How To Start Online Business? A Complete Step By Step Guide
The prime purpose of any business is to make a sale whether it is some product or service. So, in very simple words Online Business could be referred to as selling a product or a service through the internet.
In a world where everything is just a click away, you can’t help but turn your business online.
Before we get to learn about “How to start an online business”, there are some facts and stats which would help us understand better about “Why to start an online business”.
The population of this world is 7.8 Billion and around 60% (4.8 Billion) of this number is the count of people who have access to the internet.
No matter what business it is, customer satisfaction remains the no.1 priority and what else could be more convenient than your customer being able to reach you without having to move out of their houses?
Well, that convenience is provided by the internet. The Internet doesn’t just make it easier for customers but businesses as well.
It helps you expose your business to a market that is a million times larger than any local market and accordingly it increases the probability of you receiving customers.
It’s almost 2020, and people don’t look around for shops when they need something, they simply Google it. At any given moment,
Google receives 63,000 searches approximately, which sums up to 2 Trillion searches per year. Can you imagine how much traffic you can drive if your business makes it to some of those search results?
Well, there’s a lot more to online business and we’ll learn it as we go through each step of “How to start an online business?” Here we go!
HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS
This question must have struck you a hundred times or maybe more, but how many times did you get a practical solution to it. Well, we assure you this one is among them, so go ahead and read it till the end!
Starting a business is a big deal but not as much as it used to be years before the internet was introduced.
We can agree to the fact that the early years of the internet didn’t make that much of an impact on business, but it is also true that building a business was never this easy like it is now.
Talking of Online Business, we have two things i.e, the Internet and operating a business through it. So, let us breakdown these two factors down to their fundamentals and understand how to start an Online Business.
Starting with the most fundamental step of starting a Business which is
- PICK YOUR NICHE
You cannot just wake up someday wanting to start an Online Business.
That is not how it works at all. You must have a clear idea in your mind regarding what you want to sell or create online. Not just that but, some businesses are entirely based upon which niche you choose.
Trending niches could be profitable for short term applications but then once it goes out of trend the business also gown.
There are some niches which have been immensely popular for a while now and investing your ideas around those topics or niches could be a smart move.
PROFITABLE NICHES TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS:
TECHNOLOGY AND GADGETS
The tech industry is on rising and it’s growing fast. With more evolution, the tech industry finds more applications in every sector which is why it is a huge industry and starting an online business around this niche could be profitable.
By 2023, it is estimated that India’s 70% workforce will be of no use because of developing AI standards. AI’s are being implemented everywhere thus reducing the number of people required to perform a certain job.
Therefore with the advancement in the tech industry, there is a fair chance of people to find opportunities in the core technical or software industries.
So, overall the tech industry seems to be a smart and wise choice for starting an Online Business.
The next industry which is on a similar boost is
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Finally, we’re in a time when people are aware of their health conditions and conscious about staying fit. The health and fitness industry has been on rising for a while now, and this trend also seems to be staying for pretty long.
Starting from different types of protein to diet routines, everything around health and fitness can be found online. Trainers and coaches are selling customized diet routines and workout sessions online.
The workout equipment and everything related to that could be easily found online.
So, health and fitness are not at all a bad idea there is a good possibility that this industry will grow as there will be more advancement in the studies about human health. So, starting an online business around the health and fitness industry is also a great choice.
Next in the list is
MAKING MONEY ONLINE
Unemployment is on the rising, the economy is down, jobs are limited, degrees and diplomas aren’t helping anymore and this has been the situation for a considerable period.
The main requirement of the hour is being able to make money for a living. This could be a great niche to start an online business.
You can find paid skill-based courses easily on the internet, which train students with skills required for jobs only and they have been yielding some good results which are why there is a sudden increase in people interested in this niche.
So, you can help people by either training them a specific skill or making them aware of the streams which have opportunities for employment and making money or you can also help people to become entrepreneurs.
This could be a profitable option to start your online business.
This doesn’t mean that other topics or genres are not profitable. The mentioned niches are the highlighted and trending topics, but there are still topics that you might consider choosing to start an online business around it.
- VISION AND PLANNING
The next step after choosing a niche is to plan and visualize the future of your business.
It is great that you chose the niche for your business which means you’re clear about what online business you’re going to start, but then it is equally important to decide what to do with your online business and how to do it.
As mentioned above, starting an online business is easy but you need to be sure about the way you want to make the business progress. After all, it is not going to grow by itself right?
As the owner, you must have some goals about your business and to accomplish them you need to have a plan starting from the appearance of your online store to every bit of setting up your online business.
WEBSITE AND SEO
The first and foremost requirement of any online business is to have a website. A website is an interface between your business and your customer. Depending on how you built it and its performance, a website can make a lot of difference.
A website could be built literally in minutes. You just need to purchase a domain name that represents your business and then take a hosting to manage that website.
These two things and you’re good to go. Domains and hosting are not expensive at all, and by spending a few bucks you’re all set for starting an Online Business.
You can design your entire online store in WordPress. Around 75% of all the websites on the internet are made on WordPress. Some of the most popular websites like TED etc are built on WordPress only.
It has some of the best plugins and tools which make it way easier for you to add and customize features as per your requirements.
Not just the website but, you need content on the site. You cannot run a business with a blank website, right? You need to have content and conveys the purpose of your business and also about the product or service you’re selling.
As mentioned in one of the facts above, your business can yield better results if it makes it to the first page in any of the Google search results around your genre and so, by this time we must understand how important it is to build our website in ways that it appears in search results. How this could be achieved?
