The number of internet users has already surpassed 4 billion and shows no signs of stopping. As more and more people connect to the web, there are increasingly more niches to serve. So, if you’ve been dreaming about starting a venture, this is as good a time as ever.
Source: EV / Unsplash
Here are the five steps to follow to set up your online business.
Step 1: Find a market
Most people start who launch their own business make one critical mistake: they start with a product without considering if there’s a sizeable market for it. Then, they bang their heads against the wall while trying to sell something that no one wants or needs.
Therefore, the first step in your venture should be researching. Luckily, the internet makes finding a good niche relatively easy. Forums like Reddit, Quora or StackExchange are great places to start. Look for groups of people who face a similar problem and are looking for a solution.
Once you get a promising idea, the next smart move is to figure out who are your potential competitors. What do they do and how can you do better? Visit their sites, look up their process, customer reviews and justly evaluate how their offer solves the initial people’s problem.
Can you do better? Is the market big enough for more competition? Answering “yes” to at least one of these questions means you’re good to go.
Step 2: Where are you going to sell?
Now, let’s decide on your primary sales channel. There are two common options for beginners: you can either set up a store in already existing ecommerce sites like Amazon, eBay or Etsy, or you can sell via your own website. Which one do you think is better?
Well, it comes to personal preference. Opening a store in a third-party platform may seem easier at first, but it’s also more competitive. Your products will compete with hundreds of other listings, and most of them will be cheaper than yours. Not to mention that it’s not suitable for service businesses.
Meanwhile, having your own website enables you to sell goods and services without extra intermediaries. You retain control over your store, domain name, crafting unique user experiences and customizing your brand however you like.
You won’t need to create your site from scratch, either. Many awesome tricks and tools that will assist you. But before we get into that, let’s clearly define your idea.
Source: rawpixel / Unsplash
Step 3: Craft a business plan
Once you know the essential aspects of your business, it’s time to write everything down. Create a document that covers the following questions (the more details, the better):
- What is the problem that you’re solving?
- What solution do you offer?
- What opportunity is there and who is your target market?
- What technological solutions are you going to use?
- Who are your main competitors and how your solution is better than theirs?
- How are you going to manage your marketing and sales?
- Will you need to hire extra help?
- How much money does this idea require and what are its financial prospects?
Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers yet. Remember: business planning is a continuous process, not just something that you do on occasion.
My favorite business planning tool is the business model canvas. It’s a quick and effective way to review the most essential aspects of your online business.
Step 4: Set up a website
Next, it’s time to put your plan into action.
First, you need a suitable name for your firm. It could be something simple and catchy for your customers. Then, register it as a domain name. Needless to say, you’ll also need a web hosting for your site.
Once you have a domain name and hosting service, you are faced with three options on how to get your website done.
- Build it from scratch (if you have the skills).
- Purchase or download a pre-built theme and customize it to your needs.
- Hire a web designer to do everything for you.
Whichever option you choose, know that there is a variety of services for your site. For instance, WP Buffs maintains your website for you. Hence, you can run your business without ever having to edit the page yourself.
If you choose to build on your own, you should at least be aware of these excellent tools, services, and plugins to make your life way easier:
- Make sure that your site is mobile responsive. Otherwise, smartphone visitors will have trouble accessing it and Google may penalize
- Build a mailing list for your marketing.
- Use high-quality You can easily design them yourself with Crello.
- Maintain good relationships with your clients. Most small and medium businesses use CRM software for this. Apptivo is one of the best and most affordable CRM
- Think about Publish useful content to position your brand as a trustworthy expert in the niche.
- Automate your customer support to save money and time. HelpJet makes it a piece of cake.
- WordPress form plugin CaptainForm can save you much time when creating all sorts of WP forms.
- MaxTraffic can streamline your marketing with web push notifications.
- Utilize premium plugins that are available for free – like this free WordPress slider from Nextend.
- Also, check out this simple and free shopping cart plugin by Tips and Tricks HQ.
Your website doesn’t have to be 100% perfect right away. There will be plenty of time to improve it.
Source: Wikipedia Commons / By Muhammad Rafizeldi (MRafizeldi) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Step 5: Don’t forget legal requirements
You have to make sure that your business is legitimate. It includes registration, taxes and other procedures that must be handled according to your state regulations. Check in with your local government office to figure everything out.
Follow these five simple steps and make your online business a reality. Here’s some extra motivation for you – if your business doesn’t go as expected see the latest resume examples and head back to the workforce and try again!