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Introduction

GrowthLab’s Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business

GrowthLab’s Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business

Escape the 9-5 and start an online business that pays you to live the life you want. Work from anywhere, make your own hours, and get paid even as you spend time with friends and family.

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That's not hype. It's the new business reality. I know, because I did it.

You don’t need an MBA, venture capital, or special connections to start an online business.

With a small amount of money and time, you can create an online — even automated — business that serves the roaring ocean of people on the internet.

Millions of people willing to pay you.… if you can solve their problems.

Maybe you’re the person that friends come to for relationship advice. Maybe you’re a whiz with Excel. Or have great taste in fashion.

You can turn skills you already have into a profitable online business. Then scale it to earn as much as you want, automatically.

I know, because I’ve done it. And I’ve shown thousands of others how to do the same.

Who am I?

I’m Ramit Sethi, New York Times best-selling author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and GrowthLab. I’ve been featured in Fortune and Forbes Magazine, as well as a long list of media, including the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, NPR, and more.

For the past 12 years, I’ve helped thousands of students to create their own profitable online businesses and taught hundreds of thousands of people live a Rich Life using psychology, systems, tough love, and no-B.S. action steps.

My 6-page Feature in Fortune (left) and me next to Warren Buffett in Forbes (right)

Success Story

Bryce Conway

The "frazzled entrepreneur" who went from $500 to $14,706/month and built an online business that runs by itself.

Read the story

Bryce Conway: the “frazzled entrepreneur” who went from $500 to $14,706/month and built an online business that runs by itself.

Why start an online business?

I started my blog in 2004 when I was studying at Stanford. Back then, it was just an ugly blog that no one read.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I created my first online product: A $4.95 ebook that I was afraid to sell because I didn’t want to seem “salesy.” It was the first time I charged readers for my material. They responded by calling me a “sellout” and saying I “jumped the shark.”

My old ugly blog
My old blog

Fast forward to today, that blog has become a multimillion-dollar business. We’ve launched over 18 successful products — including courses on career development, psychology, fitness, cooking, and freelancing. And we’ve built a business with over 30,000 paying customers.

Ramit Sethi at Stanford
Me at Stanford

Our online business revenue growth from 2009-2014

But most importantly, the company I started has more documented success stories than anyone else I know of — more than 20,000 at last count. You can see some of them at GrowthLab.com.

I’m not telling you this to brag. But there’s a lot of horrible information out there about online business. Some of it is even dangerous. If you want to avoid it, you need to be able to trust the person giving you advice.

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The dark side of online business

If you’re like me, you’ve seen a million sites promising to help you get rich quick. Or posting cheesy inspirational quotes about success while their own business struggles.

But some of the most dangerous information comes from the countless blogs that focus on the minutia of starting an online business. The ones that say, “You have to start a podcast! And get on social media! And don’t forget to learn SEO!”

It’s overwhelming. Following that advice leaves you spinning your wheels, not getting anywhere. You’re stuck in Marketing Tactical Hell.

The Online Business Dream vs. Nightmare

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can start an online business that’s genuine, authentic to you, and provides real value. Just like thousands of my other students. This guide will show you exactly how to get started.

Who this guide to starting an online business is for

Anyone can WANT something. Few will actually take action on it. Tweet This

This guide won’t take your online business from zero to $100,000 overnight. Instead, it will show you the first steps in building an artisanal business that provides real value to your clients.

We won’t be singing kumbaya around a fire. I’m sharing battle-proven strategies and insights discovered by our team of successful internet entrepreneurs, our students, and the friends we’ve made building this company from a tiny blog to a multimillion-dollar business.

You will find the material, tools, and mindsets to start a business that gives you:

Freedom

Work from wherever you want to. For example, all I need to run my business is a laptop — anywhere in the world.

Time

Once your online business is set up, you can build systems so it keeps bringing in revenue — even if you’re asleep or on vacation.

Flexibility

Some people prefer to keep their online business small. For some, that means an extra $1,000/month (or $10,000/month). Others want to grow their business big, building a team to scale to millions of dollars a year. We can help you at every level since we’ve been there.

Here's what we'll cover in the free guide to starting an online business

Part 2: Proof you can have a successful online business

Part 2: Proof you can have a successful online business

Let’s say you have a goal of making $100,000/year with your online business. Sound daunting? You can do it. It’s not magic, it’s math. The key is to stop thinking in terms of trading your time for money and start thinking of systems. That’s what an online business is — a sales machine that does the work for you.

Take Me To Part 2
Part 3: Online business models to start a low-cost, high-profit business

Part 3: Online business models to start a low-cost, high-profit business

Before you start an online business, you’ve got to decide what type of online business is right for you. There are 6 major online business models the average person can use. Some give you huge profit margins and scale easily. Others require a lot of time and are difficult to grow. I’ve tested them all, so let’s walk through them real quick.

Take Me To Part 3
Part 4: Success mindsets: How to become the type of entrepreneur who makes 6-figures online

Part 4: Success mindsets: How to become the type of entrepreneur who makes 6-figures online

You don’t need a ton of time to create a successful online business. You don’t need a Harvard MBA or some other fancy piece of paper. You just need a computer, an idea, and to overcome 3 common fears. In this section, we’re going to dismantle all three of those seemingly massive barriers to becoming a top online entrepreneur, one-by-one.

Take Me To Part 4
Part 5: Finding your successful online business idea

Part 5: Finding your successful online business idea

If you Google “online business ideas” right now, you’ll see thousands of results. So if online business ideas are so easy to come by, why is finding the right one so hard? Answer: Because you don’t just need any old idea. You need to know if your idea is (a) something you’re passionate about and (b) is profitable (so you don’t waste your time).

Take Me To Part 5
Part 6: Technology toolbox: Simple tools to make your first $10,000 online

Part 6: Technology toolbox: Simple tools to make your first $10,000 online

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what to do and where to go to get your first website up and running. Then, you’ll get the list of technology tools I used to turn a blog that sold nothing into a multimillion-dollar business. This guide will save you a ton of time down the road. And show you how simple and easy building an online business can be.

Take Me To Part 6
Part 7: Next steps: From Zero to Launch

Part 7: Next steps: From Zero to Launch

At this point, you’ve learned some of the key tools, mindsets, and strategies you need to create your own online business. Whether you want a business that makes an extra $1,000/month, or $10,000/month so you can leave your full-time job and work from anywhere, you can do it. And that means learning more advanced strategies.

Take Me To Part 7