Tips and ideas for starting your own online business.
The idea of starting an online business sounds like music to many people's ears. It offers a lot of financial and professional freedom. The advantages of starting your own online business include the fact that you can focus on what your expertise is and that you can work anywhere in the world. Moreover, an online business allows you to plan your own hours. Sounds good right?
Today, there are plenty of online tools to effectively create a website that meets almost any business goal you want to achieve. This step-by-step guide will give you insight into the question, "How do I start an online business?", and help you launch your new venture successfully!
Starting an online business; how to do it
Define your niche market
Choose a company name
Write a business plan
Assess your idea
Build a professional website
Promote your brand
01. Define your niche market
Starting your own online business starts with determining your niche market, or niche. This basically means narrowing down your target market so that you can start a business that best meets the needs or questions of certain customers. However, this requires thorough market research. You will also need to ask yourself some important questions. Market research is the gathering of information about your target market in order to determine how successful your offerings would be with that specific audience. Fortunately, market research is quite easy these days. You have free online access to both public and commercial sources, such as comprehensive market reports. For example, do you want to start selling pet products? Then you can consult reports that deal with average household spending on pets; as well as other consumer trends. Another option is to pay a fee to access consumer data by private research firms.
How to choose your specific niche
There are a few things to consider when choosing your specific niche. Does your business idea offer something new? Does it help solve a problem for potential customers? And how is your idea different from those of your competitors? In addition, you'll also want to explore your competitors' offerings by visiting their websites. That way you can see what they do or don't offer, in order to improve your own strategy. Pay attention to the marketing strategy they use, their brand approach, and any other aspects that could help your own emerging business. It is highly recommended that you conduct a SWOT analysis. You can use this model to write down strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each competitor.
02. Choose a company name
Deciding on a business name and a matching domain name to match your website is essential to creating a strong brand identity for your online business. When coming up with a business name, always keep the following key points in mind:
Make it memorable: your business name, often in conjunction with the domain name (the address of your online website), should be easy to find and remember. Aim for it to be descriptive and concise at the same time.
Check availability: make sure your company name is available for use. In some cases, some companies have registered a trademark for their name, making it legally protected. You can search the registered trademark database to check the availability of your name. For unregistered business names, do a quick search on the Internet, or check social media to find out if your name is already in use.
Make sure the name reflects your brand: During the market research phase, you'll find out exactly what your company stands for, what your values are, and what you want to impart to the public. These are core components of building a brand; the personality of your company. Like us, when a company gets a name, it also gets an identity with which it can distinguish itself from others. A powerful business name represents the feel of your brand by capturing the very essence of what your business is about. Do you find it difficult to come up with a good company name? Then use an online business name generator. It can suggest some unique ideas for free.
03. Write a business plan
You cannot start an online business without creating a business plan. This is because it allows you to think about how to structure, implement and manage your idea.
Simply put, a business plan is a written document that serves several purposes. Such as organizing the process, figuring out finances and helping you set business goals. With the right business plan template, you'll stay focused and on track. There are a few key elements to include in your business plan: Summary: In it, you list the most important information from your business plan. The summary is meant to give the reader an impression of your business. When writing it, keep in mind that this section will be reviewed first by others (such as relevant stakeholders). The summary should provide a general overview of your business idea.
Market analysis: you have already researched your competitors and the industry in earlier steps of starting your online business. Now write these down in a formal document. Focus mainly on answering questions like "Who are my competitors?", and "What does my market look like?".
Financial projections: you may have wanted to start your own online business because of the low start-up costs. And whether or not you've made any or investments so far; you'd obviously like to know how long you'll have to wait before finally turning a profit. This section is designed to find out. In fact, you'll dive a little deeper into future, financial goals.
04. Assess your idea
Do you also want to start your online business? Then you will have to take some initial steps before finalizing the business idea. You can run a simple test solution called 'Minimum Viable Product' to assess your idea before investing in it further. MVP is meant to help strengthen a business idea early in the product development cycle, and attract 'Early-Adopter' customers. These are people who purchase a product or service whose quality or value has not yet been proven. There are several ways to test your MVP:
Create a landing page: this is one web page dedicated to one goal: conversion. A landing page is a good way to try out a business idea, because visitors only have to consider your offer. The investment is low, which is top for businesses just starting out. Creating a landing page is easy. Use inviting text and consider using a strategic call-to-action that encourages visitors to take initiative. Your CTA can include anything; from pre-ordering a product, to booking a session, to downloading content in exchange for an email address. In fact, the CTA depends on the purpose of your website. Share your landing page on forums, social media and other places, where you are connected to your target audience. By already launching a landing page before you start your online business, you will get a good idea of online activities and visitor engagement. In addition, test and optimize your landing page using website analytics tools, looking at various statistics. For example, the page bounce rate (how many people leave your website right away), the percentage of visitors who interact with the website, or the most used buttons and sections.
