When you first start out creating your own online business, it may be confusing as to where to start. There are so many pieces of advice from a variety of business owners, and you might find that many of their opinions and ideas contradict how someone else feels that business should be done. Before you start reading, remember to do what works best for you and your business. Keep reading in order to find out the 5 steps that will help you start your online business.
Strategize! When you’re excited about a new business opportunity, you start daydreaming about products, your future logo, your business name, and how to organize your products. While this is very appealing, you need to hold off on this and create a business strategy first. By creating a proper business strategy, you will be able to lay the foundation for everything that comes your way as a business owner. Since you’re an online business owner, there are a variety of types of online business models to choose from. Read the list below and decide which one fits your business best:
- eCommerce: eCommerce involves setting up a website that sells your very own products. You sell any product of your choice using a website that allows you to make transactions over the internet.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): If you plan on creating an app for mobile or computer users, or a new kind of software, SaaS is the choice for you. Saas involves charging users a fee for using your app or software.
- Information Products: If you’re trying to sell others knowledge (DIY, how to complete something, worksheets, online courses), then your business model would be information products.
- Coaching/Consulting: Some businesses involve coaching others to achieve success, whether it be in fitness, life skills, education, and other topics.
- Freelancing: Freelancing involves providing a skill to companies or individuals, such as writing, advertising, or designing.
- Affiliate Marketing: Promote the products of other businesses on your site, and if someone uses your links and buys a product, you receive a commission.
Find your market. Think about the products you want to offer, and the audience that would most likely buy those products from you. This will help you tailor your business and drive the audience to purchase from you. Make sure that the products you are selling are something that interests you as well. For example, if you’re selling balloon art kits in order for others to design balloon arches and murals, the customer is going to expect you to understand balloon art just as much as they do. Customers will be asking you questions about your product, and will place more trust in you if you love your product just as much as your target market does. You’d also have an insider view of what you’d want to see as a balloon enthusiast, so you can use your views to communicate effectively with others in the balloon community. When trying to find your target audience, ask yourself these important questions:
- What am I most interested in, especially in terms of hobbies?
- What am I most gifted in, or most knowledgeable about?
- When I am left to daydream, what am I thinking about the most? When I am left to read, what am I reading about the most? When I am talking to others, what am I talking about the most?
Face the competition. Regardless of your business, it is very likely that you will have competitors to compete against. Don’t ignore the fact that you have competitors. Analyze them constantly in order to be kept up to date with what is working for them, what trends are influencing them, and how they’re doing when it comes to moving products. Here are some key ways to keep up with your competition:
- Sign up for their blog. Their blog will have all sorts of vital information about the products they are selling and how they are choosing to handle their marketing services.
- Buy one of their products. Compare the product to your product. What makes it superior? What makes it inferior? Analyze the shipping speed and the care they put into delivering their product to you.
- Follow them on social media. Keep tabs on their Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook pages in order to see how they advertise and target their audience. If you browse through comments on their posts, you can see what customers are happy about and what they’re complaining about. Use this to your advantage.
Keep it legal. Don’t ever launch an online business without checking the legal aspects out first. In every state, region, and country, there are different laws that govern your business. Make yourself familiar with these laws in order to avoid legal trouble down the road. Here are some reminders:
- Consult with a tax specialist. Decide what describes your business best- do you want to be an LLC or a sole proprietor? A tax specialist can help you make the best choice.
- Contact your local state department to make sure you have all the licenses and permits needed to launch your online business.
- Don’t forget to include income taxes. If you’re making international sales, you will have to factor in sales tax obligations.
- Copyrighting is extremely important! Get your logo and brand trademarked to prevent someone else from stealing it. This will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
Consider all payment methods. In today’s technological world, it seems as if there are a million different ways to pay when it comes to online shopping. Take into consideration how you’ll be accepting payments. Many business owners want to be able to take credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, and this can be overwhelming to manage. Consider turning to a service that will process all of these different kinds of payments for you, such as Shopify.