Imagine you ran into an old friend who was starting a new business and the conversation went something like this: "I just opened a new business last week! I've been dreaming about it for years, and working behind-the-scenes to get ready for months, but we're finally open!"
"That's great!" you say, "What do you have for sale at your new business?” and your friend responds "Oh, for sale? You mean like products? No, I'm not ready to sell products yet. I'm waiting until enough people show up and stick around long enough to show interest. Once I have enough people walk through my door, then I will start selling products!"
You can imagine the disaster just around the corner. Would you be surprised if the business closed down within a few months? Think through the grand opening celebration, as the owner cuts the red ribbon, and then the excited (and curious) crowd walks in the doors to discover... empty shelves? Blank walls? Maybe a few choice notes of reflection from the owner hung on the wall?
That's no way to open a business, and yet, it is exactly how most people get started online.
Right now, if a crowd of curious customers went to your website, what could they buy? Even if they didn't make a purchase just yet, could they browse what you have for sale? No matter where you are in your journey, you always need to have something for sale. If you want anyone to take your online business seriously then you need to take it seriously yourself.
There is no reason to wait to offer products and services for sale on your website. You should have something for sale on day 1 (and day 10, and 100). Even if you have a flagship product or service that you promote once or twice a year in an open-and-close cart promotion, you should have some course, or ebook, or digital download that is always available (and clearly listed) for sale.
After the story about the friend's business without products, this may sound like an obvious lesson, but don't feel bad if you’ve been making this mistake. Michael Hyatt made the same mistake too. When he started blogging, he wrote 2–3 times a week to a loyal audience and didn't sell a product or service for the first 8 years!
When he finally did start featuring a couple of small ads and a few small affiliate products on his website, some people were outraged. "How dare you?!" they asked, "I can't believe you became a sellout." That's when he realized he had made a mistake. He knew he was building a business all along, but his audience had no idea.
Today that business generates more than $15 million in annual revenue and has been ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the US for three years in a row. Just imagine what would have been possible if he had started selling products eight years earlier, instead? Michael made this mistake so you don't need to repeat it. Always have something available for sale.