How the Average Person Can Actually Start An Online Business (and Scale It Into Something Real) - Entrepreneur

How the Average Person Can Actually Start An Online Business (and Scale It Into Something Real) - Entrepreneur


How the Average Person Can Actually Start An Online Business (and Scale It Into Something Real) - Entrepreneur

Posted: 01 Sep 2020 12:00 AM PDT

9 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

This isn't another "how to start a business" article that's going to leave you with generic tips and general information that sounds good on the surface but provides you no real actionable advice. 

Rather, this article is raw, action-packed and may scare some of you. Continue reading at your own discretion. 

A 2018 study from Bankrate revealed that only 39% of Americans could have enough savings for a $1,000 emergency fund and 44% couldn't cover a $400 out-of-pocket emergency expense. 

Starting a business can be a difficult task regardless of your financial status, but the degree of difficulty climbs much higher the lower you are on the economic class scale.

Related: The Complete, 12-Step Guide to Starting a Business

If you happen to be an average person, with an average bank account, a normal job, a family to feed and bills eating up a large percentage of your earnings, then the deck is stacked against you. 

Why?

It takes money to make money. Online sales are all about eyeballs. How many people can get you to see and interact with your offers?

I tell my eBook students — "you can write the best book in the history of the universe, but if no one ever sees it, you'll never get a sale. On the other hand, you can publish the worst book ever published and with the right marketing techniques and finances to back it, you'll get some initial sales, at least until you get a few bad reviews."

If you start your own website, open a Shopify store, sell on Amazon, social media or any other online marketplace, you will be paying for those eyeballs through either advertising or fees. Sometimes both. The only potential exception would be those with a large and active social media following.

Long story short — if you are the average person without a legitimate budget, you're kind of screwed. 

Learn from my mistakes 

Sometimes we all need a reality check. I wish someone would have sat me down and told me this when I was 23 years old because I wasted tens of thousands of dollars on failed online business over the years and it was money that I didn't have. 

I've been the average guy with the average income, the average job and above-average bills. There was a point in my life that my monthly earnings were negative $1,000. I had to get a $20,000 personal loan to plus up my income to pay my bills for a year. 

Honestly, I don't know what the bank was thinking by giving me that loan, but I'm glad they did because I had seriously considered filing for bankruptcy and if I'm being honest, I probably should have. 

This was one of the worst and most stressful time-periods of my life and if this article can save one person the heartache I went through, it'll be worth it. 

Move over success 

A few years later, I was supporting US Special Forces as a military contractor in Syria. While I was sleeping in a tent, eating food out of a can and stealing WIFI from a neighboring country, I started an online jobs website for aviation professionals with security clearances interested in deploying to combat zones. 

Related: Need a Business Idea? Here Are 55.

The website itself did become profitable, but it was only a few hundred dollars of profit per month. While it wasn't a massive win, there wasn't much like it within the industry. 

The site's uniqueness along with the targeted audience I was able to build via Facebook advertising piqued the interest of the right people which lead to a single dinner and ended with me consulting with a multimillion-dollar corporation. 

Since then, it's been all downhill. Sometimes all we need is a single breakthrough. 

If I can do it from a tent in Syria, you can do it from your couch. It didn't happen overnight though. Here is the process I had to go through to get to that point. 

Overcoming average people obstacles

The mistakes I made that put me in the worst financial position of my life are the same mistakes that many others make on a daily basis. 

If you are in a position where you don't have expendable income but want to start an online business, read the following advice carefully...

Be realistic

  1. Realize that until you fix your own financial problems, starting a legitimate business will be out of the question. This was a tough realization for me, but I've learned that you can have the best business concept in the history of the universe, but if you can't fund it and do it right, it'll never succeed.  
  2. Sell everything you can possibly sell. Especially liabilities that have monthly payments. If it wasn't nailed down, I sold it. I lost money on most everything, but it was worth it in the long run. 
  3. Consolidate debt and cancel all unnecessary subscriptions. This allowed me to lower my monthly obligations, decrease interest rates on certain debts and pay bigger chunks towards the debt. 

