The Internet is now the biggest medium for business and substantial revenue. Where every business person now wants to start an online business to attract more traffic and gain substantial profit.Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.
Considering starting your own online business? Finding out how to start an online business is easy. But, learning how to start an online business the RIGHT way is often overlooked. That’s where we can help.
To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:
- Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
- Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but don’t have a ton of competition with other sites.
- Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and create a product for a market that already exists — and do it better than the competition.
Write copy that sells.
There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:
- Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
- Describe the problem your product solves.
- Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
- Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
- Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
- Make an offer.
- Make a strong guarantee.
- Create urgency.
- Ask for the sale.
Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able to solve people’s problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask “What’s in it for me?”
Design and build your website.
Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you’re ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention — otherwise, they’re gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:
- Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
- Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
- Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
- Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
- Make it easy to buy — no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
- Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.
Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.
Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Assess the Viability of Your New Business Idea
Just because it’s easier to start an online business doesn’t mean no costs are involved. As with a physically based business, the first step to take with your online business is to assess your idea’s feasibility.
The most brilliant business idea can be unsuccessful if your product or service has no market. Even if you’ve hit on the solution to a problem that plagues many people, you’re just throwing money away if the problem turns out to be one that most people don’t care enough about to spend time or money solving.
With this in mind, you need to evaluate your idea. The following are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Does your product or service solve a problem that enough potential customers have?
- Does your product or service provide a cost-effective solution to that problem?
- Are people willing to spend money to solve the problem?
- How costly will it be to reach the people in need of the solution your product or service offers?
Develop a Business Plan
Once you know your idea is feasible, it’s time to put together a comprehensive business plan. Even if you don’t plan on obtaining funding for your business, at least not initially, having a business plan is valuable because it lets you spot any potential bumps down the road and plan for future growth and profitability.
The work you did in step one gives you a good base from which to develop your business plan, and multiple resources are available online to help you put together the core elements of a solid plan.
An effective plan will help you to identify your market further, clarify your objectives, provide a marketing roadmap, and assist you in making the kinds of decisions that may mean the difference between success and failure.
Choose a Business Name
Choosing your business’ name is an important step in the startup process. Because your business will primarily function online, your chosen name must be available for registration as a business name in your state and within the digital space.
This means you will need to check whether the name you want is available as a:
- Business name in your state
- Domain name
- Username on each of the social media platforms you plan to use
If your chosen name isn’t available as a domain name or social media username, consider different permutations of the name, and remember that many domain name extensions beyond the original “.com” are available. Additionally, it’s important to check that your name and domain name aren’t impinging on any registered trademarks.
Decide on Your Business Structure
The business structure you choose will dictate the legal and tax requirements you need to meet. Most small business owners choose from the following structures:
- Sole proprietorship. This is the simplest form of business structure, but its lack of limited liability offsets its simplicity.
- Partnership. While this form of business structure might appeal to you if you are embarking on your venture with a partner, your liability is unlimited like a sole proprietorship.
- Limited liability company (LLC). An LLC offers limited liability without the additional complexity of incorporation, making it one of the most popular small business structures.
- Corporation. Like an LLC, a corporation provides limited liability, and while it’s more complicated to both setup and maintain, it may be a good choice depending on your circumstances.
It’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine the appropriate business structure for your new business. Because each structure has different tax requirements, you may also want to consult a tax professional.
Take Care of All the Legal Tasks
Like a brick-and-mortar business, you will need to file all the appropriate business-formation documents and other paperwork to ensure your new business has a solid legal foundation. This includes:
- Registering your business with the appropriate government authorities
- Obtaining all the required permits and licenses
- Meeting all federal and state tax requirements, such as applying for state and federal tax ID numbers
Since these requirements vary on a state-by-state basis and the nature of your business, it’s important to do your research so you meet any applicable requirements. Again, it’s often helpful to consult with an attorney with experience in business startups in your particular industry to make certain you’re on the right track.
Build Your Website and Choose Your Sourcing and Fulfillment Methods
An online business’s website is as important as the physical location of a brick-and-mortar company, and you should put as much care into this part of the startup process as you would if you were location and lease shopping.
When looking at how you will build your website, consider available payment processors. For many online businesses, hiring a website developer to help build your site makes sound business sense.
The web host you choose is an important consideration as well. You can have a top-notch website, but it will do you no good if your host has too much downtime or if the speed of browsing your site is too slow.
In addition to checking out reviews online, consider asking your personal and business network contacts. Other online business owners in particular, can provide invaluable information about a web host’s reliability.
Depending on the products or services you’ll be offering, you will also need to evaluate and choose your sources of supply and inventory, as well as how you will deliver your product or service to your customer. Again, a number of options are available. Given the importance of having inventory on hand—or a good on-demand provider—and a reliable method of fulfillment, spending adequate research time on this aspect can mean the difference between success and failure.
Develop and Implement Your Prelaunch Marketing Strategies
It’s important to market your online business while you’re working on each of the previous steps. Your business plan will have provided you with the information you need to develop effective marketing strategies for your potential market. No matter what strategies you go with, it’s important not to skimp on implementation.
By building up your target market’s anticipation of your launch through social media and various advertising methods, you will be paving the way for a successful launch.
Launch Your New Business
While you won’t actually be “cutting the ribbon” the way you might with a physical business, you’ll be doing so metaphorically when you make your website live and announce to the world that you’re open for business.
This announcement can be made in a variety of ways, including:
- Social media platforms
- Your email list
- Online ads
- Traditional ads
During the launch phase, you will reap the benefits of the work you did during your prelaunch marketing.
Being in control of your time, finances and impact is definitely something many people dream about. But in order to get there, you will have to trust in yourself to find the right opportunity for you, work hard and stay focused as you follow the above steps carefully.
You can’t go wrong with the basics.