Thinking of expanding your online business? There’s some things you need to consider before diving in.
Lets take my situation as an example:
I run several online businesses (‘projects’ as a call them) simultaneously — predominantly in affiliate marketing and selling physical goods via the Amazon FBA program. A large portion of my income is passive. None of my businesses have any permanent staff, or a fixed physical premises, and I occasionally employ freelancers to get jobs done. In general, my outgoings are pretty low and I can manage my workload efficiently.
However, time is still undoubtedly my biggest constraint. There’s a limit to how many new projects (e.g. websites or products) I can take on, and fully devote myself to. So whenever a new idea or opportunity presents itself, I can’t afford to get started without giving a second thought — no matter how much it interests me. I’m nowhere near as flexible or responsive as I’d like to be.
I think there’s a few key factors any small business, including my own, should consider before embarking on a new chapter:
- Money: How much cash can you afford to invest into the new project?
- Time: How much time can you devote to the new project?
- Potential Upside: How much of a positive impact could the new project have on your business?
- Enthusiasm: How much does the new project excite you?
First a foremost there’s going to be some monetary expense attached to starting a new venture. Can you, or your business, afford it?
If you want to aim high, you’ll need to invest some money. That investment could be spent be on staff, advertising, software, freelancers, materials, office space, development costs, goods, and so on.
Money will restrict what options you have available to you from the outset. So the reality is that the expansion of your business may only come once you’ve grown big enough to afford it, or through the help of external investment.
Once you invest a significant sum of money into a new project, ensure that it’s nurtured and steered in the positive direction.
Keep in mind that throwing huge sums of money at a project doesn’t guarantee success. And it doesn’t take long to rack up so much in expenses (e.g. development costs) that you’re in a race against time to get it earning just to stop the rot. Growth doesn’t come overnight — so always spend money at a rate you can handle.
You need make the time to take on new projects. Dividing your attention between multiple tasks will be detrimental to your overall goal. The big question is: are you able to juggle everything?
Personally, if I fail to devote enough time and resources to any of my projects — whether that’s overseeing it or doing the work itself — it suffers as a result. I have to preserve what I have, to an extent. So time is the main factor which restrains the amount of new projects I can take on.
Here’s how I’m aiming to devote more time to new projects:
- Hiring an employee, or more freelancers. The plan is to delegate many of my time consuming (often repetitive) tasks.
- Selling one of my projects. This would free up several months of a year, and provide a large sum of money to reinvest into new ventures.
- Keeping within the same niche. I will continue to take on new projects which relate to those I currently work on. For example, my goalkeeper business benefits from sports traffic I generate from Punter2Pro.com, and Fly-GA.co.uk benefits from experience/skills I learned in using the Amazon FBA program for PalioETT.
You’ll need to assess your own situation in order to work out how to manage a bigger workload and more responsibilities. Otherwise it could take years to get to where you want to be. And who knows, by then, you might have missed the boat.
Before taking on a new project, you need to think to yourself: what’s the upside? Is my time better spent doing something else?
Remember that just because there’s an opportunity in front of you, doesn’t mean you should take it. If one venture has the potential to earn multiples more than another with the same amount of input, which one would you choose?
Indeed as freelancers, business owners and entrepreneurs we’re faced with the difficult decision of letting some opportunities pass us by, simply because we have bigger fish to fry. Or at least we think we do.
I’ve turned down opportunities that ending up becoming highly successful. I’ve also committed to ideas that have been unsuccessful. And I’ve also got it right on several occasions as well — which is why I’m still here, writing this article. It’s all part of running a business.
Lastly, you could have all the money and time in the world, but if you have zero enthusiasm or drive, then you’re going to struggle to jump-start any new project.
If you’re aiming high, then you’ve got to put a lot of energy and focus into the project. It begins with a plan, which unfolds with a lot of hard work and persistence — particularly during the early phases of the project.
You’ll know when you’re excited by something and when you’re not. You need to feel that excitement and channel it into your work. If you fail to feel anything, then I believe it’ll manifest in one shape or form. A weak product, sloppy presentation, incomplete tasks, too much downtime/absence, lack of new ideas — abandonment.
This may sounds dramatic, but a new project will often need your guarantee that you’ll make sacrifices to make it work. Things rarely slot into place without force; which really encapsulates the ethos of this site and what I believe in.
Hopefully I’ve given you some insight into how I currently (and will continue to) scale up my own business with new projects.
The moral here is to scale within your means, to be realistic about what can be achieved, and to apply as much of your energy as possible to achieve maximum success.