Focus on the money

  1. Search for a higher paying job. Often, we underestimate ourselves and what we are capable of accomplishing. Put yourself out there and see what's available. What's the worst a potential employer can say, no? This is actually how I ended up in Syria. I was able to more than double my salary by accepting a position that most people wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. I even grew to love the job, but initially, I was simply making a personal sacrifice to achieve a long-term goal. As an entrepreneur, if you are not willing to make sacrifices, you are in the wrong line of work. 
  2. Use a skill, learn a skill or try something new. Stop worrying about starting a business and focus on actually earning money. I was able to earn an additional $1,500 a month by writing content for people's blogs, creating social media content and writing small informational eBooks. Here is a solid hint. If you want to make money, be willing to do the grunt work. Do the things that people don't like to do themselves. 

It wasn't glamorous, but it accelerated my debt pay off. I was able to get most of my business by joining niche forums and Facebook groups. Here is a solid hint – niche forums and Facebook groups are two of the only places on the internet that you can get those eyeballs for free, but you have to be offering something they are actively seeking. 

I actually hadn't ever done any of the services that I started offering, but with a little practice and learning from people on YouTube, I was able to surpass customers' expectations.

Related: 5 Steps on How to Start a Business and Get It to Market Quickly

Starting a business and scaling

Once you are out of debt or close to it and have at least $2,000 to invest, it's time to start your online business. 

Here's the process I like to follow:

  1. Don't think major corporations. Rather, start small and build. Use the new skills you learned to earn extra money during your debt payoff phase and start something you know can be profitable. We all have our dream business, but at this point, it's more important to start something low risk and stable. Learn to be passionate about the process and business in general rather than a specific idea or concept. 
  2. Once you have a steady flow of business, figure out how to outsource using freelancers. Implement processes to take yourself out of the equation to the point that you are simply managing the businesses and dealing with customers. This will allow you to continue earning from the business, but it'll free you up to work towards your next business. 
  3. Take the earnings from the first business and invest them into your next business concept. Ideally, you will only be investing the profits from business number one into business number two. This will allow you to continue to build your personal savings from your day job while still allowing you to invest in online businesses. 
  4. Rinse and repeat. 

Don't rush the process. Enjoy the journey. 

Personally, I like to have three to five businesses running at any given time. Two or three of them will be low-end grunt work type businesses that fund my ideal businesses.

The grunt work businesses are profitable because everyone hates to do their own grunt work. It's the reason people pay to have their houses cleaned and their lawns mowed. 

You can easily and successfully scale without having to invest money earned from your full-time job. This allows you to continue to save and grow financially while you are building something real.

Takeaways

Starting a business can be difficult and is a process that shouldn't be rushed. 

In reality, it's a fairly simple process if you are patient. 

  1. Fix yourself
  2. Focus on the money
  3. Start with something low risk
  4. Outsource
  5. Invest earnings into other business concepts
  6. Repeat

In my opinion, this is the one process that gives the average person the best chance of being able to start a successful online business. 

Why (and How) Amazon Created the Kindle and Changed the Book Industry Forever - Entrepreneur

Posted: 27 Jan 2021 06:00 AM PST

15+ min read

This story appears in the January 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It was the fall of 2003, which were consequential days for both Apple and Amazon. Only two years earlier, Apple released its first iPod and Amazon turned a quarterly profit for the first time. Now Steve was inviting Jeff, me (Colin), and another Amazon colleague down to Cupertino for a chat.

We arrived and were ushered into a nondescript conference room with a Windows PC and two platters of takeout sushi. Everyone chatted about the state of the music industry while doing some serious damage to the food. After dabbing his mouth with a napkin, Jobs segued into the real purpose of the meeting: He announced that Apple had just finished building its first Windows application. He calmly and confidently told us that even though it was Apple's first attempt to build a Windows application, he thought it was the best Windows application anyone had ever built. He then personally gave us a demo of the soon-to-be-launched iTunes for Windows.

Related: 4 Undeniable Signs That Your Industry Is Ripe for Disruption

During the demo, Jobs talked about how this move would transform the music industry. Up until this point, if you wanted to buy digital music from Apple, you needed a Mac, which made up less than 10 percent of the home computer market. Apple's first foray into building software on the competing Windows platform showed how serious it was about the digital music market. Now anyone with a computer would be able to purchase digital music from Apple.

