9 Steps to Start an Online Business

by Neil Arthur January 12, 2016

Social media has become such a huge part of our personal and professional lives that imagining a life without it is impossible now. Studies show that businesses rely heavily on social media marketing to grow their reach and increase customers. Taking a business to the online world might seem easy on paper but it needs time, strategy and a lot of thinking. It becomes difficult to be found and noticed without a sound social media strategy, but to have a social media strategy; you first need to be on social media. There are some steps to follow to start an online business, which are explained below:

1.  Research your market:

Starting on online business can be tricky and needs your full attention if you want to hit it off the very first time. One of the common mistakes that individuals or group of people make while launching a new business is that they focus too much on the product.

A product will not succeed unless your market has a demand for it. Coming up with a product first while researching your audience second is the first step for your business to turn into a disaster.

2.  Outline your product and the business plan:

Once you have your market research and devised need of target audience, you can start working on defining your product.

  • What purpose will it serve?
  • Why do people need it?
  • How it is going to make a difference?
  • Are there any competitors in the market?
  • What is your competitive advantage that makes your product better?

Answering these questions and developing a creative brief will help you understand clearly the use of your product for your customers. Creative brief is the crucial step to write a business plan. You need to come up with a unique selling proposition (USP), which will serve as a backbone in advertising your business. Write down you goals and objectives and develop a storyboard to introduce the life cycle of your product as well as how it benefits your customers.                                                                                                                       BusinessIntelligence-H-Slide

3.   Register your business:

“Doing Business as” is the name of process that gets your business registered; when you want it be something else than your personal name. Naming a business can be tacky. Finding the perfect name that will not only stick but also create a boom in the market needs brainstorming. You need to put extra effort into this because you cannot change it whenever you like. It should be brief and catchy so people can easily remember it and register the finalized name.

4.   Setup a website:

The next step after registering with authorities and setting up its legal status, you need to start working on your website. A web hosting service will let you do that, and you can use free services to get started, but it is better to look for paid services, so that you have full access to everything.

A funky website that is comprehensive and provides every detail about your brand but is also not over flowed with content is ideal. Plan a layout for the website and the sections you need to include in it. Decide the content accordingly.

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5.  Build a logo, tagline and take pictures of the product:

Start working on your graphics and especially the logo that represents your business accurately. A skilled team of graphic designers is necessary for this step. You will needs brochures and pamphlets for online advertising. If the product is physical, you will need to take pictures while using it or whatever the way you deem is necessary. The product’s picture can also be incorporated in the logo and used in rest of the graphics like illustrations and manual.

Another crucial component in business is creating a tagline that explains the whole concept of your business in few words. It can be related to

  • What your product is
  • How it can be used
  • In which ways, it benefits the consumers

Most of the times, the tagline and logo are used together so they must be coherent and should represent the same idea.

6.   Create content strategy and give due consideration to “About us” section for the website:

Along with the graphics, you will also need to plan your content and content strategy. It is important to remember while starting a business that content and content strategy are two completely different things. Considering them same or using as alternative for the other is a mistake many new comers in marketing business make, so you need to avoid that.

Your content strategy will be comprised of how you choose to deliver your content on your website. Use of keywords and SEO worthy content is important for the compact strategy. The first thing people look for when they visit your website is “About us” section. The copy for this section decides if they stay and explore further or decide to close the tab so be honest and do not promise or say something that you are unable to deliver later.

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7.    Buy the e-commerce softwares to start online store:

Most of the businesses are selling something in digital world. This could be tangible products like makeup kits and jewelry or intangible like softwares and apps. People visit your website with the aim to buy the product you are offering. In order to allow them that, you will need softwares that will not only let customers make secure purchases but will also protect them from any privacy leaks. Buy the best quality e-commerce softwares available so you can have a trustworthy relationship with your clients and buyers.

8.   Choose a primary social media platform to link with the website:

A website is not enough to make a business successful. You need to build social media profile and audiences to drive traffic to your website. Choose a primary social media channel and keep others as secondary. The top three options are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will explain below how they are different and which will be better for your business.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Facebook: over 1.6 billion people are active users on Facebook, so it remains a most favored platform for marketing purpose. The heterogeneous user base makes it a great platform for any brand to build awareness and promote virtually. Any type of business or product can be marketed through Facebook.2.
  • Twitter: Twitter works great when you are focused on building connections and want to interact with people on personal level. It is a micro blogging platform so you can use it throughout the day as a secondary advertising platform to post tips and content for your product. Posting tables, charts, illustrations and other graphics on Twitter with a back link to website so people can read the copy there is also a great way to drive traffic and increase lead
  • Instagram: The products and brands that rely heavily on images and photo advertising, Instagram is the perfect place. If your target audience lies between 15 years old to 25 years old, Instagram will do magic for you. You can keep it as your primary promotion medium but the added bonus is its direct link to Facebook. Whatever you post on Instagram will appear on your Facebook timeline exactly like picture post done on Facebook. This gives you the opportunity to use both mediums side by side.

social-media

9.  Keep the social media profile updated:

While you have your social media business profiles all set, you also need to be on constant lookout for them. Stay active and post content with strategic intervals. If you are worried about forgetting or missing posting important updates, you can always use inbuilt or outsourced automation tools that let you schedule your tweets and updates at whatever time you want. Add a link of your website at the end of the post by stating, “Visit our website www.example.com for more information”.

Try to stay active across all platforms and listen to what people demand. Answer their questions and respect their opinions not only in your head but also by letting them know. It is important to remind people that they are valuable and you want to know what they think about your brand. Ask for suggestions or ideas that can help your business perform better in the market. What would they do if they were in your place? Share all the valuable input with the rest of your follower base.

There is an extra advantage to building an online business i.e. less expenses and few human resources can make an online business successful. Like traditional methods, you do not need office space or specific timings to work on. A small group of people can handle everything by being jack of all departments, so the need to hire skilled professionals for long term is not required.

What you do need to focus on is carrying that business and expanding it, once it starts to catch attention and is able to stand straight on its own.

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