What does it take to become an online millionaire?

What does it take to become an online millionaire?

Let us start a website and become millionaires!

That is the opening line of a conversation I have had a hundred times.  Although I think it is the wrong approach to become a sustainable online business I want to discuss the issue from a perspective of what type of skills one need to reach that point.

First of all let us set the tone right. To succeed in online business is hard! Looking at the end result one might think it is easy but it is not. When I show my parents different websites and discuss their success I usually get the comment from that it is just pages with text and some sort of function. How hard could it be for anyone to do this?

It is hard to explain to them the knowledge and hours put into the website. After so many years they actually still do not truly understand what I do for a living. The easiest way to give them a picture on how complex things are is to consider pure online companies which employ hundreds or thousand of employees working on just one single website.

Even for people within the business who dream of becoming the next online sensation many underestimate what it takes to get there. If you truly want to be long term in your online investment you need several different skill sets. I thought I would list these to show the complexity of the issue. Here is my list of skills you need.

  1. Programmers, fronted and backend. Without programmers you are not going anywhere. It very common that programmers with an idea start successful online businesses. When they get to a certain point though their need the skills are not enough. Look at Google, both Sergei Brin and Larry Page were brilliant minds, but to grow their company they needed many other skillsets.
  2. Conversion people with web analytics skills. Of course these people are your most valuable (biased as I am) since they will help you increase your bottom line revenues. Read my post about this role here.
  3. SEO people with PPC skills. Getting “free” traffic through search engines, paid and unpaid, is usually the most profitable traffic. High converting and cheap. You need though to be on top of things because the search engines do changes all the time.
  4. Social media care takers. Social media might transform but it is not going away. It is already a very important channel for many businesses and it also strongly influate with your SEO strategy.
  5. Mobile strategy project managers that can drive your mobile strategy. The web is morphing into mobile usage and it will sooner or later impact every online business.
  6. Marketing people that take care or your affiliate network, banner investment and other marketing initiative such as competitions.
  7. Editors. Someone has to write your content, and your content sets the tone of your website and your traffic driving initiatives.
  8. Project managers that are both technical and with business skills. When you grow you will get to a point where you have departments of people and someone has to coordinate the marketing with the technological development.
  9. BI/analytics people that give you the knowledge of what users do and who are your most profitable customers are. Depending on your business model you need to know certain things about your customers.
  10. Visionary leader. All the above skills will execute the strategy the leader has set. Of course the vision can come out of a group of people but when the company grows someone has to be in charge. It is certain that you will get through highs and lows and the lows are the hard part. This is where a visionary leader that can inspire comes into place.

As you can see the number of skill set are at least ten. I might have forgotten some but starting and driving a successful online business is harder than most people think. Depending on which phase your company is you will be required to add more and more skills. This is why many companies sooner or later will demand capital to grow just like Google or Facebook. Of course I am not saying you need all these roles from the very beginning but sooner or later you will get to point where if you want to work professionally you need to add skill sets.

Hopefully you understand that becoming an online millionaire is not that easy, not that I think anyone has any illusions but when you see something on black and white it can become food for thought.

What do you think, do you agree with me or not? What is your experience with this topic?



One response

  1. Good subject.
    I think you need to make the distinction between becoming an online millionaire as a “user” (think poker player, etc.) or as a “service provider” (think Google, FB, etc.), or as a “scammer” (professional e-mail spammer, hacker, etc.).

    I guess you mean in your topic how to become a millionaire as an Internet focused service provider, providing a service (Google), or sales channel (Amazon, etc.), or a function (online payment functionality) – correct?

    The principle is easy: invent a new or disruptive service/ function that delivers far more value at a much lower price and much faster than any competitive concept; make it really easy to use; get the best people you can buy; get friendly and tolerant and wealthy investors with deeeeeep pockets; pour sufficient cash into marketing to hype the project, build a critical mass of buyers, focus on buyers (users), and finalize with an IPO. Easy. 🙂

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