By Colette Broomhead

If you follow the entrepreneurial world online, then you could be forgiven for thinking that there is just one secret ingredient for a successful business. You know what I’m talking about – it’s in all those Facebook ads by people who have made their 6 and 7 figure businesses in just weeks, with this ‘one simple formula’…

I must confess, that so far, that particular secret eludes me. Instead, I want to share with you somemore practical ‘secrets’ to building a successful online business. I should warn you, they’re not sexy (well not unless you find alliteration as alluring as I do), but they will get the job done.

1. Planning

Look, we all know that we need to plan, but how many of us actually do it? I’m not just talking about setting your annual goals at the start of the year to ‘make more money’ and then leaving them in a drawer to gather dust. No, the ‘planning’ I’m referring to is all about getting real clarity of purpose. What is your business there to achieve? Who are you there to serve? What change are you there to bring about? By answering some of those key questions you can really begin to get to the nitty-gritty of what you should be spending your time on each day. Yep – each DAY should be planned out. Every activity that you spend your precious time on should be leading you towards your purpose and your goals.

Without this type of planning, the chances are you’re going to waste a whole bunch of time that you really can’t afford to waste.

2. Profit

Well, duh! I know this seems obvious (hopefully!), but it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs get so caught up in the excitement and passion of setting up a business, that they completely forget to actually sell.

While in your planning phase, the very first goal you should be setting is your revenue target. Once you know how much you want to earn, it’s so much more straightforward to plan out what you need to sell and of course, how you’re going to do it.

Don’t forget we’re talking PROFIT here though. Keep a close eye on that cash flow – hint: you need more coming in than going out. ;)

3. Product

We’ve established that making sales is important, but don’t be so focused on bringing in the dollar bills that you neglect to create an excellent product or service. The best way to build a brand, to grow your credibility and to make sales is to provide real value to your customers.

Don’t second guess what they want – ask them! Do surveys, get feedback, run beta tests and create something that your ideal clients need. They’ll love you for it!

4. People

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. For many, that can be part of the reason for choosing this life. No office politics, no awkward conversations with colleagues you don’t really like, no endless meetings to discuss what you’re going to discuss in the next meeting…

That being said, even the most introverted of introverts still need a support network. We need people around us who understand what we’re doing and why, and who believe we’ll succeed (even when we don’t).

Hopefully (but not always) you’ll get that support from your family and friends, but they can never fully understand the entrepreneurial rollercoaster ride that you’re on right now. That’s why it’s so important to find a community of fellow entrepreneurs who you can share your frustrations, your wins and your knowledge and experience with.

We tend to be a proud bunch, thinking we can go it alone but the value of being part of a like-minded community who just ‘get it’ is immeasurable.

5. Persistence

I don’t care what those Facebook ads say, building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. Reaching 6 figures in 6 months is not the norm – not by a long shot. If you’re in it to get rich quick, then prepare to be disappointed, my friend.

You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to feel like a failure. You’re going to look around at all the other businesses out there and feel like you’ll never match up.

That’s when it’s gut-check time. You have a plan, you’ve got your eye on the prize, you care about your product and you’re surrounded by people who build you up rather than knock you down.

You’ve got this.