Steve said that CDs — which Amazon sold many of — would go the way of other outdated music formats like the cassette tape. His next comment could be construed as either a matter-of-fact statement, an attempt to elicit an angry retort, or an attempt to goad Jeff into making a bad business decision by acting impulsively. He said, "Amazon has a decent chance of being the last place to buy CDs. The business will be high-margin but small. You'll be able to charge a premium for CDs, since they'll be hard to find." Jeff did not take the bait. We were their guests, and the rest of the meeting was uneventful. But we all knew that being the exclusive seller of antique CDs did not sound like an appealing business model for Amazon.

Remember, this was 2003. The shift to digital had just begun. No one wanted to get in too early with a product that did not yet have a market. But no one wanted to miss the moment, either, and be unable to catch up. We knew that we'd need to invent our way out of this dilemma by obsessing over what the best customer experience would be in this new paradigm.

Did that meeting with Steve Jobs impact Jeff's thinking? Only Jeff can speak to that. All we can say is what Jeff did and did not do afterward. What he didn't do (and what many companies would have done) was to kick off an all-hands-on-deck project to combat this competitive threat, issue a press release claiming how this new service would win the day, and race to build a copycat digital music service. What he did do was take his time, process what he learned, and form a plan that revolutionized the company — and did the exact opposite of chasing Apple into the music-selling business.

Related: Are You Ready for a Change? Here Are 5 Ways to Get Mentally Prepared.

This is the story of the creation of the Kindle.

We were there to help it happen: Colin started at Amazon in 1998, Bill joined in 1999, and we spent decades as senior executives working with Jeff. In developing the Kindle, we learned a critical lesson in business longevity — and in what it takes to define the change around you.


A few months after that meeting with Steve Jobs, in January 2004, Jeff made his first move. He put Steve Kessel, Amazon's VP of media retail, in charge of the company's digital business. This seemed strange at first. Steve Kessel had been overseeing sales of physical books, music, video, and more — a core component of Amazon's business. The company's digital media business, meanwhile, consisted of a new "search inside the book" feature, plus an e-books team of roughly five people, which generated a few million dollars in annual revenue and had no real prospects for growth.

But there was wisdom here. Jeff wasn't making a "what" decision; he made a "who" and "how" decision. This is an incredibly important difference. He did not jump straight to focusing on what product to build, which seems like the straightest line from A to B. Instead, the choices Jeff made suggested — even then! — that he believed the scale of the opportunity was large and that the scope of the work required to achieve success was equally large and complex. He focused first on how to organize the team and who was the right leader to achieve the right result.

Steve asked me (Bill) to join him in this new division, leading the digital media business team. I was hesitant. But then Steve explained Jeff's thinking: Amazon was at an important crossroads, and now was the time to act.

Though the physical media business was growing, we all understood that over time it would decline in popularity and importance as the media business shifted to digital. In the beginning of that year, 2004, Apple announced that it had sold a total of more than two million iPods — and the proliferation of shared digital music files online had already prompted a decline in sales of music CDs. It seemed only a matter of time before sales of physical books and DVDs would decline as well, replaced by digital downloads.

Jeff was a student of history and regularly reminded us that if a company didn't or couldn't change and adapt to meet shifting consumer needs, it was doomed. "You don't want to become Kodak," he would say, referring to the once-mighty photography giant that had missed the turn from film to digital. We weren't going to sit back and wait for that to happen to Amazon.

Related: Disruption vs. Innovation: Defining Success

Conceptually, I understood and accepted this history lesson. What I didn't get was why Steve and I had to change jobs and build up a whole new organization. Why couldn't we manage digital media as part of what we were already doing? After all, we would be working with the same partners and suppliers. The media had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was media companies: book publishers, record companies, and motion picture studios. I already managed the co-op marketing relationships with those companies, so it made sense that we should do this within the same organization and build off the knowledge and success of our strong team. Otherwise, Amazon would have two different groups in the company responsible for business relationships with partners and suppliers.

But Jeff felt that if we tried to manage digital media as a part of the physical media business, it would never be a priority. The bigger business carried the company, after all, and would always get the most attention. Steve told me that getting digital right was highly important to Jeff, and he wanted Steve to focus on nothing else. Steve wanted me to join him and help him create the new business.

