Starting an online business is a wise choice, especially with a pandemic that has forced people to stay home. The problem is that everyone is creating their own business because of the pandemic. However, not everyone knows where to start, and it can be a daunting journey that could leave you scratching your head.
In this article, we will cover all the basics needed to start your online business venture. Armed with this business start up checklist, we hope that taking the next step will be easier.
1. Start Creating a Business Plan
‘If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.’
The saying holds true; without a direction, you will not get where you want to go. So likewise, without a course of action or planning, the chances of your online business becoming a reality is small. A straightforward solution will allow you to plan your future online business.
So, what is a business plan? It is simply a drawn-up document that shows you and others the concept of your business. For example, what is the purpose of the company, and who is its targeted audience? You want to focus on the target audience because they will be your product and service consumers.
So, if you have someone in mind, you have a general idea of what you can work on. From there, you can focus on either a service or product that could help or improve the life of your targeted audience. Once you’ve established who your audience is, you can work on what your company will offer your consumers and why your online business will be successful.
How you structure your company will determine what type of people you will attract because organization and structure are integral to the business. Investors, potential employees, or business partners will look at how you structure and organize your company because it will show people your focus and goals.
On the other hand, if your focus is on money and earning profits, a person concerned with the well-being of others or the planet might have conflicting interests, and chances are they will not invest in your company. It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with either perspective; it's just as important to create as few grey areas as possible in business, especially when drawing up a plan.
The final thing to consider when drawing up a business plan is how will your company be funded? What are your startup costs? This will help investors evaluate the risk factors in investing in your business. The startup costs will also help you understand what you need to start a business, which can be a powerful tool.
Once you have established startup costs and covered all expenses associated with your company, it is now time to work out your projected earnings for the first year or so.
The reality with projected earnings is that you want them to be high, but if they are unrealistic, chances are experienced investors can pick up on that. Always make sure to shoot for the moon but be realistic because it could come back to bite you if you are not.
If you need help in setting up a business plan then go to LivePlan as they have a systemised and automated interface which makes the creation of a sound business plan simpler. At the very least, a business plan creation will force you to consider the important points from the outset.
2. Is Your Business Viable?
The viability of an online business is determined by the profitability of the company itself. Does your online business have the potential to gain profits? You need to review the competition, the market, the product pricing, your manufacturing costs and so on to come up with a judgement of its ability to be profitable. If yes, then you have to work on its sustainability. If no, then you need to revert to the initial business plan and establish what the company’s purpose is.
The sustainability of an online business refers to the continued maintenance of a company at a particular level or state. This is achieved once the business owner has established a certain level of quality for services or goods sold to consumers. The importance of this sustained way of conducting your business will help you build a reputation that deems your online business credible. The result of having good credibility will show that your company is reliable.
‘Going back to the drawing board’ is a common saying and often comes with a negative connotation. However, the reality is that going to the drawing board may be a better solution because it allows you as a potential online business owner to find any cracks in your foundation before it becomes a significant problem later.
In addition, you may find that going back to the drawing board could push your online business in a different direction that could ultimately benefit you in the long run.
3. Research Your Market: Does Your Business Fill a Need?
Once your audience is established, it is essential to research your audience's needs or wants. Research products and services that are like your own, and find out what people are happy with and what they’re not satisfied with. This will help you devise a plan of attack; you can take the pros and cons of other services' positive aspects and use them to your advantage.
It is essential to acknowledge the cons. Identify if the product or service is causing the negative response or if it is the customer service that’s an issue.
You then can start with surveys to research what people want or need. Is it something you can realistically provide for your consumers? Is the product or service sustainable? Will it be as impactful in the next ten years as it is now? Finally, think about the longevity of the product or service. Most products and services can be sustainable but often not at their early stage.
A company or business will need to maintain focus on improving the service or product to make sure it stays competitive with the current economic state of the world and your target audience.
Accept that you will not create the perfect service or product for your consumers because, as humans, we are never fully satisfied with what we have. Do not let this deter you, but let it be a driving force. Allow consistent feedback both, negative and positive, to drive the changes and alterations you make to service or product.
