- 10 Easy Steps to Starting an Online Business
- 1. Prepare a business plan
- 2. Plan your online business structure
- 3. Choose what you want to sell
- 4. Decide on the e-commerce platform
- 5. Make sure your website or profile brand is in the market
- 6. Choose the right domain name properly
- 7. Create a website for e-commerce
- 8. Customizable order cart
- 9. Launch promotion and advertising
- 10. Support your business
10 Easy Steps to Starting an Online Business
Starting your own business is a responsible task. You are likely to lose your way in practice even though you know you have to think through everything in advance. What should be considered? How is it possible not to forget the most important things? How are risks avoided? We’ve compiled a handy checklist to help you get things on track.
1. Prepare a business plan
Don’t trust anyone who says you can start a business without a detailed plan. Would you build a house without a foundation? It will come crashing down on you in a few years. This is also true for e-commerce
A business plan is a document that includes:
- Project description. What kind of business, how much do you need to invest in it, planned payback period and profit forecast; a niche/area analysis that considers trends, prospects, positive and negative factors;
- Marketing plan: planned ways of promoting and positioning the business (budget for it), analysis of the target audience, discussion of pricing;
- Competitor analysis: a list of main competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, competitive methods,
- Description of the product and the sales process (from finding suppliers to organizing delivery to customers),
- Operations plan: a complete description of your project, including the resources needed to run the business.
- Financial plan: full-fledged calculations of planned activity: number of investments, distribution of resources, planned expenses and incomes for 1 and more years, investment efficiency, payback periods, etc. This chart will form the essential part of the plan if you are aiming to attract an investor.
2. Plan your online business structure
- A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure that can be established. You manage the business on your own, make all the decisions and you are responsible for the consequences;
- Ltd – collective business ownership. Each partner contributes its own share of capital and participates in important decision-making processes;
- Partnership – activities based on a legal agreement. At the same time, all participants in the transaction are engaged in a common goal – to make a profit.
After choosing the structure of your business, you can register your activity and proceed to the next step.
3. Choose what you want to sell
Of course, if you have prepared a business plan, you already know what to sell, where to order and at what price to offer to customers. However, what we mean here is the detailed planning of the product range, taking into account the qualities and characteristics of the products. Make a list of products and ask suppliers about conditions.
4. Decide on the e-commerce platform
After the basic business processes are determined, you can proceed to the installation of the site. Start by choosing a platform for your online sales. How to do this:
1. Define the business. A small local store or an online supermarket?
2. Consider positioning: who is your target audience?
3. Evaluate your plan to start a company.
By answering these questions, you can choose your platform more carefully. You can start selling in the market without creating your own website. E.g:
- AliExpress offers easy entry requirements and to run a successful business, all you need to do is provide cheap logistics;
- Amazon puts its sellers through a strict screening: the service has high requirements in terms of partners, products, pricing and service quality;
- eBay is more focused on institutional sellers and expects these sellers to meet strict requirements.
You can also create your own website on a special platform. The scores of the best are compiled annually: choose the appropriate one and specify the integration conditions.
5. Make sure your website or profile brand is in the market
Visual branding is the foundation of successful competition. To build a loyal audience, you need to do more than offer interesting products at great prices. You need to pay attention to identifiability and recognition. What you need to create:
• Visual Elements.
The last item includes items such as the site title, profile pictures for social networks, post templates and other details. You can even create them without any design skills. For example, Logaster offers its users a simple step-by-step builder service that they can use to create logos and other branding elements.
Remember that your site’s appearance should match your market niche. For example, choose bright colors when selling children’s toys, and choose a neutral color scheme for a business that sells office equipment.
6. Choose the right domain name properly
Ideally, your domain name should match your brand name. However, let’s be honest: it is almost impossible to register a domain with a simple word of 5-7 characters. You will have to scroll through the options. Remember:
- The title should be easy to read;
- The fewer symbols, the better;
- The title should indicate the field of activity;
- When connecting words, make sure that the domain name is read without ambiguity;
- Only letters, numbers, and hyphens can be used in field names. No other characters are allowed;
- Hyphens cannot be used at the beginning or end of the field field;
- You cannot use a domain name that is already in use;
- Field names are not case sensitive. e.g. wivw.mydomain.com is the same as www.MyDomain.com;
- It is strongly recommended that you do not register a domain name that may violate another company’s trademark, unless you can prove that you have the right to do so.
7. Create a website for e-commerce
If you have chosen a platform, the development process will be reduced to the settings of sections and pages, filling it with content and elements. Here are a few suggestions:
- Create the main sections of the site: “About us”, “Payment and delivery”, “Returns and changes rules”, “Contact”;
- Sort products into thematic categories for easy selection;
- Upload required documents: “Confidentiality Terms”, “Sales Agreement (offer)” and others according to your country’s legislation;
- Consider blogging issues to attract and retain your audience;
- Each product page should contain a product description (full and technical), photos and prices. It is highly preferred to include information such as availability (number of stocks), shipping costs and customer reviews.
8. Customizable order cart
While this may seem like the easiest task, even the size of the cart button matters in a competitive environment. Here are a few guidelines for creating a user-friendly interface:
- easy access to the shopping cart: a large icon and a prominent button;
- convenient and user-friendly shopping cart page;
- Possibility to edit the order at any step;
- No hidden extra fees (price should not change during registration);
- Open user navigation;
- No registration required;
- Availability of different ordering methods (eg by phone).
9. Launch promotion and advertising
To sell, you need to attract buyers. To do this, you must develop in two directions:
1. The short-term perspective. Attract customers immediately with contextual advertising. Create ads, customize targeting, analyze audience and engagement performance. If everything is done correctly, you will start receiving orders from the first days of the advertising campaign. But remember: traffic will stop as soon as the ad stops.
2. Long-term perspective. Ensure your site optimization and search engine promotion. Unlike expensive contextual advertising, growing positions in search results will provide a steady and free flow of visitors to your site. Convert this flow to customers.
10. Support your business
When everything is going well, traffic is increasing and even with positive sales statistics, you should not relax. In fact, the real work is ahead. Here’s what you need to do at this stage:
- Analyze the site, detect and repair errors in a timely manner;
- Track the stock status of products while filling the warehouse;
- Expand the product range by following trends and innovations
- Work with customers: respond to criticism and questions, etc.;
- Conduct promotions, sales, contests and other activities;
- Work with analytics data to improve current and future performance.
These 10 steps will help you structure your thinking, prepare yourself to start a business, and start your business more consciously. Of course, this does not guarantee 100% success: a lot depends only on your decisions and actions. Evaluate the market, review each decision and strive to successfully implement your plans.