A separate digital media organization would prove to be the right thing for the company, and one of the best things ever to happen for my career. I said yes.


Now we had a mission — to build a business selling digital books, music, and video. But how? We spent roughly six months researching the digital media landscape and learned some key things. First, music: With piracy rapidly killing the CD business and Apple selling millions of songs on iTunes to millions of iPod customers, the record companies were eager for us to jump in fast so they would have more retailers to deal with — not just Apple. Second, e-books: A marketplace existed already, but it was small, publishers weren't investing in it, and they only released a small catalog of e-books at the same high prices as hardcovers. And finally, digital movies and TV: Content creators were risk-averse, and they weren't interested in licensing shows or movies to digital service providers like Amazon.

The music business really seemed to be calling. In December 2004, Jeff, Steve, and I attended Music 2.0, a digital music industry conference at the Hilton hotel in Universal City. We listened to a number of speakers, one of whom was Larry Kenswil, a senior executive at Universal Music, who spoke about the current state of the digital music business, which at that time was divided into two camps. In one camp were services like Napster that facilitated free file sharing. By itself in the other camp was Apple, selling songs to load onto the iPod for 99 cents each. Larry was eager for more big tech companies to enter the business, as that would mean more revenue for Universal Music. He obviously knew that we were in the audience, because he made a few comments pointed directly at Jeff, effectively dissing Amazon for not being in the digital music space and prodding us to jump in fast.

One of the decisions we had to make in that first year was whether to build a business or to buy a company already operating in that space. We had many meetings with Jeff where Steve and I would present our ideas for our music product or a company we might acquire. Each time we had these meetings, Jeff would reject what he saw as copycat thinking, emphasizing again and again that it had to offer a truly unique value proposition for the customer. He would frequently describe the two fundamental approaches that each company must choose between when developing new products and services. We could be a fast follower — i.e., make a close copy of successful products that other companies had built—or we could invent a new product on behalf of our customers. He said that either approach was valid but that he wanted Amazon to be a company that invents. In other words, as he also emphasized, people like the exec who'd baited him at the digital music conference wouldn't drive our process. He didn't want to simply build copycat versions of products like the iPod and the iTunes store, nor did he care about making a PR splash by announcing to the public that Amazon had arrived in the digital business. He chose the path of invention because true invention leads to greater long-term value for customers and shareholders.

Related: Looking for a Business Idea? Turn What Other People Complain About Into an Opportunity.

My team and I quickly learned that invention is a more challenging path than fast following. The road map for fast following is relatively clear — you simply study what your competitor has built and make a copy. But there's no road map for invention. It requires you to bushwhack and forge into uncharted terrain, scout out a variety of possible product ideas, and build the roads yourself.

Jeff zeroed in on the fundamental difference between the digital media retail business and our existing physical media retail business. Our competitive advantage in physical media was based on having the broadest selection of items available on a single website. But this could not be a competitive advantage in digital media, where the barrier to entry was pretty low. Any company, whether a well-funded startup or an established enterprise, could match our offering. In those days, while it took time and it wasn't easy, any company could build an e-book store or a 99 cent music download store, where they offered the same breadth and depth of books and songs as every other digital download store. We couldn't meet Jeff's requirement that our digital business have a distinct and differentiated offering just on selection and aggregation.

The digital world also undercut another one of our advantages. Compared to other retailers, we'd been able to offer consistently low prices in part because of our lower cost structure. (Which is to say, we had no stores.) But that wasn't a factor in digital. The process and costs associated with hosting and serving digital files were basically the same whether you were Amazon, Google, Apple, or a startup. There was no known fundamental difference that would allow one company to gain a competitive advantage and win over the long term by having lower digital media operating costs and passing those savings on to the consumer in the form of lower digital media prices.

Early on, Jeff drew a version of this picture on the whiteboard to make his point clear:

He explained that there was an important difference in the digital media value chain, as well. In physical retail, Amazon operated at the middle of the value chain. We added value by sourcing and aggregating a vast selection of goods, tens of millions of them, on a single website and delivering them quickly and cheaply to customers.

