How To Start An Online Business in 9 Simple Steps - Free Training

How To Start An Online Business in 9 Simple Steps

Having the entrepreneur mindset

Have you been thinking of making some extra cash by starting your own business?  With many traditional brick and mortar businesses being affected  by Covid19, it makes more sense for us to start an online business instead.

To get started, all you need is a good idea, some startup money, time and effort.  If you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, starting an online business is one of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door. With the right foundation and when managed well, your online businesses can be very profitable.

Ready to start your online business?

Here are the first steps to start an online business.

  1. Start with a really great idea.
  2. Decide on a business name.
  3. Secure a domain name.
  4. Determine your income model, and develop a business plan.
  5. Select a web hosting package.
  6. Build your website.
  7. Prepare your inventory.
  8. Tell the world! Create and execute your marketing plan.
  9. Launch!

Start with a Really Great Idea

If you are reading this, you’ve probably have a twinkling of an idea for your business.  Once you have a product idea, be sure to carry out a simple market research.  This is very important because we need to offer what people want and are looking for – and not just based on our personal likes and preferences.

You can check out:  Ask Your Target Market and GutCheck will connect you with members of your target audience.  Start asking them questions directly and gain a better idea of what they’re likely to think of your product.

If you already have an idea of your target audience, you can browse forums on Reddit to see what people are talking about. Are there hobby groups on Reddit related to your product? If so, they may talk about new products they would like to see or complaints about an old product. You can use these discussions to help refine your business idea. Or, if you’re looking for direct feedback, consider posting on Reddit about your product or idea and see how people respond to it.  

Maybe you want to start an online business for some passive income, but don’t have your idea fully developed yet? That’s okay too. Start by thinking about popular products in a hobby or niche area that you’re familiar with. How can you improve on those products or create a companion product that would make the experience better?

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Decide on a business name & Logo

As you’re steadily moving toward the point of your launch, it’s time to determine how your business will appear to the world. If you’ve gotten this far without settling on a name for your online business, then now is the time to make a decision. 

The name is the biggest decision to make as you work on your brand, and it’s likely the most important decision since it will set the foundation for your brand and other decisions you will make next.  

As you’re steadily moving toward the point of your launch, it’s time to determine how your business will appear to the world. If you’ve gotten this far without settling on a name for your online business, then now is the time to make a decision. 

The name is the biggest decision to make as you work on your brand, and it’s likely the most important decision since it will set the foundation for your brand and other decisions you will make next.  

If you don’t have any logo design skills, don’t fret.  There are so many talented freelancers who will are ready to help you with your logo design work.  

<– Simply make  your search here.

Secure a domain name

If you have decided on a business name – then, well done!  And now it’s time to claim your domain name.

Since you’ve spent so much time thoughtfully deciding on the name for your online business, you won’t want someone else to buy it before you. Buy that name now – even if you might take some time before you’re ready to start a website – at least you know you’ve got it and it’s yours when you are ready to create your website.

If your business name is unique enough, you can go straight for the most obvious choice: YourBrandName.com.

If the most obvious domain is already taken, then you may have to get a little creative.  You can either go with one of the other domain extensions like .net or .me, use a hyphen or underscore between words to change things up, or add a minor addition to the name, like “go” at the beginning or a word that clarifies the industry afterward.

Determine your income model and develop a business plan

So how will you make money? Are you selling products? Are you launching a blog and need to make money through an affiliate program or referral links? Do you want to earn passive income? Maybe you need investors?

The answer may determine the type of website you need (an online store and shopping cart function) or the type of partnerships you’ll need to find (sign up with a website that pays for purchases from referral links).

If you need investors to make a profit, a business plan will be one of the most important tools you have for convincing them to buy in.

Even if you aren’t explicitly looking for investors, creating a business plan will help you clarify your goals and figure out the specific steps you need to take to achieve them.

Make sure your business plan includes an analysis of the competition and a clear positioning statement of where you fit within the market. It should also include information on your target audience, which your market research should have given you a nice head start on collecting.

All of that gives you the information you need to make sure your approach is solid. With that in place, you’ll have an easier time working out the chronology of what to do when and what finances and resources you’ll need to complete each step.

