“If your business is not on the Internet, then
your business will soon be out of business."
- Bill Gates
DataReportal’s Digital 2021 April Global report indicates the number of worldwide internet users to stand at 4.72 billion. When compared with the past year’s data, the number has surged by 7.6%.
At this point in time, a world without the world wide web is completely unimaginable.
As stated by Bill Gates, “The internet is quickly becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”
With an ever-increasing reliance on the Internet and rapid technological advancements, we’ll soon witness an exponential growth in the number of worldwide internet users.
The rise of the Internet has paved the way for the digital revolution.
From ordering food to purchasing the latest iPhone, consumers these days rely on the Internet to purchase their favorite products or services.
As a result, business owners across the globe have begun taking their operations online, helping them meet their consumers' changing interests, preferences, and behaviors.
On top of this, we’ve witnessed a massive surge in the number of entrepreneurs kickstarting their online businesses.
So, whether you want to launch your own E-Commerce store or offer your coaching services, it’s critical to establish a strong online presence.
That being said, if you are wondering how to start an online business, let me tell you that it isn’t a piece of cake. A few of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs include finding the right products to sell, building a sleek and elegant website, converting website traffic into paying customers, retaining customers, and more.
You’ll need way more than a website to start your own online business and achieve success.
It's critical to map out a blueprint, which you can refer to throughout the launch phase, helping you successfully launch your business in a smart and efficient manner.
While there's no one-size-fits-all blueprint you can refer to, we've prepared a 10-step how to start an online business guide comprising a proven sequence of steps that you can follow to launch your own online business successfully.
Let’s dive in.
Follow These 10 Steps to Start an Online Business Successfully
You are ten steps away from figuring out how to start an online business efficiently:
- Find a Problem You Can Solve
- Brainstorm Ideas & Think of Product(s) or Service(s) to Sell
- Carry Out Thorough Market Research & Competitors’ Analysis
- Develop a Highly-Detailed Business Plan
- Build a Well-Thought-Out Marketing Strategy
- Understand Business Finances
- Build Your Own Online Website or E-Commerce Store
- Deal with the Legalities
- Launch Your Online Business
- Execute Your Marketing Strategy the Smart Way
Let’s look at each of them one-by-one.
Find a Problem You Can Solve
"Business is about solving people's
problems — at a profit."
- Paul Marsden
According to reports, nearly 50% of businesses fail within the first five years.
The reason — most entrepreneurs, rather than looking for problems they can solve, focus on the product(s) or service(s) they can sell.
Prior to figuring out how to start an online business, you should dig deep into your skillset, look at the resources available at your disposal and consider your experience to identify the problems you can solve.
While you should obviously think big in terms of growth when it comes to figuring out the problems you can solve, start small.
Begin with a market and a niche.
Once you do, you can smartly identify the problems and pain points by:
- Joining relevant social media discussion groups
- Connecting with your fellow professionals on forums
- Attending networking events
- Rolling out a survey
- Carrying out thorough market research and potential competitors’ analysis
Brainstorm Ideas & Think of Product(s)
or Service(s) to Sell
Once you have prepared a list of the problems you can solve, the second step is brainstorming.
Think of a business idea. In fact, think of many.
The reason why Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and other big names made it to the top is that they focused on a problem and came up with a brilliant solution to tackle it.
Each of them had a brilliant idea for their business.
So, if you haven’t already begun, look at the list of problems you can solve and start brainstorming.
During your brainstorming sessions, ask yourself:
- Who are my customers?
- What’s my business going to be about?
- What product(s) or service(s) can I offer?
- What’s my target market?
- Who’s my target audience?
- Who are my competitors?
- Will I stand a chance against them?
- Do I have the funds to bring my idea to life?
Our world is filled with people posting their startup ideas on social media channels and forums.
But the biggest problem they face is capitalizing on the idea and taking the much-needed steps to bring it to life.
During your brainstorming sessions, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is what product(s) or service(s) you can offer.
If you are planning to launch your own E-Commerce store, prepare a list of the products you can offer.
“Do I have the much-needed funds to
launch my own E-Commerce store?"
If yes, you may go ahead. But, if you don’t have the capital, you may harness the power of dropshipping to launch your online business successfully.
Carry Out Thorough Market Research
& Competitors’ Analysis
Having a brilliant idea isn’t just enough. To bring it to life, you need to carry out thorough market research and competitors’ analysis.
Conducting market research will help you gain insights into the level of demand for a particular product or service.
Also, you'll be able to figure out your consumers' interests and preferences. On top of this, you'll learn more about the latest trends and hottest topics of discussion.
Conducting thorough market research will:
- Minimize your investment risk
- Help you identify potential opportunities and threats
- Facilitate strategic planning
- Help you spot emerging trends
- Assist you to stand out
- Provide revenue projections
- Evaluate your business’ success against the benchmarks
Parallelly, it's critical to carry out thorough competitors' analysis, allowing you to gain insights on the tricks and strategies that worked for them and the ones that didn't. Also, you will be able to learn how your audience is reacting to a specific product or service.
