At one time, starting a small business took a lot of startup equipment, from printers, fax machines, telephones, computers. Today, you can run your business online, using just a Smartphone on the go.
It’s easier than ever to build your own business online. As with any startup, it takes some planning. Though, the costs for building an online business are lower than you may think.
Read on to for tips on how to build an online business.
Why Building an Online Business May Be for You
Many entrepreneurs tell the same story when asked by they started their own businesses. Many say they felt trapped in an unsatisfying career path.
They chose an online store because it was relatively inexpensive to start. The product or service focused on something they loved.
Online stores provide flexibility, both in time and location. You can often work from anywhere. eCommerce can also have high earning potential. And of course, you are your own boss.
Create Your Business Strategy
Chances are, you already have your idea, either in your head or documented in your files. Before you jump ahead to creating a website and other investments, take some time to refine your idea.
Draft a Business Plan
Your next move is to create a business model that refines your idea into something that translates to an online presence.
All businesses should begin with a written business plan. Even if you don’t need to seek funding, having a plan gives you a clear direction.
There are hundreds of template available to you, though all business plans should include these sections, among others.
1. A company description that describes your product(s).
2. Some market analysis of your market and competitors.
3. A summary of your management structure and/or company organization.
4. A marketing plan that details your sales strategy.
5. Financial projections to include information such as balance sheets, etc.
What’s Your Product?
What do you plan to sell? Are you the artist making handmade items or selling retail? Do you develop and publish online courses? Many experts leave their fields to teach. People can even take a construction course online.
Talk to people, either in person or online, to see what interest there is in your product. Social media is a perfect place for informal marketing research.
Changes are you are already a member of online communities related to your idea. Poll the members and see if your product has potential.
Pick a Niche
An essential part of choosing your product is to go a step further an identify your niche. A niche is the slice of an industry where you and your products fit in. It is your area of specialty.
Rather than spread yourself too thin, understand your niche, and thus, your market and customer base. For an online business, this means keeping your e-commerce site focused and not generic.
This way, you can focus your efforts and advertising in one direction. You can better understand your audience and know how to market to them.
As you go, you’ll also be building your reputation as an expert, thus building your online presence and your brand.
Focusing on just one niche keeps your start-up costs lower and involves less risk. You can gradually grow your business by adding related products. You may even add another niche down the line once you have solidified your initial one.
Build an Online Presence
Once you’ve got your plan in place, it’s time to launch your online business. You need more than an online store to do that. You also need a marketing strategy that involves social media and building an online presence.
Build an Online Store
Luckily, web hosting and e-commerce websites are relatively inexpensive. You can always upgrade later as your business needs expand.
How to start an e-commerce business? Website builders like Wix.com, WordPress.org, and Shopify all offer quick website setup and combined domain and hosting plans.
The e-commerce components are easy to set up and often work with other applications to support accounting and inventory control.
Grow an Online Presence
Even if you incorporate a blog into your website, you’ll need to do more to attract visitors. A social media page, such as a business page on Facebook is free and low maintenance.
Instagram is another platform that allows you to spread the word about your business and attract followers.
Often, social media is the optimal way to build your audience, make meaningful connections, and keep your followers updated. They are also perfect platforms for posting sales even information and coupon codes.
Facebook has a shop feature, though that isn’t ideal for an online business. Regardless, social media as a communication channel is invaluable.
Market Your Store
Once your online website and profiles are live, it’s time to drive traffic to them. Even if you are a company of one, you can still do a few inexpensive things to bump your company’s visibility.
Use Facebook adverts to introduce people to your website. Facebook ads aren’t free, but you can set your budget as well as the demographics for the ad’s reach. They are a fantastic way to reach a finely-targeted audience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is what gets your website ranked in Google searches. While it’s an intricate discipline unto itself, the small business owner can employ the basic principles to improve search rankings.
There’s also no cost involved unless you hire an SEO expert to assist you. Essentially, you must decide on keywords that you want your website to rank for. What keywords will people use to find you?
Place your chosen keywords on your homepage. They can appear in your headers, title tags, image descriptions, and so on. A little goes a long way.
Blogs, images, and videos are the best way to reach your audience and attract visitors. Publishing this content helps you connect with potential customers and grow your brand. Blogging is free unless you hire someone to do it for you.
Taking the time to write a blog or produce a video is worth the time and effort. No matter your niche, exciting content adds value for your visitors. It also serves to highlight your expertise.
Take the Leap
There is no one way to build a profitable online business. Though, you don’t necessarily need a fancy website or a marketing team. You can set everything up yourself, and outsource later as your business grows.
This article offered a few tips and pointers on how to build an online business for yourself, and leave the daily 9 to 5 grind.
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