In short, your business plan should do two key things:

  • Make a case for why your business idea is a good one, and
  • Provide the roadmap to turn your a good idea into something actionable.

Even if you never show your business plan to someone else, a business plan can help keep you mentally organized. As your online business grows (or experiences growing pains), your business plan can remind you of your goals and be a guide as you navigate how to approach decisions for the direction of your business.

Select Your Web Hosting Package

Website hosting refers to the server space where you website lives. You can choose hosting based on the amount of server space that you need, how fast you want the website to load, or how private you want your online space to be.

With SiteGround, you can choose from 4 main types of web hosting:

  • Web Hosting
  • WordPress Hosting
  • WooCommerce Hosting
  • Cloud Hosting

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Build your website

For an online business, your website is everything. You need it to look good, be intuitive to navigate, and make a clear case to visitors why they should buy.  Take time to get it right, and run the finished product by some other people (ideally people in your target audience) to get feedback.

Make sure the website design matches with your overall visual branding and your website copy effectively communicates your brand positioning.

No previous experience building a website? No problem. HostGator has a drag-and-drop website builder that makes building a website frustration free. It comes loaded with more than 200 free, professional design templates to choose from. Better yet, HostGator’s website builder has eCommerce website functionality.

If you have a little more technical knowledge and want more control of what you can do behind the scenes of your content management system, try a WordPress website. You can customize your WordPress website with many paid and free templates that are designed specifically for WordPress.

If you’re selling products, don’t forget a shopping cart function.

Prepare Your Inventory

Now it’s time to create or stock up on whatever you’re selling. If you’re selling physical items, you want them ready to ship by the time any orders start coming in. If you’re launching a service-based business, this step is where you should clarify your process.

If you’re selling digital products, like SaaS software, then you need to make sure the product is ready. Do user testing to ensure that it not only does what you’re claiming it does, but that customers will be able to use it without confusion or difficulty.

Obviously this step will vary considerably depending on the type of business you’re launching. Just be sure that, before your actual launch date, you take whatever steps are necessary to ensure you’re ready to start providing what you’re selling by the time your first customer is ready to buy.

Tell the World! Create and Execute Your Marketing Plan

Before you actually get going, you should establish your marketing plan. Every business is different and marketing isn’t one size fits all. Because you’re starting an online business, you will want to make use of a mix of content marketing, social media promotion, and paid search promotion.  

If you don’t know much about online marketing to start, this may be a step to hire out. There is a learning curve to get started and some mistakes of ignorance can cause serious consequences – you wouldn’t want to find yourself facing a Google penalty due to trying an outdated SEO strategy, for instance.

If you don’t have the money for a marketing agency, you can find affordable freelancers on websites like Fiverr. If you really don’t have the funding to outsource your marketing, then take some real time to research online marketing best practices. Sites like Moz, HubSpot and Copyblogger all have good, reliable resources for beginners.

Tell the World! Create and Execute Your Marketing Plan

Before you actually get going, you should establish your marketing plan. Every business is different and marketing isn’t one size fits all. Because you’re starting an online business, you will want to make use of a mix of content marketing, social media promotion, and paid search promotion.  

If you don’t know much about online marketing to start, this may be a step to hire out. There is a learning curve to get started and some mistakes of ignorance can cause serious consequences – you wouldn’t want to find yourself facing a Google penalty due to trying an outdated SEO strategy, for instance.

If you don’t have the money for a marketing agency, you can find affordable freelancers on websites like Fiverr. If you really don’t have the funding to outsource your marketing, then take some real time to research online marketing best practices. Sites like Moz, HubSpot and Copyblogger all have good, reliable resources for beginners.

Launch your business!

Launch day will be a big day for your new online business. If your website isn’t already live, then you’ll definitely want it up and running on launch day. You should put out a press release, set up any PR interviews you can get, announce the launch on social media, and start your marketing campaigns. And you should be prepared to start filling orders and fielding any questions that come through.

Your first day in business is a big day, but your success will depend on what you do for every day that comes after.  Be prepared to work hard, learn as you go, and make a point of providing great customer service. Running an online business isn’t easy, but if you take the right steps and do the work, the rewards can be great.

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