Related: 7 Common Questions About Self-Publishing on Amazon

To win in digital, because those physical retail value-adds were not advantages, we needed to identify other parts of the value chain where we could differentiate and serve customers well. He told Steve that this meant moving out of the middle and venturing out to either end of the value chain. On one end was content, where the value creators were book authors, filmmakers, TV producers, publishers, record companies, and movie studios. On the other end were distribution and consumption of content. For us that meant focusing on applications and devices that consumers used to read, watch, or listen to content, just as Apple had already done with iTunes and the iPod.

This all made sense. But there was a problem: Our core competencies did not extend to either end of the value chain.

Steve did not let this get in the way. In one of our meetings, he said that a typical company that wanted to grow would take stock of its existing capabilities and ask, "What can we do next with our skill set?" He emphasized that Amazon's approach was always to start from the customer and work backwards. We would figure out what the customers' needs were and then ask ourselves, "Do we have the skills necessary to build something that meets those needs? If not, how can we build or acquire them?"

That's what led us to our big idea.


So there we were: stuck in the middle, with Amazon's historic advantages suddenly looking like disadvantages. We had to do more than just serve things that others could serve, too. And although we had started this journey because of digital music, Jeff ultimately decided that there was a bigger opportunity elsewhere. It was e-books.

There were multiple reasons for this. Music may have been the first category to move to digital in the marketplace, but Apple had a big head start, and we hadn't conceived of a music device or service idea that was compelling enough to make a big investment in. Video had not gone digital yet, which seemed like an opportunity, but the barriers were just too high. Getting the rights from studios would be difficult, and most consumers didn't have internet fast enough to stream massive video files.

But e-books were a different story. Books were still the single largest category at Amazon and the one most associated with the company. Also, the e-book business as a whole was tiny; there was no good way to read books on a device other than a PC (and reading on a PC was definitely not a good experience). Based on the success of iTunes/iPod for music, we believed that customers would want the e-book equivalent: an app paired with a mobile device that offered consumers any book ever written, available at a low price, that they could buy, download, and start reading in seconds.

Related: Manage the Status Quo or Lead the Disruption

When we worked backwards from the customers' needs with digital books, it became apparent that we needed to invent a device ourselves, even though it might take years, and even though we had no experience in hardware. As Jeff would say, "What could possibly be more important than reinventing the book itself?"

I'll be honest: At the beginning, this didn't make sense to me. "We're an e-commerce company, not a hardware company!" I would insist. I thought we should partner with third-party equipment companies that were good at designing and building hardware and stick to what we knew: e-commerce. I kept telling Steve that he knew nothing about hardware — he wasn't a gadget guy, and his ancient Volvo didn't even have a car stereo!

But Steve countered well. He reminded me that we'd developed and stress-tested many ideas, and it was clear that, to deliver a book buying and reading experience that would delight customers, we needed to build an e-book store and a reader that was deeply integrated with a reading device. Through our research, we knew that relying on third parties, while operationally and financially less risky, was much riskier from the point of view of customer experience. If we start with the customer and work backwards, then the most logical conclusion is that we need to create our own devices.

The second point he made was that, like any company at a crossroads, if you decide that the long-term success and survival of the company is predicated on having a specific capability you do not have today, then the company must have a plan to build or buy it. If we wanted to ensure a great customer experience that was differentiated on the far end of the value chain, we couldn't outsource the project. We had to do it ourselves.

So we got going, knowing it wouldn't be easy but that the potential rewards were great. In September 2004, Steve hired Gregg Zehr, a Silicon Valley veteran who had been a VP of hardware engineering at Palm Computing and Apple. He set up a separate office in Silicon Valley, not Seattle, in order to tap into the Silicon Valley technical talent pool. In parallel, two experienced and trusted Amazon engineering VPs established and hired software engineering teams in Seattle to build the cloud or back-end systems. In April 2005, we acquired Mobipocket, a small company based in France that had built a software application for viewing and reading books on PCs and mobile devices.

Related: Why Amazon and Jeff Bezos Are So Successful at Disruption

At some point, early in the process, a name for the device emerged: Kindle.

