The Subtle Art of Building A Successful Online Business

The Subtle Art of Building A Successful Online Business

When it comes to unlocking the art of building a successful online business, there’s no ‘one key opens all locks’ approach. It’s a comprehensive process of meandering struggles coupled with buckets of hard work to get to the top of your niche.

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Launched by Nathan Chan, Foundr is a digital magazine and resource center for the growing ranks of self-made entrepreneurs. Foundr is the perfect example of an online business that found success swiftly. We spoke with Nathan to understand the subtle art of building a successful online business. Read on!

Nathan Chan
Nathan Chan

What inspired you to start Foundr? Tell us the story.

I really wanted to get a job in marketing and no one would hire me. So, I went back to university, got a degree in marketing. Still, no one hired me. And because I was really passionate about technology, I thought it would be cool to combine my passion for technology and marketing and see if I could just do something in the online marketing space.

I learned how to build affiliate marketing websites which led me to find out about this software platform called MagCast that allowed you to publish your own magazine and I thought it was a brilliant idea. I had no expectation or intent to create a startup or anything massive, it was literally just a side hobby passion project.

And after I launched the first issue I just really fell in love with the process and space and I found there was a real opportunity in the marketplace to produce a magazine that produced really really good content. As time went by, the idea evolved to become much more than just a magazine and to include content in various forms such as blogs, podcasts, courses and videos in many different shapes and forms. And that’s the story of Foundr.

Could you give us an insight into Foundr’s Start & Scale course?  

Most eCommerce store building courses are taught by gurus. And these are people that have experienced success perhaps once with one store and now they probably make more money selling how to create a store versus actually through their own businesses.

What’s different with Foundr’s ‘Start and Scale course’ is that we find proven practitioners, not gurus; people that have achieved success in a certain niche several times. We get people to unpack everything that they know and break it down into a repeatable system. That’s really what differentiates Foundr’s ‘Start and Scale’ course from other eCommerce store building courses.

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When it comes to building a successful online business, what are the top 5 skills that an entrepreneur must absolutely have?

When it comes to building a successful online business, the top five skills that an entrepreneur absolutely must have are

  1. Be consistent. I think you just have to be extremely consistent and you have to have a really strong discipline around that consistency.
  2. Be resourceful. It is incredibly important to be resourceful because you’re just going to face so many problems where you don’t know what to do and you need to be able to find out what those answers are and, if you can’t find them out, you need to find somebody who has those answers because somebody has probably done it before.
  3. Be communicative. Good communication and being a people’s person is an important skill to have especially as your company grows. It’s good to have a good understanding of people and empathy.
  4. Be relentlessness. You must be prepared to keep going even if things aren’t working. You need to keep working on it.
  5. Be hungry. You have to be extremely hungry and you have to be obsessed with the problem that you’re trying to solve. And it has to be an extreme obsession.

With numerous businesses now taking to the web, what steps can a business take to stand out from the herd? Share your top 3 tips on this subject. 

I think the top three tips on this subject would be:

  1. Design to thrill. Great design is a really smart way to cut through the competition. This is primarily because most businesses don’t pay attention to design.
  2. Amplify with influencers. Give ambassadors and influencers your product or your service to talk about on their social media handles. Or get a testimonial from them or get them to be an investor or get them to write a review. The more you can align yourself with authorities and influencers in the market that you’re trying to serve, the easier it will be to stand out.
  3. Don’t follow the herd. Don’t do everything that all of your competitors are doing in the marketplace, always trying to do things differently. See where you can draw inspiration and ideas from to build something different.

What are the 3 questions to address before starting up or taking your local business online?

The first question you want to look at is ‘who is absolutely killing it online that is serving the same market as you want to serve?’. You would want to study them and look at everything that they’re doing.

The second question you want to ask is ‘what are the costs involved in taking your business online? Because often, things are much more expensive than you planned for.

And the third question to ask is ‘what channels do you want to focus on’? You need to find an effective online distribution channel, whether that’s social media, organic traffic through SEO, or through paid traffic.

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Could you give us your take on the importance of mentors in the entrepreneurial journey and how newbie entrepreneurs can find one?  

Mentors are extremely important. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of mentors throughout my journey as an entrepreneur. And the way that I found them is just through serving first and asking later and really just trying to serve and reach out to people and put myself out there and make myself vulnerable.

If you’re a newbie entrepreneur, one good way to get started is using a tool like clarity.fm. This tool provides access to some of the smartest minds of the century without costing much. When you want to find mentors, don’t have the mindset of “What can I take from that person?”

Instead, ask “What can I give in exchange?” Or “How can I further serve that person?” And then you’ll start to naturally build and develop mentors. And never ask somebody, “Can you be my mentor?” I think that’s a rookie move.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one key piece of advice that you would like to share with fellow entrepreneurs that are hustling to start their online business?

I think you just have to show up every single day and be prepared to eat dirt for a very, very long period of time. And probably the fastest way that you’re going to get your business up and running is to find people that are doing what you want to do.

So, join a community, go to a meetup, try and meet as many like-minded people as possible that are doing and achieving the things that you want to achieve.

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