So you want to become an online entrepreneur? Whether it’s location independence, freedom of time, or if you just want to be able to work from home while wearing pajamas, there are tons of great reasons to take the plunge and start a new online business venture.
However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with massive amounts of information online, making it rather difficult to decipher where to begin. Fortunately, we have laid out all of the steps you need to follow to get your business seed planted and ready to flourish.
So, why go digital?
If the Covid-9 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that going digital is the way forward. Brick and mortar businesses are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and it now seems inevitable that anything that can be digitized, will be. With that said, here are a few of the main reasons why starting an online business could be the best investment you could make:
- Highly scalable
Online businesses aren’t restricted to one geographical location. If you find a winning recipe that works, increasing output and finding more customers is usually much easier than it would be with a local business. This means you can scale much more effectively thanks to easy access to global markets.
- Location & time freedom
One of the biggest draws of online entrepreneurship is, without a doubt, the freedom it brings you. These days technology allows you to do business from just about any corner of the globe, just as long as you have your laptop and a WiFi connection. This gives you the ability to go and do whatever you like, whenever you like. Just make sure you spend that time wisely.
- Low overheads & high margins
Running a business with a physical location normally comes with tons of expensive overheads, particularly office space and equipment. This is a huge barrier to entry for a lot of entrepreneurs who can’t gather the capital required to cover the start-up costs. This isn’t the case with an online business, as you can work from home if you wish, and when you’re just getting started, you can hire freelancers on a pay-per-job basis and even drop ship products per order.
Step 1 – Decide on your business idea & model
There are no two ways about it; ideation is by far the hardest part of the process. You can spend one whole month Googling business ideas trying to emulate the success of othes, but at the end of the day, you have to find something that is right for you.
Serial entrepreneur Jesse Willms recently said in an interview, “It sounds like a cliche, but try to look for opportunities in the industries you are actively interested in. Not only will you stay motivated for longer, but you will have a much higher chance of success in the long run if you enjoy seeking knowledge in that field.”
Looking at Jesse Willm’s Crunchbase profile, you can see that he has earned over half a billion dollars in online product sales, selling various products such as teeth whitening kits, computer software, and even used books. However, while selling physical products and eCommerce is always a great option, there are plenty of other online business models to choose from, such as:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling digital services
If you are struggling for ideas, remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Find a common problem, and solve it.
Step 2 – Validate your idea do your research
Validating your business idea can seem daunting, but it’s really only a matter of seeing whether consumers are willing to pay for your product/service before investing too much time and resources into it. Here’s what you need to do:
- Conduct competitor analysis
- Get specific and highlight your target market
- Create a beta/prototype of your product
- Seek feedback from others
Step 3 – Choose your business name
Here’s the fun part. Get creative and think of a name for your business that is relevant and memorable. Don’t forget to make sure the domain name is available for your idea. In a perfect world, you want to have your business name and website address be the same.
Step 4 – Build a website
Now it’s time to put your digital flagpole in the ground and create your own piece of virtual real estate. Though it can seem to be a complicated technical task, building a website is pretty easy for most semi-tech-savvy people.
You can either build it yourself using a website builder such as WordPress, or you can hire someone to build it for you. The former is obviously much cheaper, but it all depends on your skill level and the amount of time you want to invest into it.
Next, you want to fill your site with optimized copy, telling people who you are, what you’re selling, and why it’s valuable to them. While you’re at it, it’s well worth starting a blog too.
A blog is a great way to establish authority in your industry and bring organic traffic to your site, which you can monetize at a later date.
Step 6 – Get all of the legal stuff sorted out
This part goes without saying, but you need to get the legal obligations taken care of before you get started.
Your online company is still subject to local business rules as well as industry-specific laws and regulations. A food service company, for example, must adhere to strict licenses and legislation when managing the products it offers, but it must also consider the legalities of its marketing efforts as well as patent and copyright laws.
If this is giving you one giant headache, you can always consult a lawyer for advice to give you some straightforward guidance before moving forward.
Step 7 – Launch
Once everything is in order, it’s time to launch your online business. In other words, you need to tell the world about your business and start generating some revenue. The more ways you learn how to market your business, the better. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Set up all of the relevant social media channels
- Set up paid ads
- Run a launch giveaway
- Create a hashtag for your brand
- Ask for reviews and feedback
- Post regularly on your blog and on your social channels
- Set up an email list
- Consider affiliate marketing
Now that we have covered all the steps, there is only one thing left to do – get started.
Good luck with your new business!