By the middle of 2005, it became clear that this project was taking much longer and consuming more funds than we had anticipated. During one finance team review, there was a heated discussion about the surprising ramp-up in expenses. At some point in the debate, someone asked Jeff point-blank, "How much more money are you willing to invest in Kindle?"

As I remember the scene, Jeff calmly turned to our CFO, Tom Szkutak, smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and asked the rhetorical question, "How much money do we have?"

That was his way of signaling the strategic importance of Kindle and assuring the team that he was not putting the company at risk with the size of the investment. In Jeff's view, it was way too early to give up on the project.

We all know what happened next. The Kindle debuted to the world in 2007, four years after that sushi meeting with Steve Jobs. It sold out in less than six hours. Amazon was never the same. 

From Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon, by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. Copyright © 2021 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Tesla's odd new 'steering yoke' has polarized the internet and auto industry experts - Business Insider - Business Insider

Posted: 28 Jan 2021 10:21 AM PST

  • Tesla's polarizing new 'steering yoke' has sparked debate online. 
  • Some say the steering wheel is forward thinking and futuristic, while others argue it's impractical. 
  • The yoke will be in redesigned Model X crossovers and Model S sedans arriving later this year. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

After nearly a decade on the market, the Tesla Model S is getting its first major overhaul. And in predictable Tesla fashion, the changes are causing a stir online. 

In its fourth-quarter earnings release Wednesday, Tesla announced a redesigned Model S sedan and Model X crossover would arrive later this year and showed off a new interior with a radical update.

The refreshed models, which Tesla said will start shipping next month, sport an odd, rectangular 'steering yoke' that looks more like something you'd find in a race car or an airplane's cockpit than in a luxury electric vehicle. 

The surprise redesign spurred controversy online, with most of the debate centered around the steering wheel. 

Many of Tesla's loyal fans predictably applauded what they characterized as a bold, ambitious design.

Gene Munster, a managing partner at Loup Ventures and one of Wall Street's biggest Tesla bulls, called the steering wheel "futuristic looking" and said "Tesla is forward thinking and masterful in its design" in a Wednesday tweet

Other supporters pointed out that the steering wheel won't be all that necessary once Tesla's "full self-driving" feature — which, in reality, doesn't make its cars autonomous — hits the market.

"The half steering wheel is so you can see the screen. You don't need to drive really... FSD," tweeted Ross Gerber, an investment advisor and outspoken Tesla fan. "I'm telling you these will sell like hot cakes. Huge positive catalyst for Tesla," he added

Read more: 5 EV battery startups poised to challenge Panasonic and LG Chem for dominance of a $129 billion market

Others, however, took issue with the decision: "Looks cool, most likely detrimental," one Twitter user said. "Steering wheels have been circular for the past century for a reason."

Marques Brownlee, a popular tech YouTuber who has owned multiple Teslas, also chimed in: "That steering wheel... not so sure it's a good idea?" he tweeted.

Many in automotive media took shots at the yoke, pointing out that, on top of its unusual looks, it's wildly impractical.

According to The Drive, "actually using a yoke-style wheel in a car is supremely irritating," because there's no way to comfortably spin the wheel all the way around when parking or making tight turns. It's not clear yet whether Tesla has adjusted the steering ratio to account for that issue. 

Some auto industry experts argued that the flashy new steering wheel proves that Tesla is out of ideas. 

Edward Niedermeyer, the communications director at the nonprofit Partners for Automated Vehicle Education and the author of "Ludicrous," a book on Tesla's history, said the radical new design signals that Tesla is losing steam and that it's dealing with more market pressure to innovate than before.

"This company is all out of ideas, and can only double down on a hollow 'futurist' aesthetic at the expense of actual UX," Niedermeyer tweeted on Thursday.

"This refresh isn't the worst thing ever but it does dramatically illustrate how constrained Tesla is in terms of its ability to take on the competition. The big winner is definitely Lucid, who can now launch into a maturing premium EV market from a position of strength."

5 Business ideas you can start online with only a laptop and internet - TechGenyz

Posted: 19 Aug 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Did Covid-19 catch you unawares as it did to me? I think it did the whole world. No one can claim they anticipated its impact. It came as a joke, yet brought governments and nations to their knees. Lockdown became the order of the day, nation after nation. Big companies lost business and people couldn't go to work anymore.

