A new, digitally connected world has given rise to the online entrepreneur. It’s easier than ever to start an online business; you can get started with less capital and invest in a low overhead business model. As technology advances, so do your options for success in this up-and-coming field. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to be an entrepreneur. As long as you have a mindset for innovation, you can find opportunities in almost any industry.
Whether your goal is to build an online business that allows you to quit your day job or supplement your current income with revenue from the internet, here are the steps you need to take your company online.
1. Understand the Market
It’s easy to see why businesses are going online – it’s a no-brainer. But although this is a significant factor in their success, you can’t ignore your target audience and business model.
For example, if you’re opening an eCommerce site that sells baby clothes, your market is new parents. If you’re looking to build a web design business, your market is entrepreneurs and small companies needing website development services.
Do some research into who your audience is, how they behave in certain situations, what challenges they might experience with their industry, and how you can help them be successful. After all, you want to give them a reason to buy from you.
2. Open an Online Business
It would help if you had a place where your customers could find you online and a method for taking orders and processing payments. If you’re planning on running things independently, this will require opening a business in the form of a corporation or LLC.
Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store or an online storefront, the costs of opening your business will vary depending on where you open it and what type of structure you choose to run it under.
3. Find a Product to Sell
Deciding what product or service you’ll be offering is the most challenging part of the online entrepreneur process. You have endless options, from organic cosmetics to vintage clothes on Etsy or dropshipping through Shopify and Amazon FBA. There’s even a market for virtual assistants willing to handle customer service for big businesses remotely.
You also need to consider the cost of the product you’ll be selling. If your profit margins are low, it doesn’t matter how many sales you make if you’re not turning a profit. It’s also important to know whether or not your target customers are willing to purchase an online version of the product. Some consumers value the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store more than clicking on a computer screen.
Finally, make sure you know who you’ll be selling it to. For example, if your target audience is new parents, they may prefer buying baby clothes from an online retailer like Amazon rather than ones explicitly targeting their demographic.
4. Design & Develop Your Site
Now it’s time to build your website from the ground up! You’ll need to consider carefully what you want from your site, from its appearance to the functionality of each page.
Your website will be your “shopfront,” so it needs to look professional and convert visitors into customers. In addition, your design has to be cohesive and work in harmony with any branding or logos you already have.
If you’re going to be selling a product, it’s a good idea to include a picture. However, keep in mind that professional photography can add significantly to your costs and time constraints may prevent you from producing one independently.
Another important consideration is the structure of your website. Be sure to choose one that will be easy for your web designer to work with and allow you room to grow, whether you decide that means offering more products or expanding into other marketplaces.
5. Spend Money to Make Money
Now that your site is ready, you’re going to need to spread the word about it. If you already have an established customer base or social media following, this will be much easier than if you’re starting from scratch. Understanding how online advertising works and which channels are most effective is the key to spending your advertising budget wisely.
Social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest allow you to directly target users interested in a specific product category or niche. At the same time, Google’s Adwords is a great way to show more generic ads to a wider variety of people on Google and its partner websites.
In a Nutshell
Having a successful online business takes time, money, and patience. However, an entrepreneurial mindset can help you to see opportunities where others don’t. In the age of digital information, e-commerce is becoming just as important as traditional bricks-and-mortar retail. By being creative and making intelligent decisions from the start of your business journey, you can be the one who reaps the rewards.