Just keep in mind, business has seasons… just as nature does. During the “winter,” nothing grows. Even squirrels store up nuts for the winter seasons.

In 2008, it really hit the fan (like the old saying goes). Like many business owners, I went into survival mode. It was during that time that I realized how quickly money can disappear! The good times had rolled all right. Right off a cliff.

Will the economy take a turn for the worse in the future? Who knows? One thing is for certain… I’ll be better prepared if it ever happens again.

When you work for yourself, no one is really there to push you beside yourself. It can be easy to nod off behind the wheel when you should be working.

Back to Your Business

So, back to your business. Why not start with the mapping process and figure out how to build the type of business that you’re really going to enjoy going forward?

Figure out what pieces you can do yourself and what options are available for the tasks you’re not so good at.

Once you have that information in place, you’ll have the type of clarity that makes focusing on the next steps much easier to do.

You’ll be able to “see” or visualize easier what needs to be done next. For example, let’s say you want to create a map for your sales process (because you don’t have one). You find yourself thinking, “It would be great if I had a series of emails already written that I could send out for those who wanted more information about my product line.”

Maybe you can write those yourself? Where would they be stored? Would you automate sending them out? Or, would you manually cut and paste the template so you could customize it for each customer.

As you answer those questions, add the box with each step to your map. Again, the map is for you and/or the people working with you. It’s there like the directions on the back of a box of cake mix. By following the steps, you get the same consistent result every time.

If you weren’t available, your spouse, family member, partner, etc. could use that process map and get the same result you do.

Did you ever see the pizza ovens the big chains use? It’s a conveyor belt oven. You put the uncooked pizza on one side and by the time it comes out the other, each pizza is cooked the same amount of time.

The person operating the oven doesn’t have to open the over to see if it’s done yet. They don’t have to worry about burning or overcooking it either. That’s what the process does. It adds the right piece to the process to avoid the problems.

So, what do you think? Is this doable for you? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

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Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002. Jim has been interviewed by a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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About Jim

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002.

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