Starting an online business is a dream shared by people across the world. Some entrepreneurs are attracted by the freedom, both financial and geographical, while others want to pursue a passion. For most entrepreneurs, running an online business is both challenging and rewarding. It can take time to learn each aspect of business, but there will be plenty of excitement as new goals are reached. Without a plan, though, it is unlikely you will get very far, struggling to gain momentum and make progress. The following steps can help aspiring entrepreneurs to get started with their online business and avoid many of the common pitfalls.
Conduct Market Research
Some people build businesses based around their hobbies and passions. Others, however, may have no particular interest in the industry they target. Finding the right niche and products to sell can be done in various ways, but it is important to research whether there is any interest in what you will offer. There should be a particular problem or desire which you can solve, offering something beneficial for an affordable price. To conduct research, look at the competition in the marketplace, analyze Google searches for relevant keywords, check social media for conversations about the niche, and create a survey to gauge feedback.
Create a Product or Service
When you understand the market, you should have a clear idea of what people want. There are numerous opportunities for creating products and services, with all having the potential to succeed. You could start small with a drop shipping business, using existing products that can be sourced for a low cost. You could work with manufacturers to develop your own product, ideally starting with a smaller run first. If you are developing a service, it is is important to have systems in place to ensure you deliver efficiently and on time.
Design a Website
Designing a website has become much simpler over the years. There are still web designers who can build a bespoke solution for you, but you can also make use of existing products. Shopify, for example, is a hugely popular platform for e-commerce stores, providing the elements to showcase products, take payments, and complete orders. Products like Shopify and WordPress have many different templates, so you can build an attractive website with minimal design skills.
Build Your Social Network
Social media has grown in importance for online businesses. It is no longer an optional extra to have a social following as you will be missing out on the opportunity to engage people and deal with any issues. Tools like Hootsuite can be used to control all your accounts from a single dashboard, so you can stay on top of any questions and responses. Channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter should be used as part of your overall marketing plan, so they can promote the same branding message in ways that suit each platform.
Develop a Sales Funnel
Many new businesses struggle to become profitable, finding the cost to acquire a new customer is more than they get back from the sale. A major reason for this issue is a lack of a sales funnel. It is important to maximize income from each customer, so you can afford to spend more on advertising and promotion to gain new buyers. A sales funnel can be used to acquire new customers, make supplementary purchases, reduce refunds, and promote affiliate offers, leading to a higher lifetime value for each individual.
Build an Email List
An email list can become one of the most valuable assets of an online business. Email still offers excellent engagement levels, with the ability to communicate with subscribers when you want. You can segment your lists, showing different content to both leads and buyers. Email marketing is about building a strong relationship with subscribers, so they learn about your brand, start to trust you, and are reminded about your products on a regular basis.
Create Additional Offers
Most online businesses start with a single offer. You may have developed a product or service that meets a need you discovered in the research phase. To build a sustainable business, though, it is important to develop additional offers that can be promoted alongside the main product. These offers could, for example, be a different color range, a premium version, or a supplementary accessory. By creating additional offers, you can generate more income from each customer, while also encouraging them to return to discover new items.
By creating a plan, the chances of your online business being successful will grow. Many of the principles of starting a business feel obvious, but it is common to see new ventures start without a focus. New businesses are started everyday, so there will inevitably be a great deal of competition. The businesses that start with a solid foundation, though, will usually be the ones that go on to achieve significant success.