How to Start an Online Business in Pakistan

You will learn HOW to start an online business from Pakistan.

To give you the quickest and the most accurate way of starting an online business form Pakistan, here goes.

  1. Get a few ideas to test for online business. I recommend that you explore your hobbies, your interests, your passions — even your fears, to come up with ideas that you have a deep interest in.
  2. Select the idea which is the easiest to implement. This usually means that there is a ready market for the product that you can make.
  3. Decide on a business model. There are SIX online business models you can use to take your business idea to the customer. For example, you are a designer. You can freelance as a designer, you can be a design consultant,  you can teach others how to design, you can create some software that helps people design better etc. All six business ideas can be seen here (you will also see the best online business to start). You can have all six as well, but it is recommended that you pick the simplest to do, and the most profitable. Out of the six, that becomes online course creation. But yours can be different.
  4. Who is your Single Client? It is best to think of ONE person you are helping walk a path. This exercise helps you get the famed “customer avatar”… you will know whom are you selling to. I usually write down all relevant details of a specific person, friend, cousin whom I know belongs to the target market. People make this very confusing, it doesn’t need to be. But you must be as specific as possible: this helps you define the Path.
  5. What is the Client Path? Imagine your customer’s before state, he then buys from you, and then there’s his after state. What is that path? If you are a website designer, the path is that you get your client from having no online presence to having a place of business on the Internet. This helps you focus on the transformation that you are offering your client. This all will help you later crafting your content strategy and crafting your offer.
  6. Get a website up and ready, make a Facebook page and if you are really up for it, an Instagram page. I will tell you inshAllah in a later step what to put there… because you need a content strategy.
  7. Get a content strategy. What? Let me explain. You write content that solves a problem for your potential customers…and that content is REALLY valuable. And your product, whatever you are offering, becomes the next logical step in the customer journey. It’s OK if you find this confusing at first. Consider this solid tactic: you are a photographer and want to offer wedding photography services. You list down 10 most frequently asked questions that your potential clients have for wedding photographers. You answer each of them on your blog/website. You make mini posts and schedule them to come up on your Instagram. If you are really up for it, you make videos that ANSWER the most burning questions in your potential client’s eyes. And once people consume your content, they develop trust and respect. And that’s when people buy, when they trust you and respect your skill set in solving their problem.
  8. Make sure your product is ready to be purchased. Make sure the whole transaction can take place.
  9. Now you are ready to START working on your online business, get people to interact with your content, see who converts and why, how they react to your product, how you can improve, is the pricing correct, is your product even good enough, etc.

First off, let us clear up one important question.

Is this easy?

One of the most common misconceptions and myths about starting an online business is that we Pakistanis tend to think that it is easy. Starting an online business is, in a LOT of cases, VERY cheap. In many cases, as we will inshAllah see, starting an online business in Pakistan is VERY liberating. And yes, it can also be VERY profitable. But making money online in Pakistan was and is NOT easy.

Whoever told you that either didn’t start a successful / profitable business online from Pakistan, or wants to sell you something and is just “showing you the good side” of things.

We don’t “only show the good” to make a profit. We share everything that you as an entrepreneur MUST know to make the RIGHT decision about YOUR business.

So, what are we dealing with here?

OK, how difficult is this?

You are still reading this. This means you at least want to see HOW difficult this whole online business thing is. Maybe you can make something out of this, right?

Well, yes, you can.

I know a person who loves to cook. She puts authentic recipes online for her blog readers. She also bakes cakes and sells those online as well. She is a mother of four, and is working online like this, for the past few years. Alhumdulillah… her business is profitable and she makes a decent income doing this.

She really works hard to earn a good income, but she is not going to buy that Lambo because of her online business, nor is she vacationing all the time as her online business runs on “auto pilot”.

Not what you were expecting perhaps?

The Impossible Expectations

Aren’t you supposed to earn gabazillions and not work? Because hey it’s all online and you heard a story about a guy who made a site and put up some Google Adsense ads… and that person now just buys the latest BMW 7 Series whenever it comes out, and his total worry now is which color of BMW 7 series would be best. Apart from the fact that the previous sentence was a very long one, the previous sentence was also painfully true: many people have simply impossible expectations from online business. And no, online business doesn’t work like that.

If you are not a master of impossible expectations, then maybe you can be talked to. Maybe you can start an online business, especially from Pakistan.


3 Different Areas of Online Business in Pakistan

There are three distinct areas we need to figure out here.

  1. First, it’s the starting of a business. How does that work? Do you know? Have you asked people who have started businesses? Have you read about people who started businesses?
  2. Then it is an online business as compared to an offline/brick-and-mortar/traditional business. How are the two worlds different? What can we learn right now to start working on our business immediately?
  3. Then there is this thing about starting an online business in Pakistan. Pakistan is a third world country and while most infrastructure is available, some are painfully absent. Simple things like, “how to accept credit card payments” become quite a problem, and buying cameras and audio equipment to record business content etc becomes needlessly a hassle.

Starting a Business

Starting a business is different from running a business. An incredibly large number of people mistakenly take tactics of a “grown up” business and try to apply it to a “new” business. It’s like expecting a new born baby to behave like an adult. The results are disastrous. So we first must be careful in knowing which advice fits which stage of the business.

Also, starting a business is always going to be risky. Because a business tries to do something different. An entrepreneur risks his/her money to bring an idea to life. This is not easy. An entrepreneur must look into different areas of starting a business, and in many cases do those tasks himself. That’s why an entrepreneur who is successful, is an entrepreneur who is more well rounded and more skilled than others.

An Online Business

An online business is massively different than a traditional business.This is because the online business uses the Internet and the Internet gives you two things that were not present before:

  1. Mobility
  2. Distribution

These two things are at such a massive scale when it comes to the Internet, that it becomes a matter of deciding where to sell your products and where not to.

Geography is a “fluid” concept when it comes to the Internet: Traditionally, you open a shop and your potential clients are in a geographical limit. A lot of people take about a 25 kms radius and use that as potential client base for retail businesses. That figure becomes irrelevant when it comes to an online business, because you can reach a lot of more people in different parts of your city, people who may be interested in buying your services.

Navigating the technology is easier than you think: An online business is inherently based on technology, so you as a business owner must know how to navigate the tech world. This doesn’t mean you need training in IT systems, but you do need to be ready to learn. Nowadays, the internet technologies have matured. You don’t need to know HTML, CSS, PHP or SQL to edit your online web pages or make customer entries in your online databases. You can use the powerful Content Managment System (CMS) like WordPress. If you can operate a word processor like Microsoft Word, you can run WordPress, which means you can run the entire business operation. So knowing IT is not that big an issue these days, IF you have the right training on WordPress.

Which brings us to the point about your website.

Your website is your place of business. This means that the days of considering your website as some form of a glorified digital brochure are over. The website is a place of business and requires as much attention as a physical retail location. When you start comparing your website to a retail location, you realize immediately how cheap everything really is, and how simple it is to communicate with your potential and existing customers.

So yes, treat your website not as a brochure where you put in information and that’s it. But think about it as a retail shop, with traffic coming in, and you designing the pages with clear objectives in mind, as to “What do I want the visitor to do when she enters the page”… this give you clarity when designing your online user experience.