Starting an online business has changed. What entrepreneurs need today is a friend who has another friend that has the same interest as you do. No one who has a successful “Web 2.0” or “not a web 2.0” business can tell you the same. Social media and social networking has become a huge part of success in the recent years. You can test your idea to see if it will gain traction or not by just simply adding it to one or two social media or bookmarking sites such as digg,del.icio.us or reddit.
Few steps to be successful with zero down:
1) Come up with an idea that will present itself as a problem solver for a community. Don’t try to reinvent the wheels. Search for an open source code that may be available to a similar solution and twist it a little so that you don’t have to spend time and money to put this together.
2) Don’t do a closed beta testing with the people you know. Release a beta version to the public and let people tell you if they like it or not. Don’t wait for months before you launch it because chances are that someone else is also thinking about the same concept.
3) Make your site simple as possible. Web 2.0 is all about having white spaces rather than clouding it with information. Let the user tell you where they want information on the site.
4) Post your new site to all of the freely available social media and bookmarking sites. You can target the audience by posting in a specific category that best represents your business model.
5) Add new features and recommended features on a daily basis so that you get those people to come back again and again.
6) Feed your users with information about all the changes you are making. Hype it up. A blog on that site would be a good way to do this. Without hype there will be no success. You need to show them how much this new project means to you. If you don’t do this, they will think “well there is no real interest in this project then why should I waste my time here”.
7) Don’t charge your users. Give it away for free and let them get hooked on it. They need to get hooked on to your service and feel that without your service they will be lost. Ask “Diggers what they would do without Digg”. Well try that post it will tell you how crazy they are about that service.
8) Re-evaluate your traction, feedback and the time you have spenton the system in about 6 weeks from the launch date. Ask yourself if you are satisfied with the repeat visitors, are you satisfied with the traction that you are getting, and are you on the right path to being successful?
9) Based on the evaluation, if your answer is “yes” to many those questions around “satisfaction”, and then continue to repeats steps 3 to 6 for another month or so.
10) Re-evaluate yourself here to see if you have gained new users since the 6th week evaluation. If your answer is “yes” then continue to market your site either through paid marketing or similar free marketing techniques. If your answer is “no” then I strongly suggest you move on to another project and not waste any further time with your idea.
Now don’t feel discouraged if you failed with this project. You always gain more knowledge by trying this out than not doing anything. I am sure through the exercise above; you would have gained a lot of knowledge alone with these simple questions: “what if I hadn’t said that or what if I did it this way”. You tried with no money down and you didn’t continue to waste more than few weeks and now you are on to something new. Reuse your code and the concept to see if you can find something that will work for another niche group.