How I Started My First Online BusinessMar 28, 2022
"Inga, how did you get started?"
This is the question I get asked quite often. Especially by my new clients, who want to know my story. So I pulled out my archives to share my story of how I started my first online business with no money, no support from family or friends and share the steps of starting a business in today's digital economy (because a lot has changed since 2007).
Let's dive in.
MY FIRST ONLINE BUSINESS
I started my first online business back in 2007 at the ripe age of 21.
My business helped registered dog breeders around the Europe market, sell & transport their pedigree puppies abroad. I've operated in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Check Republic. Within a few months of starting my business, I was profitable and even appeared on the television channel LRT (Lithuanian National Radio and Television).
(the title under my name translates to "Dog Consultant") 🐶
As I was the first to bring the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed to Lithuania, they wanted to do a segment about this breed on the morning show "Labas rytas, Lietuva" and asked me to talk about this breed.
It was a pretty cool highlight of my business.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Since the age of 15, I was attending dog cruft with my beloved chow-chow dogs, and my family had a small kennel with a few puppy litters per year. I was helping my family to sell the puppies by placing ads on the internet in Lithuania, Latvia and Germany. So I knew ALL about dog breeds, pedigree dogs, documentation and international pet travel requirements. But most importantly, I knew the BIG problem every dog breeder had and what their dream solution that that problem was - selling their pedigree puppies fast, to a good home and for a top price.
As a go-to expert for everyone who was looking to get advice about buying a pedigree dog for their family, soon, I've realised people wanted to get what was not available on the market. But buying from abroad was too big of a hassle: language barriers, transportation, payments, etc.
That's where I found the gap in the market and saw an opportunity to use my expertise and skills to solve the problems both breeders and buyers had.
I've become the middleman.
BELIEVING IN MYSELF
At that time, I did not have support from my family, or friends, as no one believed I will actually be able to make a living. To be very honest, people laughed at my idea. They were saying: "Oh cute, puppies, but how you will make money". But I did, and pretty quickly I was earning double an average salary in Lithuania.
If you are reading this today, and you are in the same place, where I was back in 2007, when no one believed in me, please know this: You don't need others to believe in you to build and grow a profitable business, the only thing you need is to believe in yourself.
BECOMING A DIGITAL NERD
Without the internet, that business would not have been possible or even sustainable. At the time, I lived in Lithuania. A country with a population of 2.7M. It is tiny. So the market for top-priced pedigree dogs was also limited. As a middleman, I was earning a commission, so I had to expand my operations beyond the borders of Lithuania, so I could also increase my earnings when trading between different currency markets.
When you start a business, you have to think beyond where you are located geographically, and think big. Now it is easier than ever to start a business, technology has evolved so much since 2007. And when you understand how to use your website and social media as a marketing tool to generate leads and make sales, everything is possible.
YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT
If you can't stop thinking about starting a business, you should start a business. Here's why: some businesses, are stepping stones for what the universe has in store for you. As my first business was that stepping stone to my second, then the third business. Starting a business is like opening a new chapter in your life. An exciting chapter filled with new opportunities, new possibilities and a steep learning curve.
So here are the steps to starting your new chapter.
STEPS TO STARTING A BUSINESS
- Get clear on the problem you're solving. A business's purpose is to provide a solution to an existing problem or to fulfil an unmet desire. No matter what industry you're in, the same rule applies. You must identify the problem your business is solving, so you can clearly communicate it to your potential clients. At the end of the day, people will pay you for a SOLUTION to a specific problem they can't solve themselves because they don't know how or they don't have the time to do it themselves.
- Ask your potential clients what they actually want. When you start a business, you have an idea of what YOU want your business to look like. Which is important. But your business is here to serve other people, not you. By knowing the struggles and secret wishes of the people you want to serve, you'll be able to bridge the gap between what YOU want to offer, and what your clients ACTUALLY WANT. Creating an irresistible service or a product.
- Use the power of technology to get in front of your customers. We live in a digital economy. Using digital tools to reach your clients is the new basic. You need to understand how to use your website and social media as marketing tools to generate leads and make sales. The Internet has unlimited potential and your geographical location is no longer an obstacle to growing a business.
- Believe in yourself. You don't need others to believe in you, you only need to believe in yourself. Trust me, I know!