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How to start an online business in 2017

I’ve been a digital entrepreneur for the last five years. My job is to build and sell online technology companies.

I often get asked for help from people who really want to change their jobs and work situation. Many of them dream about an online business. They want work and live where they choose, not where their office is located.

I got an email this morning from a friend of mine in the UK who is not happy with her current job. She is curious about what she could do to extra income in other ways.

Based on my successes, issues and what I’ve learned along the way building 4 successful businesses, this is what I think could be useful to people just starting out.


If you can figure your way around the computer, set up a wordpress website (you can teach yourself how in about 10 mins, I use www.bluehost.com so don’t worry on this front!) and get around facebook then you are in an incredibly strong position.

In terms of what online business to start, the ones you can probably grow to a large size in the shortest amount of time, are the ones where you take advantage of an existing channel where a lot of people already are.



Years ago, ad prices were cheap, and at least half the world used the google search engine. So anyone could set up a niche website on some random topic (say dog grooming), buy cheap ads, get traffic to go to your website, sell other peoples dog grooming brushes on it (you didn’t need to buy any though, just refer people to them) and make a lot of money every month doing this. Thousands of £$€ worth of income.


4-5 years ago, a lot of people were visiting the app store. But there were much fewer apps on it. So if you made apps at this time, you were pretty much guaranteed to get a ton of downloads and make a serious amount of money. Ive heard of people making 1/5 million $ on one fairly simple game.


Yes, this was also a ‘thing’ a while ago, and friends of mine were doing 10k a month with near 100 ebooks they got other people to write.

And there’s more – Clickbank, Amazon, Facebook ads….

All of these huge platforms offer opportunities for people like you & me to create products to sell, get em in front of thousands of eyeballs, and then make money off it.

There are two major downsides of these platforms:

1) You have to play by their rules, and their conditions to be a member / seller on them. And the usually own the customers email addresses, not you (email addresses are like gold).

2) These platforms are really good for sellers for a few years, but they change over time and get more difficult. Then they increase their rules, the amount of sellers goes crazy as everyone jumps in, and then it becomes very difficult to sell there and people move to the next ‘big platform’.

So the question to ask is what is the next big platform that is in its early stages, that you can jump on and literally make a ton of money. The answer is I don’t know yet. But I can tell you how you can find out.

1) Get a smartphone of some sort, or download iTunes to your computer.
2) Get into the USA store (don’t even think of looking in the Irish or UK stores, they are rubbish for this type of research). You can do this by scrolling to the end of the iTunes screen on your computer and selecting the USA
3) Go to the podcast section
4) Go to the business podcast section
5) Go for the top business podcasts in the USA
6) Look through them all and start downloading the ones that appeal to you.

The first step to all of this is education. Happily it can be combined with exercise! I walk about 2 hours every day while listening to business podcasts.


The way that is most LIKELY to succeed, for a new business is:

1) Following a proven model – do something that someone has done successfully before
2) Using a existing channel to get your traffic, instead of having to do things like buying ads etc which is a very slow / expensive way to start.

To get you thinking, here are 88 real passive income ideas.


(The short answer is probably not in most cases).

I listened to a good podcast that said a great way to find out what the best business for you, has these 3 characteristics:

What are you good at?
What can you be paid for?
What do you love to do?

So I plugged in what I’ve done to date to this formula.

MOBILE APPS: I’m good at it, I can be paid for it, I like it but I don’t love it.
HORSES: I’m good at it, I love it, but its next to impossible to make money from it.

It’s really hard to find something that you can tick all three things for. But for the purpose of getting started, if you can tick these TWO things:

  • What are you good at?
  • What can you be paid for?

That’s a great place to start. And it does work because that’d what I did. So can you make a list now of everything you’re good at? What are your skills? This can be anything from physiotherapy, to book keeping, to cooking, to office admin to writing.

How many of the 3 points in the formula do they match up to? 2 points (if they include what you are good at and what you can make money from) is enough to get started!


You will have to work an insane amount. But it is worth it.

Focus on using your time, and using as little money as possible.

I’ve done everything from mobile apps, selling physical goods, starting websites, making CD-ROMs, writing books I published on Amazon, selling online video courses, speaking at events, publishing a music album, building email lists, running a blog and probably lots of other stuff I can’t even remember.


The simple and final answer is google. I got started because one Christmas a few years ago, I decided to sit down on Christmas eve and I googled ‘How to make an app’. I am not a programmer and I have no idea how to do this. But my hope was that something was available for dummies like me, to help me do this.

Always assume you will be able to figure EVERYTHING out. Most things are actually on Google if you dig deep enough.

I hit my head off a brick wall for about a week, stayed up until midnight most nights and on New Years eve I had my first horse app published on Google Play.

That should not have been possible with my existing skills. But I got really stubborn and determined and decided I’d make it happen no matter what. So it happened.

If you only half want to start a business or a side job, it probably won’t work, as you’ll get discouraged when it all gets tough.

If you really really really want it to happen (for me I was so fed up of my office job I decided anything was better!) then God nor man won’t be able to stop you.



1) Don’t start using a platform that was big a few years ago, but is now very difficult to get success on. If in doubt, ask me as I’ve a fair idea of the overall landscape.

2) Don’t spend a ton of money. Don’t get any loans and do not put anything on your credit card.

3) Don’t quit your job. Instead start working 15 hours a week between evenings and weekends, listening to podcasts at the start and then working on your new idea. Do a full day at weekend, and at least 3 evenings a week.

4) Disconnect your TV, stop buying newspapers and turn off your radio. You will not need them for the next 6 months and they are wasting your time you could be learning new skills.


Go onto Amazon and buy and read these books (these I’ve found most useful in my whole life!) and in order of usefulness:

The four hour work week – Tim Ferris
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert K
The Slight Edge
Screw work lets play – John Williams
The $100 startup – Chris G
Get rich with dividends – Marc L
Launch – Jeff Walker
The law of attraction (optional)

Go onto iTunes and listen to these podcasts:

The Starters Club
The Side Hustle Show
The Rich Dad Show
Smart Passive Income
E O Fire (John Lee Dumas)
Extra Paycheck Podcast
Flipped Lifestyle Podcast

When you are done, report back in the comments here & let me know if this info has been useful.

All of this stuff you can you, I promise you, because none of this is rocket science. Think about that.

You are just as smart & capable of figuring this stuff out as anyone else. We’ve all got the same amount of time & the same brain setup. What makes the difference is what we choose to do with our time.

What brings in revenue you do more of. What doesn’t work you’ve learned useful stuff from and you move onto the next thing.

Good luck my friends. The best stage in life is actually when you are fed up and annoyed with your current situation.

Because that feeling is what fuels your determination to make a significant change.

I’m currently seeing success selling t-shirts on Amazon. If you’d like to learn more you can listen to my podcast here.


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I’ll be live-streaming a few times each week. Download the app, create an account and follow me to stay in touch. Learn how to build successful businesses, outsource as you grow, invest your income for cashflow and create the life and freedom you really want.

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