Everyone had to resort to the internet for solace. If you are used to waking up early and going to work, staying at home every day can be sickening. Most business people had to think of ways to do their business online. Besides, it is cheap and doesn't call for expensive operations like buying an industrial robotic arm. You need just a laptop and internet.

Are you also thinking of what you can do online? I can tell you, most people are searching for online opportunities. Covid-19 has taught us that employment is not guaranteed. Actually, as we talk, most people have lost jobs since companies have no money. Come with me as we delve deeper into online opportunities available.

Freelance writing 

Writers have made money during this pandemic. They write content for magazines, websites, blogs, and e-books. You will have to first have writing samples to showcase to your prospective clients. You can talk to magazine or blog owners and ask if they need a writer.

Advertising your writing skills on social media is a good start too. Keep learning online different writing styles. Also, perfect your English or any language you will be using to write. If you are multilingual, you are likely to sign a client faster.

Translation 

If you can speak a number of languages, then think of monetizing it. Let your friends and family know your skill and ask for referrals. Also, open a Facebook page and clearly state your translating skills. If you can focus on a specific sector like medical, financial, health, or spiritual translation, then you might easily find a job. Opening a website that clearly states your translation service will be a great move too.

Online teaching 

Covid-19 caused schools to close. Can you imagine seeing your adolescent seated idle for weeks and months? You don't want them to resort to behaviors that can be detrimental to their future. After all, an idle mind is a devil's workshop.

Credit: @tabithabrooke | Unsplash

This has compelled most parents to search for online teaches that can keep their children busy. If you can teach English, Math, science or any other subject, then let people know. You can begin with your own children if you have them or those of the neighbors.

Digital marketer 

A digital marketer will market the products or services of your clients. Reach out to business owners and offer them solutions that can help grow their business. You can also open and manage their social media platforms by keeping their followers engaged.

Credit: @campaign_creators | Unsplash

You can also post interesting pictures and videos to let people comment and participate. Then ask them to buy your products or let them know of discounts your client is offering. 

Videography 

Are you a skilled videographer? You can take your business far and wide by venturing online. Post videos you have taken. Ask people their views on the videos you post. It will help you to know areas that need improvement.

Credit: @chrisyangchrisfilm | Unsplash

However, you will need to purchase equipment, which can be costly depending on the type and brand. Open a website for your videography business where people can contact or learn about your business. 

Last word 

Online business is the way to go. If you are still stuck in the conventional way of doing business, then you are losing out. You are limiting yourself to only walk-in customers. Yet if you go online, then you are open to the whole world. Moreover, it's quite affordable. All you need is a reliable internet connection and a laptop plus the product or service you are selling. I wish you luck in your online business venture. 

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive commision from the purchase made via the affiliate links placed on this page. We have a consistent editorial voice and the commission we receive does not influence our editorial policy, the content or topics. Please read our disclosure policy for more details.

How Reddit day traders are using the platform to upend the stock market and make money in the process - Business Insider

Posted: 27 Jan 2021 06:12 PM PST

WallStreetBets
  • Retail investors on Reddit are boosting GameStop shares in defiance of hedge funds and investing norms.
  • Members of the group Wall Street Bets have formed a snowballing momentum trade as posts go viral.
  • One expert sees the unconventional rally as a sign "the institutions are losing some control."
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Like Bitcoin, Tesla, and the SPAC IPO, the Reddit forum r/wallstreetbets grew exponentially in 2020. In the first weeks of 2021, it discovered just how strong it's become.

The subreddit's subscriber count ballooned by 133% to 1.8 million members last year. Growth accelerated further this month, and the forum's 2.2 million current members now drive one of the platform's most active pages.

Members have spent the past three weeks bidding up the video game retailer GameStop, and the results have been spectacular. Shares have skyrocketed more than 1,200% since Wall Street Bets first piled in January 11. Their overwhelming bullishness has fueled billions of dollars in losses for short-sellers. One bear has even stopped commenting on GameStop stock, citing harassment from some members.

