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Guest Blog -The Online Opportunity - How To Build A Pandemic-Proof Business - Tim Peakman

We wanted to start sharing more of the amazing businesses and expertise within our community. Read on for the first in our series of guest blogs where we invite members of our community to share their businesses and expertise.

The future is online

There are so many ways to make money online these days, the trick is knowing where to start. The secret? Choose a business model that suits YOU the best.

With events such as the global pandemic and the current opportunities provided by today’s technology, there has never been a better time to start an online business. It’s important to identify what online business models are available and which one would best suit your passion, experience and skill set.

Don’t worry if you’re thinking of starting an online business and haven’t got it all figured out yet. Nobody ventures into any business by having it all figured out, but it’s key to spend some time in the design stage and have a business plan to execute before jumping in head first.

The advantage of a military background

After 16 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF), I thought I had zero business acumen. I spent all my time in the training environment, either as a Physical Training Instructor, or Training Officer. The focus that I worked towards every day was ensuring the RAF had ‘trained personnel’. When it came to completing my military service and looking towards “Civvy Street” - I had no clue where to start, but I knew that I wanted a business online, and the lifestyle that it could enable. 

I honestly didn’t appreciate this at the time, but as a service leaver you will have accrued a vast number of transferable skills. You simply have to find a way of applying these skills to the world of business. I ended up shifting my focus and swapping out my goal of ‘trained personnel’ for ‘online sales’ and got to work. 

Once I had made the decision to leave the British Military, I started creating the time, outside of my core working hours, to learn about the different types of online business, and which one suited me best. This led to me initially choosing to start a physical products business. Over the following 10 years, I gained experience online with agency services, coaching, workshops, memberships and courses.

I now help small, one-person business owners package their knowledge into online, digital programs. The world of digital products and selling your knowledge online I’ve found to be one of the simplest, most cost-effective and scalable business models available.

So if you’re currently serving in the British Military and have plans to start your own online business, specifically within the digital products space, there’s a strong chance this article will help you or give you the direction you seek.

Find a business model that suits you

I always advise new business owners to start small by simply helping one person. If you can get someone great results, then you can repeat this process with others and ultimately scale your business.

The majority of the clients I help today are in the knowledge commerce business. (Knowledge commerce simply means selling your knowledge). So, packaging what they know - their skills, experience, top tips etc - into an online program and serving people digitally.

The digital products or knowledge commerce business model suits my military training background and allows me the flexibility to operate anywhere, at any time and whoever I choose to do business with. All I need is my laptop and an internet connection.

I loved my career in the British military. But it must have been the fact that I spent my entire career being told where to go, what to do and when to do it, that I subconsciously longed for a lifestyle with complete location and time freedom, a life with the agency to choose my next steps. Sound familiar?

How it all fits together

I truly believe that everyone has some level of experience and knowledge that could help others overcome an obstacle they are facing. I like to refer to the Japanese Ikigai model here. It simply means “reason to live” and follows these principles: If you love what you do, are good at it, can monetise it and the world needs it, then that’s your Ikigai. If you have an Ikigai that comes to mind, that is a great place to start exploring as an idea for your online business. 

Ultimately if you want an online business, you need to grow an online audience. The larger an online audience you can ethically build and help with their problems, the larger an online business you can grow. The larger you grow your business, the more impact you can have. The way I grow an audience online is by creating content to get discovered by people looking for solutions. Once it gets discovered, I offer a very logical next step for people to sign up and enter my online world. Then I offer to go deeper with those people who want to learn more from me by showcasing the products and services I have available.

If you can deliver your service or product digitally, then you can serve anyone from anywhere in the world. The method by which you deliver your products all depends on you, the business owner; how you like to serve, and how best to get your clients results. The method of delivery could be anything from a digital course, membership, coaching services or even freelance implementation.

Remember, your online audience doesn’t have to be large for you to start validating your ideas and getting results for your first person. It also doesn’t have to be hard, expensive or time consuming, you don’t need much online technology to serve with coaching or freelancing. In online business often the hardest thing is being vulnerable and having the courage to start, and courage is something service leavers tend to have in abundance.

