An increasing number of entrepreneurs consider the online space rather than a brick and mortar store to start their business venture. There are many benefits to starting an online business as it allows more flexibility and is easier to run and maintain during tough times.
Are you too thinking of starting your own online business but don’t know where to begin? Our proven sequence of steps shows the fundamental building blocks of starting any successful online business.
Keen on getting your venture going? Read on to find out our steps to starting an online business from scratch.
How to Start an Online Business
1. Choose Your Niche
Many people make the mistake of looking for a product or service first before considering the market. To start an online business, you have a greater chance of success if you choose a niche that isn’t over-crowed yet has healthy competition.
An absence of competitors indicates that there may be no market demand for your service or product. Conduct keyword, market, SWOT, and competitor analysis to fully understand the scope.
2. Determine Who Your Ideal Customers Are
It’s now time to determine who your ideal buyers are. You can do this by developing customer personas, also called ‘buyer personas’ or ‘buyer personalities.’ Those are fictional representations of your ideal clients or customers. Well-developed customer personas will include your target customers’ gender, age range, geographic location, income, family status, as well as their problems, values, and challenges.
This stage is essential to understand whom your product or service will appeal to. Brand development, product development, content creation, and sales follow up without this step can be completely worthless.
3. Choose Your Business Model
Once you’ve decided on which product or service to sell, you must decide on a business model that will determine how you’re going to earn money.
Do you want to make a profit without investing heavily? Consider dropshipping.
Do you want to have a warehouse and invest up-front? Consider wholesaling.
Are you selling a unique product? Consider a white-labeling or manufacturing business model.
You can also monetize through a subscription, advertising, and freemium model. As you can see, there’s no single business structure that works best for everyone, so select a model that best suits your objectives.
At this stage, also learn online business laws. Learn about any shipping restrictions, trademark, and zoning laws that may apply to your online business.
4. Secure a Domain Name
Have you decided on a name for your online business? We recommend that you choose a name that’s catchy, memorable, and explains to the marketplace your value proposition.
Run your list of selected names on various trademark database search tools to learn if they’re available or not. Similarly, search on social media and Google too. As soon as you are settled on a name, register it ASAP on a domain name registrant website before anyone else does!
5. Build a Website
For an online business, a website is everything. Once you’ve purchased web hosting, it’s time to build it. You could either build the website yourself or hire a web developer – the choice is yours. Remember to keep the layout simple as you’ve only got about 5 seconds to grab the user’s attention. Some advice is below:
- Make your website mobile-friendly
- Select high-quality images
- The first impression counts so make sure it’s clear what your website is about form above the fold
- Make your navigation intuitive, clear, and simple
- Include opt-in offers so you can collect e-mail addresses for e-mail marketing
- Make sure your site loads quickly
- Optimize the site for search engines
6. Fill Your Site with Copy that Sells
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and focus on how your product or service is uniquely able to solve the user’s problems or add value to their lives. Focus on the key areas of expertise and put your best foot forward.
Add engaging content and don’t use jargon that your target audience may not understand. When in doubt, keep it simple. Include descriptions that appeal to your target audience, not your peers.
Most importantly, you need to be sure that your content is fully primed for SEO. Use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner to Moz Keyword Explorer and smoothly incorporate relevant high volume search terms into your website copy. This will help have your page rank higher on Google and other search engines.
7. Tell the World
What the point of having awesome products or services if it’s going to be buried under millions of other websites? You must establish a marketing plan and actively promote your website through a mix of content marketing, paid search promotions, social media promotions, and word of mouth.
Consider guest blogging, e-mail marketing, and podcasting opportunities too. If you don’t know how to do by yourself, you could either hire a marketing strategist or a marketing agency or even hire affordable freelancers on websites like Upwork.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the choices. Initially focus on just a few methods and then continually add more ways to drive more traffic to your website.
8. Track Growth
Don’t just launch your website and forget about it. You must track and analyze key metrics. Otherwise, you won’t know what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve your conversion rates.
Set up traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics to give you insights on how your site is performing. Through customized reports, you can check the number of page views, the length of time on site, traffic sources, popular keywords, location of clicks, and much more.
9. Use Back End Sales and Upselling
Once the first sale is closed and if the customer experience has been positive, the customer will likely purchase from you again if you follow up.
Offer products or services that complement their original purchase and send them loyalty coupons. Make your customers feel special, provide them excellent customer service, and you’ll be the first one they remember when they need something from your sector.
Following the steps of starting and growing a successful online business doesn’t occur overnight. It requires a lot of dedication, hard work, patience, and passion, but if you take the right steps and do the job, the rewards can be significant. It’s vital that you take baby steps, learn, and improve over time.
Good luck and let us know if you need any help!