If you're having trouble doing market research, there are a few tools that can help you with that:
- CensusViewer is an online application that provides you up-to-date census access. The premium version lets you see registered voters and commercial data sources under the U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey.
- The Consumer Expenditure Survey collects data about the purchasing habits of consumers. It includes demographics, income, and expenditures of customers in the U.S. These cover the major expenditure categories and are collected through a national survey and are thus reliable.
- SizeUp is an application that will answer all your burning questions within seconds. It covers data to cater to small online businesses and help them make intelligent choices by providing easy access to business intelligence tools.
- Google Trends will help you access top searches on the google search engine over a chosen period.
4. Choose a Business Name
Your business’ name might seem like a minor issue but is a potent and important factor when creating an online business. An online business is a virtual entity; therefore, it has a virtual representation, so it is essential to make a good impression. Let us look at some examples. Nike is a short and straightforward name but is now regarded as one of the biggest brands globally.
The name is short, simple, and easy to remember. Have you ever looked at a company’s name and found it difficult to read or remember? If your company’s name is not simple and cannot easily be remembered, chances are the name of your business will be lost in the minds of potential consumers.
Think about a name that represents your company – a smart, well-thought-out name that is catchy and easy to remember. If you make it difficult for people to remember your company, if they don’t know what you offer, it might deter them from further exploring.
Do not take naming your business lightly. Put time and effort into it; research your audience, and create a name that complements your service or product. There are many variables to consider; if you need feedback, ask friends and family to rate different names. Ask why they chose those names and make an educated decision.
Not sure what brand name to choose? BrandBucket is a company that offers all sorts of branding services to new businesses. In this case, the feature we like is the name generator. You can insert any word, preferably something that relates to your brand in a meaningful way, and the BrandBucket name generator will then come up with a list of possible brand names for you.
5. Find a Domain Name and Host
If you're looking for a good domain name, we recommend using the following criteria:
- Easy to remember
- Short but descriptive
- No hyphens, spaces, numbers, special characters, etc
- Available .com extension
- Is or relates directly with your brand name
Once you find the perfect domain name, register it through one of the following web hosting service providers, because you will need hosting and when you sign up with a host, they often provide the domain name for free:
6. Find a Website Platform
Website builders will allow you to create your physical website. It’s a place where people can come see what you have on display. A well-thought-out or planned website will have a guide that shows the user how to navigate the information without any confusion or annoyance.
Website builders are an integral part of having an online business because it is a space that you have control over. You can present your website in any format or layout that you wish. This allows you to fully customize what your audience will be looking at.
Allow your imagination to run wild with endless possibilities and creativity. If you are stuck with what you want your website to look like, the builders provide detailed and simple layout templates that you can start using straight off the bat.
These recommendations are some of the few website builders that help users create powerful and beautiful-looking websites. Each of the following has its unique functions that set them apart from other website builders.
What Supplies Do You Need to Start an Online Business?
- A computer
- Hard drive space
- Software like Microsoft Office
- Networking card
- Internet access
- Keyboard and mouse
- Memory capacity (RAM)
- External speakers
- Cellular device to receive and make calls.
Is Starting an Online Business Difficult?
It is a massive undertaking that may need start up investment. In addition, it is a considerable time sink because you have to create and design your own website and manage the social media aspect of the business. Also, it will not happen overnight; these things take time.
What Are Some Online Business Ideas You Can Start Tomorrow?
- SEO consulting business
- Small business consulting
- Social media consulting
- Web design or web development
- Virtual assistant
- Professional blogger
Starting an online business is not easy; it is a huge time sink and requires a dedicated individual that understands that failure is part of the process. If you want to start an online business, research will be one of your essential tools. Using this article as an overview business start up checklist, should help to get you underway.
First, start by creating a business plan; this will give you an idea of the direction you want to go. Then, by establishing an audience, you can narrow down a product or service that will be beneficial to your targeted market.
Second, consider whether your business is viable in the current economic state. Once you have established that, ask yourself if your business fills a need. If you cannot answer these questions, go back to the drawing board. Better to create a stronger foundation than a flimsy one.
Lastly, choose a business name related to the business you have created – research companies whose names are impactful. Once you have a business name, find a web host that will allow you to represent your business in the vision of your choosing. Remember that success won’t happen overnight.