How To Start Your Own Online Business
Starting your own online business has never been easier, and with the success of big companies like Amazon, PayPal, and eBay, it’s no wonder people are always looking to start their next big idea online.
While getting a business started online is easy, success is not always guaranteed. To have a successful online business, you need to have a workable, realistic plan. More importantly, you need to define your business based on certain basic principles.
Remember, the only difference between a successful online business and a failing one is your level of commitment and determination.
To ensure your success, here’s how to start an online business.
Identify a need
Before you can start your business, you need to come up with a business idea. Instead of simply relying on your imagination to come with a million dollar idea, spend time looking into peoples’ pain points and see if there is a business need you can fulfill.
The most successful companies are ones that focus on solving a problem rather than forming a company or business. First, choose a niche that you have some expertise in—or one that simply interests you—and do some research.
Look to forums and see what questions people are asking, do some keyword research to see what kinds of companies are already solving these problems, and visit potential competitors’ websites. Get an idea of the existing market and see what business you can come up with that fills a need.
Craft a business plan
Once you have a great idea, it’s time to start planning. Without a thorough business plan, all your ideas and hard work will be futile. The most successful business leaders recommend that any new venture requires realistic and objective planning.
A good business plan features comprehensive market research and a feasibility study. For instance, you need to answer these simple questions:
- What do you want to introduce in the market?
- Is there a demand for that product/service?
- How will customers access your services?
- Who are the key players in the industry?
- Where will you get your products?
- What is the level of competition?
- Are there any obstacles that may hinder your success?
- How will you differentiate your product/service from the existing ones?
- Where can you get the funds?
Answering these questions should give you a rough idea of your business and help you define your steps going forward.
This is also the phase where you need to begin answering questions about funding. How much seed money will your business need to get started? How will you get these funds? If you can’t fund your business on your own, consider a low-interest loan, approaching angel investors, or pursuing crowdfunding via Kickstarter or GoFundMe.
Build a website for your business
Nowadays, every business needs a website, and this is even more important if your business will primarily run online. Your website will is essentially the storefront of your online business, so you’ll want it to look great.
If you don’t have the skill to make your own website, then you can hire someone to do it for you. Online marketplaces like Upwork are a great place to find and hire a website developer. However, the cost of a good website can run you anywhere from $500 to over $2,000. If you don’t have that kind of money when you’re starting out, you can use an easy AI website builder like Bookmark.
When setting up a website, considering the following:
- Choose a good domain name that relates to your business niche. For example, if you’re setting up an online copywriting business, something like iWriter is perfect. Customers will know what to expect from iWriter just from the domain name. Your domain name should be simple, succinct, brandable, and memorable.
- Choose a web hosting company. A reputable company guarantees 99.99% uptime, reliable customer service, blogging, and eCommerce tools. You can also get free hosting with Bookmark.
- The website should be user-friendly, mobile ready, and easy to navigate. Remember to include all details about your business to help your customers find you.
Your website will likely be potential customers’ first impression of your company, so give it your best. Visit your competitors’ websites and try to develop something better than what they have.
Develop a marketing plan
A strong marketing plan is the best way to get people talking about you business and visiting your website. Your marketing process should be one that:
- Arouses interest
- Captures every detail of your product or service
- Establishes credibility and trust
- Creates an agency/need
- Guarantees quality, and
- Aims to make sales
Remember, there are millions of websites competing for the same audience, so you want to come up with a marketing strategy that helps you stand out. When first starting out, you may find it challenging to get an online presence or appear in organic search engines, but persistence and consistency will help.
Additionally, using the right search engine optimization (SEO) techniques is essential in a successful marketing plan. Along with SEO, implement the following in your online marketing process:
- Create compelling social media profiles for your business, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, among others.
- Submit your website to various search engines—including Google and Bing.
- Make sure you have a responsive web design.
- Create compelling content, including long articles that describe your products.
- Do keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner.
- Write product descriptions that are keyword rich.
- Focus on both inbound and outbound links.
- Use Google AdWords to advertise your business.
With this, you will increase the chances of your business ranking high in search results, making it easier for customers to find you online.
Trust and customer satisfaction are a must
As a new online venture, you should focus on building trust, especially during the early stages of your business. One of the best ways to show your customers that you care and that they can trust you is by protecting all their information.
If you are processing transactions through your website, make sure you have a secure checkout process with SSL. All information a client enters on your website must remain private and confidential. All transactions must also be processed faster and with prompt service delivery.
As you can see, starting your own online business is a step-by-step process. It may look laborious, but it pays off in the long run. All you need is patience and commitment—not to mention a good business plan, a website with a responsive design, and smart marketing—to make your venture a success.