Start a crowdfunding campaign: raising money online through a certain group of people, is a good indicator to determine whether your target audience is satisfied with what you offer. After all, they may or may not be willing to put money into it. On Crowdaboutnow and Ikgastarten you can find examples of good crowdfunding platforms where you can track these consumer interests. If you want to launch your product internationally, Kickstarter and Indigogo are good places to start. Acquiring customers before you actually spend money to start your online business is an effective way to gain approval during the early stages of your business. First of all, set a goal for your campaign to find out if your idea is actually good. In addition, make sure it is a SMART goal; that is, specific, measurable, current, relevant and time-bound. In this way you have a clear end result in mind. Have you achieved this goal? Then your approach works. If not, don't worry! Just adjust your strategy.
Ask people for feedback: conduct user interviews by contacting people who belong to your target group. These can be family members, friends, acquaintances, or community members. It is helpful to show them the summary of your business plan for feedback, among other things.
05. Build a professional website
The team at By Marko will help you build a professional website; they always make sure it is mobile-friendly as well. This way, visitors will get the best user experience, regardless of screen size and device.
Having an online presence is essential for any successful business. In fact, as a business owner, you need to make sure that your professional website runs as a "one-stop source" for all your specializations. That means your customers can find and get everything they want in one place.
Important to include in your professional website:
A powerful website design: design is the way to express your brand and get your ideas across to others. By Marko provides a catchy web design to share your company's story with the world. By having a clear information hierarchy among other things, viewers can immediately focus on the most important part. Web design can directly affect the performance of your website. Have a strong logo designed to boost your website's brand and make your business stand out. By Marko provides a smooth website navigation to enhance the user experience Choosing a well-considered color scheme as finding the perfect fonts for your website is an important design aspect. This is because the font will reinforce the Tone of Voice of your brand; whether it is playful, formal or challenging. The team at By Marko also adds the right visual content; from photography to videos and illustrations. Your information will not just be conveyed, but in a creative way.
High quality content: write engaging content on you that focuses purely on your audience and the value you can offer them. At this stage it is important that you really know your target audience; where do they come from? And what are their interests? In addition, confirm your credibility as a connoisseur in your industry by adding a review page, or writing a blog. Review (or feedback), is a statement from a customer about their positive experience with a product, service or company. You can use this to build a good reputation for your business, and gain the trust of other potential customers. Draw attention to customer reviews and share your knowledge and expertise.
Include keywords: Including common keywords in your content is important for your SEO strategy. SEO (or search engine optimization), is the process of optimizing websites, to improve their ranking in search engines (like Google or Bing). By doing keyword research you can identify commonly used terms based on your target audience. This will give you a good understanding of what questions your audience has, or what problems they have. The benefits of keyword research include finding relevant words and terms, which can be incorporated into your online content. This will optimize your web pages. By Marko adds the obtained keywords to all aspects of your web content. So not only in the written content itself, but also in the Alt text for your images, and the meta description of your website.
Add features: depending on your product or service, you want to offer the right features to appeal to your target audience. Are you having a website built with Wix? Then you'll find several useful tools for every business need. Wix Bookings, for example, is an online scheduling platform. Here, business owners can host sessions, manage services, make appointments, etc. Moreover, if you want to build an eCommerce business, the Wix eCommerce platform is useful for setting up an online store. This feature offers everything; from product and shopping cart pages, to secure payment solutions. Furthermore, you can request a virtual phone number for your business. This helps you to deal with business broadcasters in a professional manner. Just pair your new business number with your current cell phone with your customers and a dedicated line on the same device! Does your business have the potential to attract customers from all over the world? If so, it is a must to build a multilingual website so that all visitors are addressed in their own language.
06. Promote your brand
The motto, "If you build it, they will come," may have worked for Kevin Costner's character in Field of Dreams. But in reality, this doesn't quite hold true when you start a new, online business. In fact, you always have to plan ahead and decide on the best marketing strategy for your brand and your audience. And promoting your business is also an important factor of that. Sitting back is unfortunately not an option in the early stages....
A few good strategies to promote your business are:
Email marketing: this is a must when you start an online business. Email marketing is an effective way to reach your audience, and share all the interesting things you do. Among other things, you can create and send email campaigns. Think newsletters, sales promotions and product updates that look top-notch on all devices. They should be employable for a wide range of posts. Email marketing can also improve users' overall engagement with your brand, as well as drive more visitors to your website.
Optimizing for SEO: Are you also going to start your own online business? Then SEO (as you probably already know), is the key to getting more visitors to your website. SEO has the potential to put your brand in the spotlight. It is a digital marketing strategy, used by all types of online businesses. On-page SEO is one of the three ways to improve your website's ranking in search engines. Along with the keywords from your research, you can naturally add these terms to your content. The goal is to give your website an enormous boost in the search engine results. By Marko is happy to help you optimize the findability of your website.
Marketing for social media: this helps your business to quickly gain exposure, and to reach groups of different people around the world. Moreover, the cost of this is zero. Whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or something else; always post powerful, engaging content about your business. The best marketing strategies for social media include posting regularly, adding hashtags and emojis, livestreaming, and all forms of direct interactions with your followers.
Want to start an online business? Get started today by brainstorming great business ideas. Starting your own online business starts with yourself. Good luck!
Do you need help with designing and realizing your professional website, identity, webshop, SEO, Email marketing or social media please contact By Marko. Our experts will be happy to help you.
Source: Marijne Verhoef I Wix.com