People get excited when they see successful online businesses like Amazon, eBay, or PayPal or when they hear of a blog with a responsive design netting its founders a fortune.
They believe that starting such businesses is a simple process, and that their success is obvious. That is not the case.
To be a success in online business, or in any undertaking for that matter, you must have a workable and realistic plan. More importantly, you need to define your business based on certain basic principles.
Remember, the only difference between a successful online business and those that are not depends on one’s level of commitment and determination.
Here’s how you can start your own online business.
Craft a business plan
Without a well thought-out business plan, all your ideas and efforts will be futile. Tony Cohen, the Deloitte Global Leader, insists on a realistic and objective planning for any new venture.
It is not just a matter of scribbling things on a piece of paper. A good plan features a comprehensive market research and feasibility study. For instance, you need to answer these simple questions:
- What do you want to introduce in the market?
- Is there demand for that product/service?
- How will customers access your services?
- Who are the key players in the industry?
- Where will you get your products?
- What is the level of competition?
- Are there any obstacles that may hinder your success?
- How will you differentiate your product/service from the existing ones?
- Where can you get the funds?
Answering these questions should give you a rough idea of your business. It is an important step as it will help define your business.
Mark Zuckerberg shared three important lessons for new entrepreneurs. He said,
- Focus on solving a problem rather than forming a company or business.
- Successful companies or businesses aim to strive to create a change in societies.
- Never start a company or business simply because you want to make a bunch of money.
These three are the key pillars of success.
Develop a website for your business
Now that you have a business plan and market niche, it is time to seek online presence, starting with making your own website.
Normally, a good website may cost you around $500 to over $2,000. It will, however, depend on the complexity of your website.
Alternatively, you can also use Bookmark to create your free website. Everything is provided for free — from the hosting to the domain — and there are even free website templates. All that remains for you do is to write the content.
Here are the basic tips you need to consider when setting up a website:
- Choose a good domain name that relates to your business niche. A good example is iWriter. You will obviously know what to expect from iWriter just from the domain name. It should be simple, succinct, brandable, and memorable.
- Choose a web hosting company. A reputable company guarantees 99.99% up time, reliable customer service, blogging, and eCommerce tools. You can also get free hosting with Bookmark.
- The website should be user friendly and easy to navigate. Remember to include all details about your business to help your customers find you.
Your website is the storefront of your online business. Give it your best. Visit your competitors’ websites and try to develop something better than what they have.
Get funding for your online business
It would be good, of course, if you can use your own money to start your business. It will give you time to focus on the progress of the new online venture.
If you don’t have enough funds, however, you can also seek other alternatives such as:
- Borrowing from friends and relatives
- Seeking financing from lending institutions such as banks. You should go for those with low interest rates with flexible payment schedules
- Getting angel investors
- Crowdfunding via Kickstarter or GoFundMe
Don’t forget that people will only invest in your business if the idea is viable.
At this point, you need to keep clear records of all your expenses. Even if the business is not generating income yet, you still need to do this.
Start your marketing process
Allen Moon, founder of On Deck Marketing, insists on creating a compelling sales copy. It is a sure way to achieve business objectives. Your marketing process should be one that:
- Arouses interest
- Captures every detail of your product or service
- Establishes credibility and trust
- Creates an agency/need
- Guarantees quality, and
- Aims to make sales
You should remember that there are millions of websites competing for the same audience. You may find it really challenging to get an online presence or appear in organic search engines at first.
However, this should not be a challenge when you adopt the right search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Try implementing the following in your online marketing process:
- Create compelling social media pages for your business, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, among others.
- Submit your website to various search engines — including Google and Bing.
- Make sure you have a responsive web design.
- Create compelling content. Focus on long articles that describe your products. You can learn this from Neil Patel’s blog.
- Do keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner.
- Write product descriptions that are keyword rich.
- Focus on both inbound and outbound links.
- Use Google AdWords to advertise your business.
With this, you will increase the chances of your business getting found high up on the search results.
Trust and customer satisfaction is a must
As a new online venture, you should focus on building trust, especially during the early stages. Let your customers feel secure by protecting all their information.
You should have a secure checkout process with SSL. All information a client avails on your website must remain private and confidential. All transactions must also be processed faster and with prompt service delivery.
As you can see, starting your own online business require is a step-by-step process. It may look laborious, but it pays off in the long run. All you need is patience and commitment — not to mention a good business plan, a website with a responsive design, and funding — to make a success of your venture.
No website yet? Create a professional website with Bookmark Website Builder.
Originally published at www.bookmark.com on August 30, 2016.