What’s In It For Me?

This is a newsletter article from the March 2011 edition my monthly email newsletter. If you like it and aren’t signed up, simply fill in the form to the right or at the bottom of this post to join.

Have you ever been to a networking meeting, or built a new relationship online, and been thrilled at the possibilities which the contact has brought? Have you ever experienced that fantastic buzz that comes from discussing your business with someone like-minded, sharing ideas, until a new venture presents itself to the two of you and suddenly you are all set to start a new project?

This is one of the most gratifying feelings which and online business owner can have. That moment of sudden clarity when you realize that a wealth of opportunities have just opened up, and you can join forces with someone to make something incredible together.

It happened to me just a few weeks ago. I met up with someone who had a number of skills which I don’t, and we ended up coming up with a number of different ideas about how to join forces to complement each other’s skills.

We talked for hours, sharing possibilities, and by the time we had finished I felt more inspired and enthused about the new business venture than I had for a long time.

I went home, and began to think about the whole situation. In the cold light of day, something occurred to me. In the entire course of the discussions, neither myself nor my potential new colleague has thought about one critical consideration when it came to setting up our new project…

…How would it make money?

Now, I accept that this may sound stupid, but in the heat and enthusiasm of combining our skills, we had come up with an idea for a new site. We had discussed the potential brand, what content could go in it, and who it would appeal to.

However, at no point at all did we get down to the true point behind any business venture – what’s in it for me?

Over the time that I’ve been supporting people with their blogging needs, I come up against this exact situation time and again. I get an individual or group of amazing people, all of whom are totally inspiring, enthusiastic and completely committed to setting up a new venture online.

The ideas are usually great, and I look forward to setting things up for them and supporting them. The problem is, many people don’t ask themselves what they are going to get out of it.

Now, I’m not a mercenary person, and neither are the people who I support through my business. We are, however, looking to make a living online. Without considering the potential revenue streams of any business venture, you may as well shelve the whole thing and stick to your day job.

I’ve worked with people who have the most fantastic intentions for their blog – they are going to make people happy, support women in business, provide a great new resource for sole traders, offer a new online space for people passionate about this, that or the other.

All of these ideas are great, and come from the best intentions. However, it’s a sad fact of life that not one of these ideas will be sustainable if finances are not taken in to account.

Avoiding the pitfalls of passion

We all have specific skills which translate well to an online venture, and when we meet other people the opportunity to collaborate and extend our business offering can seem irresistible.

However, I often see people who get carried away with the idea of starting something new, and forget to check what they will get out of it at the end. A friend of mine started up a resource a few months ago to help people with gardening issues in their area.

She is a writer, and she collaborated with a gardening expert and a web designer to get the new venture up and running. It looked great, and she spent hours every day blogging for the site, answering queries and setting up resources for people to learn more about her chosen niche. After six months, she suddenly sat back and realized that all of her effort had left her with nothing but a headache and a lot less time than she should have had.

Her fellow gardener and developer had lost interest, and she was stuck with an ongoing site which needed daily maintenance, sour feelings between herself and her colleagues, and a site which brought her no benefits whatsoever.

All this points to one single consideration we must all take in to account as bloggers. We can’t make a living out of good ideas, or passion, or enthusiasm (we don’t all want to of course!). While all of these are fantastic qualities, they aren’t going to pay the bills, which is the aim of most bloggers I’ve come across.

Without a healthy dose of realism, which makes us question our motivation, and a reminder that we need to see what the benefits of each activity are, we won’t be able to sustain our online venture.

Generating revenue through focused activity

There are a number of things which we do every day as bloggers which don’t directly lead to revenue. Blogging itself does not bring a direct, visible reward for our efforts.

However, it does open up the potential to gain new contacts and customers, and sell our products. Relationship management, similarly, paves the way for enhanced customer interaction and the purchasing process. However, neither of these activities are useful unless we have a strong product in place which we can sell.

Online, our ultimate goal is to generate revenue through the services which we provide, by selling these services or associated products.

So, the next time you are sitting next to someone who fires you up with enthusiasm, or you seize upon a great idea for a new site, try standing back for a moment, and asking, “What’s in it for me?” It could be that the answer isn’t great news for you as a business owner, and you need to try a new strategy for making your online business grow, flourish, and pay its way for you as an internet entrepreneur.

Whatever you do online, hold the question in the back of your mind, to make sure that each of your activities gives you the potential to make it worth it for you, as well as feed your passion.

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