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The 7 Qualifications You Need to Start an Online Business

Back in the late 90s, I started my career in computers and began trying to figure out how to market stuff online. I didn’t get very far before I started running into various roadblocks.

There are minimum qualifications to be in business for yourself, even an online business. While the bar may be much lower than a traditional business, the rules haven’t been completely thrown out.

If you focus on these qualifications in the beginning to either fulfill or bypass them, then the rest of the issues will become a lot smaller.

1) Money

All businesses need money. It could be your money or someone else’s money, but somehow or other you’re going to need money. A small seed investment can help you bootstrap to the next level which, reinvested, builds to the next and so on.

Even if your technique requires no upfront capital (start w a free blog!), you’d still need money to eat and live until the business makes enough to yield a profit.

If you don’t have enough to live on for a year, start your business AFTER you got a job. Maximize investment potential by minimizing your living expenses to 50% or less of your “normal” lifestyle.

2) Time

Depending on the process and technique that you use, it could take YEARS or just MINUTES to make a lot of money. Sadly, in the beginning when you need the money the most, that’s when you’re least likely to be able to make any money.

In a month (or a year), after you have the solid foundation of your business in place, you  can bring in substantial profit within minutes. Like any skill, you need a minimum amount of time to practice your approach to business until it becomes a flawless art.

(Watch “Tommy Boy”!)

Your technique might only need 15 minutes to perform and only require 96 repetitions to do it well (24 hours of practice), but someone who practices it 4 times a day is going to go faster (< 1 month) than someone who only practices once a week (~ 2 YEARS).

3) Positive Mental Attitude

In desperation, I reach for my own business after losing my job. BAD! Business owners HAVE to be almost polyanna in their approach. That’s almost impossible to do when you’re desperate for money. It also puts unnecessary time pressure when time should be your best asset.

(Law of Attraction)

Success encourages the positive attitude which produces more success. People want to buy from happy, enthusiastic people.

Sales is much more about the positive emotion produced by the sale than the logical “cause produces effect” mental process that gets the card number typed into the form.

If you’re desperate for money, your thought may tend to be more the self-defeating, “Why bother?” than a contagious, “Yes, we can!” Plug positive message and music into your head so that you can STAY POSITIVE while building your druthers.

4) Unique Creativity

In some way, shape, form or another, you need to stand out from your competition. A lot of marketers jump in but never rise above the level of “Me, Too”. I get really irritated by that kind of comments on forums.

You need to do something that sets YOU apart from your competition as well as point out those differences LOUDLY. Don’t just settle for copying someone’s success but create something different that is worth having.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Creativity starts in the mind, but it’s valuable until you make it tangible in others’ lives. Get your imagination out in some tangible form so others can affirm or reject it. It may not be perfect, but someone will see the value and build on it.

5) Personality

One way of being unique and creative is to have personality, but make sure it’s part and parcel of who you are. Some people ARE characters while others HAVE character. In this case, you need to both HAVE and BE character.

In one sense, my anonymity is a way to being unique and having personality. But, honestly, I cringe when some of my favorite bloggers advise me to get personal. They encourage me to use video, but I have a unique and personal idea that will also preserve my anonymity also. I’m gonna add pics, but they’re not going to be your “normal” pic.

All in all, this whole process has to FIT my personality, my quirks, my norm. If I’m not comfortable posting, it’ll reflect in the quality of my information. I’m not going to pretend I’m a mystic guru here to spill the REAL secrets after making millions. That’s a lie. My best income year was back in 2000 when I was still a contract programmer and knew nothing about marketing.

“To thine own self be true. Then it follows, as night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare’s Hamlet

6) Business Tools

I almost didn’t put this in cause it kinda “goes without saying”, but this has been a challenge for me over the years, and someone’s going to think “you never said…” so I’ll say it.

At a bare minimum, you need your own computer and broadband Internet access. You can get a cheap, relatively modern PC for ~$300 or less. A computer friend might be willing to set you up cheap or free. The library is not really a valid place to start a business regardless of whether it’s your PC or theirs.

You must have a broadband Internet connection of some type. Cable or DSL is perfect. I’ve been doing most of this on my Acer Aspire ONE netbook which isn’t really powerful enough.

iPhone is good for some things, but it’s a supplement, not a base unit. Hotels and McDonald’s are great for WiFi on the road, but there’s nothing as good as home broadband.

7) Habit

I’ve been trying to avoid them all my life, but the only way to succeed in business is to make a habit of practicing it.

  • You need to practice using the computer, getting online, etc.
  • Habitually follow your niche to understand the marketplace.
  • Practice using the tools that you prefer: blog, browser, etc.
  • Practice the technique that you’re trying to use.
  • A lot of this could be outsourced, but you still need to get in the habit of understanding it. As I mentioned, this could take some time.
  • Start today. Set aside 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or whatever. It takes 14 days to build a habit. Make today day 1.
  • Get comfortable and skilled with YOUR thing before you add something else. Let the world go on by. You can catch up.


OK, that’s all I can think of. If you are missing anything, then you have work to do. That’s the minimum qualifications for online business. If you can:

  1. deal with your minimum money to eat and live,
  2. find (the same) time every day to study and practice,
  3. keep a positive mental attitude,
  4. be uniquely creative,
  5. have a honest personality,
  6. have a few basic business tools,
  7. and do all this habitually, …

you’re well on your way to success online. I’ll expound on this and add to it as I can. I’m starting my habit today also.



Categories: Online Business
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