Wall Street Bets has done this before. Options-obsessed members have boasted about trading everything from newly bankrupt car-rental giants to now-delisted Chinese café chains. They're particularly big fans of electric-vehicle stocks; Tesla enjoys unique enthusiasm on the forum.

Yet previous Reddit-fueled rallies typically lasted a matter of days before profit-taking pulled prices back to earth. The subreddit's obsession with GameStop shows no signs of abating. Simply put, the subreddit amplified a trade, stoked a fear of missing out that pulled in new investors, and reveled in Wall Street's surprise.

Here's how the snowballing trade was born.

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Monetizing the meme

Reddit promotes itself as "the front page of the internet." Part social media, part news aggregator, part discussion forum, the platform hosts a diverse set of communities ranging from r/worldnews to r/babyelephantgifs. Posts and comments are public, and those that receive the most positive votes, or "upvotes," from other users are featured most prominently.

On r/wallstreetbets, members frequently brag about outsize gains - and, in some cases, losses - and make a mockery out of risky trading behavior. Some posts garner so many upvotes they are elevated to r/popular, the constantly updated subreddit that flaunts the day's posts with the most interaction.

During the GameStop-trade saga, several Wall Street Bets posts with tens of thousands of upvotes have graced the pseudo-hall-of-fame page. Countless users unfamiliar with Wall Street Bets have been exposed to its exuberance and high-risk, high-reward behavior, often through posts showing off multimillion-dollar gains on GameStop shares.

The core behavior seen in the market isn't unheard of. Richard Smith, the CEO of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, told Insider that GameStop's rally was "absolutely" a momentum trade, just one operating in a "very compressed time frame." A momentum trade is generally characterized by investors continuing to pile into a proven winner.

The first few days of gains saw Wall Street Bets members cheer the rally and beg more to join in. Posts made it to r/popular, Wall Street Bets members gained online infamy, more casual investors were introduced to the trend, and a cycle began.

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"This is a human emotional cycle," Smith added. "And now you have more people at home and spending more time on their devices. It's all fuel for the acceleration of these sentiment cycles."

There's also financial gain to be had for those pursuing internet notoriety. Reddit users can award posts and comments with various virtual medals, many of which can be gifted only through the use of real-world currency.

Sneering memes can pull in a few dollars' worth of awards. Others rake in small fortunes. The week's most popular Wall Street Bets post - bragging about an alleged 992% return on GameStop options - received a cool $765 worth of awards, according to an online program that estimates the real-world value of Reddit points.

'The institutions are losing some control'

Reddit's structure and the democratic nature of users picking the most popular content differs wildly from Wall Street's research reports and market analysis. Yet both generate trade ideas that proliferate across market participants. And Wall Street Bets' ability to turn free, user-produced research into hugely viral media has seemingly been underestimated.

"You have these media-driven platforms where the media isn't controlled by the institutions in the way that it has historically been," Smith said. "It's really a sign that the institutions are losing some control."

Many Wall Street Bets members advertise the GameStop trade as a surefire way to post quick gains, so long as they keep the bullish faith.

They've largely been right. After shares experienced their initial pop roughly two weeks ago, gains have continued in pronounced fashion and amounted to more than 300% this week alone, through Tuesday's close.

Others rally investors to the cause by posing the GameStop trade as an antiestablishment movement, a middle finger to an industry that underestimates Redditors' influence. They proclaim that, with fee-free trading platforms, easily accessible margin, and enough allies, they can beat the funds that have dominated Wall Street for so long.

They, too, have something to show for themselves. The hedge fund Melvin Capital will receive a $2.75 billion investment from Citadel and Point72 Asset Management after losing roughly 30% on its GameStop short, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"When you are able to feel like you're a rebel going against the establishment, that's a very powerful emotion," Smith said. "It's absolutely part of what is contributing to this gain stock event."

He continued: "You read the language on the message board, it's very 'us against them.' That's so powerful."

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

An engineer-turned global macro investor breaks down why bitcoin is so volatile - and shares 3 reasons why she remains bullish about the digital asset

One measure shows the stock market is still affordable at current levels - but investors should avoid these 3 bubble-like pockets, Goldman Sachs says

Microsoft will leap another 20% as cloud-computing strength drives strong earnings, Wedbush says

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