Have you lately considered starting an online business, but you’re not sure how exactly you could do it?
Today we will cover five key steps to starting an online business. Here are the factors you should consider when entering the competitive arena of the online business world.
What Are The Benefits Of Starting an Online Business?
An online business entails selling, advertising, and conducting other business activities entirely or partially online. Working online brings plenty of benefits. You can set your own schedule, develop a full-time job or create a passive side income, live wherever you prefer, and work as much as you want, depending on how big you want your business to be. Being a part of the virtual world allows you to reach anyone in the world. However, creating a business is all about connecting the right users with an adequate offering. Let’s check some of the key steps of how to achieve that.
5 Steps To Starting an Online Business
1. Choose a Niche Based On Your Passion And Knowledge, But Also Try to Fill the Market’s Need
Finding the right idea is definitely something you should approach systematically. Before you start, carefully consider what you want to do and why. Which area are you the most experienced in? What can you offer to the world and in which niche can you add extra value?
The ideal scenario includes industry or idea based on your passion and knowledge — but also a business niche focused on gaps in the marketplace. What exactly does that mean?
When starting, people mostly make the mistake of focusing on a product first, leaving a market behind. Try something different and start by exploring a market first. The point is to create a business that fills market needs, not just your personal ones.
In other words, find people who are looking for a solution to a particular problem but are not able to find an adequate one.
There are a couple of things you can do to conduct market research right away:
- Search through online forums to check what questions people ask and what issues they're trying to find a solution for.
- Do your keyword research thoroughly. See what people have been searching, and what niche needs to be backed up with valuable, high-quality content.
- Don’t forget to check out your potential competitors’ sites. Take notes of what they're focused on when it comes to products, services, content, and marketing strategies. Are there things that could be slightly different or even better? Here’s your chance!
2. Choose an Adequate Platform and Set Plugins
Do you want to focus on sharing content or selling stuff? Ideally, you’ll choose both. There are two types of platforms you’d want to consider — a content management system (CMS) and an eCommerce platform.
With a CMS you can manage all types of content related to your offer, such as informative videos, portfolios, forums, a knowledge base, guides, blogs, etc. WordPress is a widely popular example of a platform that facilitates creating and maintaining your content. It offers different themes where you can combine various WordPress plugins and features that will help you adjust your website to your own preferences.
Meanwhile, an eCommerce platform is actually a software app that’s focused on selling your products or services online. It can also help your online store with managing the website, which includes operations, sales, marketing, and all other areas related to your business. It’s some sort of home base that provides your business with powerful features and tools that allow you to centralize operations.
It’s more likely you’ll need to combine these two as well as pair plugins that will help you manage the overall business. Either way, choosing the right platform will help you reflect the unique needs of your business along with creating an online place where your visitors/customers want to return.
3. Develop a Business Plan and Set the Structure
Rarely does a startup become a profitable online business right away. But having a comprehensive plan is one of the essential steps toward achieving profitability. It will allow you to anticipate any potential bumps that may occur down the road. A comprehensive plan will also help you make your business profitable and better in the future. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What’s the purpose of your work?
- Who are you trying to reach by starting a business?
- What are your short-term goals, and where do you picture your business in one to two years?
- How will you finance your business?
These and many more questions are essential to answer before you start. The answers to these questions will help you formulate your business plan. A well-set plan is there to help you identify your market, determine the target group, be more precise with your objectives, set marketing strategies, and predict some of the potential obstacles.
It’s also a great base to set your business structure, which includes dictating all the tax and business regulations as well as the legal requirements you need to meet when running the business.
For instance, small businesses owners often choose to register some of these structures:
- Sole proprietorship.
- Limited liability company (LLC).
Each of these structures has different tax requirements and different levels of liability, so you may want to consult with professionals to determine which one is the right choice for your new business. And you’ll need to check not only your state sales tax obligations but online sales tax requirements too.
4. Develop Your Prelaunch Marketing Strategy
Email campaigns, SEO, social media marketing, content marketing — these are just a few of the aspects that need to be covered to build a successful online business. Your detailed business plan should help guide you with the valuable information you need to create effective and compelling strategies for your target market.
Here are some considerations for creating a marketing plan.
Invest in Web Design
Even though we don’t often see it as a part of a marketing tactic, web design surely influences the amount of attention and time a visitor will spend on your site. After all, your website is the base and the center of all your digital efforts, so don’t hesitate to spend the time and effort to make it attractive, attention grabbing, and packed with valuable information your potential customers are looking for. Also, don’t forget to make it mobile-friendly.
Utilize SEO and SEM
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the most effective methods to develop an online business in the competitive arena of today’s world. Search engine marketing, also known as paid search advertising or pay per click (PPC), ensures your business is visible in search engine results. By targeting specific keywords your audience may be searching for, you can appear in the search results to gain visibility and visitors to your site.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques you can use to achieve a better ranking of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs). Whereas SEM is a paid approach, SEO is free to use. By implementing SEO techniques on your website, you can rank higher on Google to drive more organic traffic.
Be Strategic With Email Marketing
Consider adding an opt-in where you allow visitors to sign up to receive your emails. This way, you’ll be able to directly connect with those who are really interested in your brand in a personal way — through email marketing.
Make the Most of Social Media
By now, you’ve already realized who your target group is. This allows you to explore their online habits, which include their social media platforms. Include a social media strategy in your marketing plan to connect with customers, reach a wider audience, and establish an online presence.
Start a Blog
Consider implementing a digital content strategy by starting a blog. By starting a blog, you get to consistently publish posts with new keywords — which is vital to your SEO strategy. Also, your blog can become a valuable source of reliable information, advice, and plenty more content your customers may find useful.
Consider Affiliate Marketing
This is one of the most popular ways to get passive income online. How exactly? Well, you actually earn a commission by promoting other company’s or people’s products.
The person that promotes a particular product or service is called an affiliate. They mostly get paid when one of the users clicks through to a merchant’s site and buys something. Some other formats of affiliate marketing you might see are:
- Pay-Per-Sale (PPS) — This model is the most common one with the affiliate earning money for every generated sale.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) — You can get money for all generated clicks or traffic.
- Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) — Here you can get paid for every lead you, as the affiliate, generate. For instance, there are trial creations, free demo signups, or some other types of pre-purchase.
5. Time To Launch Your Business
Potential customers need to know you’re starting something they might be interested in. You can make the announcement in various ways, including through email lists, social media, or online or traditional ads.
After starting an online business, make sure to track its growth. There are simple and free tools like, for instance, Google Analytics, where you can track popular keywords, location of clicks, traffic sources, popular pages, etc.
Also, plenty of web hosting companies offer packages or additional website plugins with traffic analyzing tools. With these, you’ll see what’s working, and what’s not — which will eventually help you determine what needs to be improved.
Now that you know the key steps to starting an online business, you’re ready to begin. You’ve got your idea — now it’s time to build your online business’ website. That’s where StoreBuilder comes in.
There’s no coding required to build a beautiful, customized website.
StoreBuilder by Nexcess is:
- Fast — Get your store launched in minutes.
- Smart — AI-powered insights build your store based on your inputs.
- Template-free — So your site will be unique and custom to you.
For unparalleled support and limitless design potential, explore StoreBuilder today.