Conducting thorough competitors’ analysis will:
- Help you develop your business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Establish a brand benchmark
- Identify any gaps
- Discover potential threats and opportunities
- Avoid costly mistakes
- Know where you stand
- Set yourself apart
Develop a Highly-Detailed Business Plan
The next step is to build a business plan that will act as a roadmap to your new business development. This living document should be easily digestible by financial institutions, potential investors, and your business management.
Wondering whether you should skip this step if you aren’t looking for any potential investors?
The answer is no.
This plan will help you figure out how to build an online business from scratch. Also, it'll comprise the mission, goals, financial plan, and much more, helping you understand the purpose you're serving.
Business plans usually offer a SWOT analysis, which is something most financial institutions, as well as venture capitalists, use to understand more about a business model and its competitive strategy.
Following are the sections covered in a typical business plan:
- Executive Summary
- Mission & Goals
- Background Summary
- Organizational Structure
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Plan
Build a Well-Thought-Out
This step right here is one of the most important steps in our “How to Start an Online Business” guide. It doesn't matter if you have the highest-quality inventory in your store unless you have a well-thought-out marketing plan that allows you to reach out to your audience and helps you convert a maximum number of them into customers.
This strategy involves figuring out who your target audience is, building a buyer persona, preparing a list of all the channels you can use, noting down the tactics you’ll be implementing, and more.
In today's digital world, online marketing is the way to go. This involves boosting your organic search engine rankings, running paid campaigns, developing and publishing highly engaging content, rolling out weekly or monthly newsletters, and more.
Understand Business Finances
While your main focus should be on solving a problem, if you implement the right set of tactics, you’ll be subject to an outstanding income flow in the coming months.
For that, you'll have to build a strong foundation for your business. And to build a strong foundation, you'll need decent capital.
But what if you don’t have the much-needed funds or don’t know how much to allocate?
So, the next step is to get your finances in order. A clear view of how much funds you can allocate and the risk involved is a must.
Take into consideration the money you'll be required to spend on inventory, physical space (if required), equipment, and workforce.
And based on your calculations, learn whether you will need more funding or not. If yes, you can consider cutting down some extra costs or reach out to potential investors.
Alongside this, it's critical to hire a bookkeeper or understand some basic bookkeeping terms to help you keep track of your expenses as well as income.
Soon, you'll start receiving orders, so here's a tip:
Open a separate bank account as well as a credit card for your business.
Keep your business and personal finances separate.
This will help you calculate your profit margin and taxes in an efficient manner.
Build Your Own Online Website
or E-Commerce Store
Your website or online E-Commerce store will be the front desk of your business.
It’s the place where you’ll be redirecting your audience and converting them into paying customers.
Hence, you'll need to make sure that it's smartly designed and fully functioning.
Make sure your website is:
- Visually appealing
- Easy to use
Also, it’s important to make sure that it offers an outstanding experience to your audience and customers.
Keep it simple. Avoid clutter. Make sure that your audience is easily able to purchase your products or services. Use the right graphics and clear fonts to enhance your message.
Smilodo allows you to not only build a visually appealing E-Commerce website but also tap into its in-built active customer base and global marketplace, making it much simpler for E-Commerce store owners to start and scale their operations.
Deal with the Legalities
Address the legal issues, depending on where you reside like:
- Registering your business name
- Applying for licenses and permits
- Opening business bank account
- Applying for business insurance
Dealing with such legalities will help you avoid any issues that may tamper with your business operations in the near future.
Launch Your Online Business
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for — you are now ready to launch your online business.
Up until now, if you did follow all the listed steps, you’ve built yourself a strong foundation and are ready to go all in.
Make sure you do it right.
Reach out to your audience, friends, family members, or people in your network and ask them for their honest opinions.
Document everything and if they pinpoint any issues with your business model or website functionality, listen to them carefully.
Based on everyone’s opinions, make the required changes and optimize your website such that you are able to convert as many of your prospects as possible.
Also, alongside this, while launching your business, create your business’ social media handles, helping you reach out to a broader audience and market your products and services.
This brings us to our next and the most critical step — marketing.
Execute Your Marketing Strategy
the Smart Way
Remember the marketing strategy we created? Now, it’s time to implement it.
Hire experts or marketers to help you with your content marketing efforts, Search Engine Optimization, paid ad campaigns, growth marketing, referral marketing, and more.
Run email marketing campaigns. Interact with your audience on social media platforms. Address your audience's pain points and create content pieces dedicated to solving them.
Add true value to your audience. Harness the power of pull marketing, allowing you to stay relevant and trustworthy.
Depending on your budget, you may even hire marketers or an agency to help you with your digital marketing campaigns. You may even run affiliate marketing campaigns to reach out to a broader audience and boost your sales numbers.
Running a business isn’t easy.
But trust me, it doesn’t need to be daunting.
Implementing the right set of tactics and listening to your audience will help you not only deliver value but also take your business to the moon. Also, you'll be able to create numerous opportunities for people around you and build yourself a reliable income stream.
So, it's time to finally turn your dream into a reality.
Start your online business today.