Embrace the technology

One of the main challenges I see first-time online business owners struggle with is the tech overwhelm. You don’t need much, especially when you’re just starting out. By keeping everything as simple as possible, you will keep your expenses down and be able to run an efficient and effective business. For my online tech, I focus on two main platforms: YouTube (a platform to grow my online audience) and Kajabi (a platform to deliver my online products and services).

There are a bunch of other online tools that you can use in online business, but YouTube and Kajabi are the most important ones for me. Everything else just assists with growing an audience online and creating products and services that they need. The only hardware I need to operate my online business is a laptop, microphone, camera and lighting. 

That’s everything I need to create content on the go, publish it online and serve my audience digitally. A word of warning, don’t fall into the trap of buying the newest, shiniest objects - get the essentials and get started.

The importance of having a community

“Do you miss being in the Military?” This is probably the question that I get asked the most when I meet up with past military colleagues. The answer is always that I miss the community. 

Having a physical in-person community whilst serving in the military is so powerful and not to be taken for granted. Maybe I didn’t realize it at the time, but online communities alone will never completely replace the value of a regular in-person community.

This is where charities like Heropreneurs come in. The chance to be part of an online community of like-minded individuals, with opportunities to meet up in person, is invaluable. Starting anything for the first time is daunting. Starting an online business having come from such a different way of life in the military can be very intimidating. It’s way better to go through this process with as much guidance and support as you can get.

So if you’re serious about starting an online business, my advice would be to use this time to learn as much as you can from individuals in your chosen field so that you can make the transition from military life into online entrepreneurship as smooth and painless as possible.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Your motivation for any startup should be very high, otherwise you are way more likely to give up at the slightest challenge. This isn’t something that you can ‘dip your toe in’ and get great results. It takes time and effort to see the progression, overnight success rarely happens overnight. You should be OK with this from the start.

The road of an online entrepreneur is not all smooth sailing - far from it. You will hit roadblocks. You will make mistakes, but as long as you learn from your mistakes and adapt, you will inevitably succeed - especially if you draw on the transferable skills that the military has instilled in you. Consistency and the self-discipline to keep finding solutions during hard times developed from my time in the RAF has proven to be invaluable.

No single online business model is perfect or will suit everybody. That’s why I can’t prescribe one to you today, as they all come with their own challenges and opportunities. But it’s important to understand these challenges and opportunities, to identify which would suit your unique skill set. For me, a digital products business model is what suits me the best. It also lends itself closely to my background as a trainer and educator. I draw on a lot of my military experience in course design, coaching, planning and educating when I create my own digital products.

If you decide to venture down the road of online business, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to spend time in the design phase. Don’t just start a business without having a plan in place. Learn and understand what your future client needs, ask for support, explore what products you would enjoy delivering online, and do this before you start creating. A word of caution though, don’t get stuck here. Choose your direction and then go test it, it doesn’t have to be right or perfect but there is no business if you don’t start. 

Where to start your online journey

So if you’ve read down this far, well done - you are someone who has attention to detail and sees things through. The chances are that something I’ve written about in this article has resonated with you and you are thinking about, or already have started an online business.

Key indicators that starting a knowledge commerce online business is for you:

  • You’re the type of person who feels like they have something to share with the world.

  • You have experience in a chosen field that you find people naturally ask you to help them with.

  • You are curious about how to make this into something bigger, maybe an online business?

  • You have a passion for helping people, even if you have no idea of where to start, how to build an online audience, or are simply overwhelmed with all the technology you think you need.

If any of these resonate with you, a good place to start is to watch my free Online Revenue Workshop where I explain the 3 fundamental principles every business needs, and how you can start to make your first £1,000 of online revenue. You can get access here –

I also have a bunch of free training videos on my YouTube channel to help you along your journey. Here’s my channel –

If growing an online business is your goal, I hope this article has helped you and given you some inspiration.

Just remember to enjoy the process, no matter the outcome.

Tim Peakman

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