As the President of the Association of Web Entrepreneurs, I help entrepreneurs create systems and automate their online businesses so they can make more money and enjoy more freedom in their lives. Here are 4 things you must do to build a strong foundation as you grow your online company. Skip one of these and you simply won\’t be able to create a long-term sustainable online business.

1. You Must Find Your Ideal Target Market

When someone visits your website or reads your marketing materials, one of the very first things they think is: “Is this service or product for me?” They want to know if your business or your services are designed for people like them and they want to know if you understand them, if you\’ve worked with people like them before, and if you appreciate their situation and problems. This is huge! To define your ideal target market, here are some questions that you can ask yourself–it\’s kind of a fun way to do it and what I find is that a lot of business owners in the start-up phase don\’t think about who they love being around. They think about who they\’re going to sell to, who is going to want this, instead of thinking more about who they would actually serve well. So here are some questions to ask yourself about your potential target market:

  • What type of people do you love being around?
  • What do they like to do?
  • What do they talk about?
  • Who do these types of people associate with?
  • Are they smiling, are they outgoing, are they creative?

2. You Must Create a Community
You have to create a reason for your ideal clients to visit your website and purchase your products and services over and over again. That reason is a community. Solid businesses are built on relationships. Creating a community in your business (through blogs, forums, e-zine interviews and Q & A, physical events, and so on) allows you to build long-term relationships with your customers and it helps them to get to know you. This is especially important on the Internet. Online communities also encourage your customers to get to know each other. Many times they will form beneficial partnerships and support each other too. A community gives your customers a place to communicate with one another and to refer others to. And membership-based communities can generate substantial revenues for your business as well. Membership-based communities will also encourage customers to plug back in to your business year after year as long as you are still focusing on their needs/problems.

3. You Must Create a Database
You must have a mechanism in place to store all your potential customers\’ contact information. Intimidated by the thought of creating a database? Please don\’t be, just go to your nearest office supply store and you can purchase a database program for less than $50. Some website providers even have this function built straight into their website. Keeping track of your customers\’ basic information is crucial to the success of your long and short-term sales. At the very least, you must capture (enter) their name, address, and e-mail. You will use this database to quickly and efficiently communicate with your customers through future e-mailings and direct mailings. Add customers to your database by networking (and speaking!) at conferences by simply saying… “I have this free (report, booklet, etc.–something you created that is what every conference attendee would want to read) and I would love to send it to you with my free weekly newsletter.” Just grab their card and put a little check by their e-mail address so that you know you got their permission. Another faster and easier way to build your database is by doing it online. Have a sign-up box on every page of your website for new potential customers. And there are many online services now too that allow you to build a community and build your database at the same time, such as It doesn\’t matter how you build your database, just do it!

4. You Must Have a Call to Action
Busy people need a reason to act now. Whatever your form of communication is with your customer (e-mail, postcards, brochures, website, etc.), it must have a call to action somewhere in it if you want them to stop what they are doing and make purchasing your product or service a priority. Include wording that says \’act now\’ implying that if they don\’t they will miss an important opportunity. And even better is to not imply but be straightforward and tell them exactly what they will miss. The best calls to action include date expirations, liquidation sales, early-bird sales, etc. You can also appeal to them with seasonal calls to action. Taking advantage of New Year\’s resolutions is one example. Using a call to action is a simple technique, but a very powerful one!

Want To Use This Article In Your Ezine or Website? You have my permission, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sheri McConnell ( is the President and Founder of the Association of Web Entrepreneurs ( She helps entrepreneurs discover, create, and profit from their intellectual knowledge! Sheri lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Seth and their four children. Contact her at or her toll free number at 866-361-9938.
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Sheri McConnell ( is the President and Founder of the National Association of Women Writers ( She helps women writers and entrepreneurs discover, create, and profit from their intellectual knowledge! Sheri' lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Seth and their four children-ages 11, 10, 6, and 3 months. Contact her at or her toll free number at 866-821-5829.