Through SEO or search engine optimization. As the name suggests it is the method of optimizing or adjusting your website according to the standards of search engines such as Google and Bing.
These search engines operate on algorithms that crawl through millions of other websites and filter them according to the relevance, authenticity and many other factors. So, it is important to study the way websites get ranked on search engines and build one for your Online Business accordingly.
Starting from the site appearance, website policies, internal linking and more are all SEO practices and these are highly responsible for increasing the Domain authority which helps you rank higher.
So, this was all about Visualizing and planning, it also includes many other things but the basic and most important factor which you should be planning first is the website and its SEO.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET
You must realize who you’re reaching or who consumes your content. When you just start an Online Business and nobody knows about it, you reach the consumer who you think might be interested in your business and this calculation is very important for audience targeting.
You need to target a group of audience who have interests similar to that of your business. For a more practical idea, here is an example for you.
Suppose you sell computer accessories online, reaching out to gamers would be more profitable for you as compared to reaching people who are into cybersecurity. So, you need to understand what kind of people can be your buyers.
Then you develop content based on keywords that are mostly used by the audience you target to reach. Understanding your market is very important.
As much as reaching the right people can bring you profits, reaching random people who find it completely irrelevant can bring you good losses as well.
This is part of market research. When you’re finally reaching your audience through content, products, and services regularly and then you have to study analytics and stats which show the response towards your material.
When you conduct these kinds of research, you’ll get to know that there is a material that works well and then there is a material that doesn’t work when it comes to online business.
This way, even without asking people for feedback you generate how your online business is being viewed.
Knowing what they need and serving people with their requirements can help you boost your online business. So, this was all about understanding the market and customer requirements. Let’s switch to the next point which is
- COMPETITION ANALYSIS
Studying the competition is also very important. As mentioned, the internet is a huge market and just like you there are millions of people who have been doing Online Business for a while. Some companies make 6 figure incomes entirely out of their online businesses.
There are over 500 million websites on the internet and almost 2 million of them are updated daily. You don’t have to compete with all those 200 million websites when you see your competition this number falls significantly.
Can you imagine the possible topics people are building online businesses around? There are millions of topics starting from health, fitness, food, tech, kids, education, medical facility, hospitality, DIY’s, marketing, writing, poetry, comedy, business, etc and this list is endless.
You don’t have to worry about all those 200 million websites or online businesses. You need to focus on people who are actively operating businesses around the same topics or themes like yours.
The numbers are huge, but as compared to the number of people accessing the internet, the number of online businesses is negligible. So, you’ll find more thousands of websites dealing with the same genre as yours, but again you won’t have to worry about them as well.
All you need to worry about is the 20-30 websites that are consistently ranking and are being operated actively. They are your competition because their mission is the same as yours which is to convince the same group of audiences.
Competition analysis involves several processes such as understanding competitor strategies, developing new strategies, practicing better SEO and a lot more.
Understanding your competition is also important because it sets a bar for people who just started with Online Business. Several tools can be significantly helpful when it comes to understanding your competition in detail.
These days you can easily know which websites they are getting backlinks from, what are their writing standards, where do they source their products from, how strong are their research abilities and many other things which can help you reverse engineer into their strategies and develop a better one.
The tactic that works for your component might not work for you, but when you know about their tactics and strategies, a little research and you can come up with a better one.
Competing with old players could be a wise decision as understanding their strategy helps you understand about parameters that are responsible for the rising or fall of any online businesses.
Strategies are important but the quality is more important. Quality content might take time sometimes but it yields results as the strategies only help to get you more engagement but those people are impressed only if they were able to find value, so quality cannot be compromised.
In the competitive analysis, you must filter out the quality of your online business vs your competitors. So, this was all about competition analysis which is a very important step when starting an Online Business.
- SOURCE YOUR PRODUCTS
A product is not always a box sealed with a FedX stamp on it, it could be a software, a pdf, a video, an online course or anything and before you build your online store, be very clear about where you source your products from.
The fundamental definition of product sourcing is “It is the method through which any online Business obtains its products to sell”. There are many ways of doing this such as dropshipping, print on demand, DIY, etc.
The very basic one is DIY (do it yourself), where you create the entire product by yourself. This is most common when you sell software, game, designing or coding services, web development services. It is also practical when you’re an author, or you developed a course to teach people about something.
The other two methods which are very common procedures for sourcing products to start selling as an Online Business are Dropshipping and print on demand. Here is a little bit about Print on Demand and Dropshipping.
PRINT ON DEMAND
Print on demand is more of a convenient method of starting an online business especially when your customer base is quite less and in the early stages of an Online Business. This is usually done for customizing products such as baseball hats, t-shirts, mugs, laptop skin, phone cases, etc.
One of the benefits of doing print on demand is that you needn’t have an inventory or stock of products. You find buyers through your online store and you don’t have to pay until the product is finally sold.
Yes, that is true, when a customer makes an order the order is directed to the manufacturer who then delivers the customized products to the buyer and the seller keeps their profit margin.
This way the seller doesn’t need to have a defined stock of products or an inventory to store them.
The seller is just a medium between the manufacturer and the buyer. The print on demand could also be used for other online businesses. This mode of sourcing products can be useful for people starting an online business at a low budget.
The demerits of such a model of online business are that it cannot support a large number of clients or continuous orders. The profit margins for the seller are too low and as a seller, you cannot just quote any price. You have to be wise while quoting prices for each customized product.
Another limitation of such an online business model is that the variety of customization depends upon the manufacturer.
Dropshipping is a very similar method just as a print on demand but here you are not allowed to customized products instead you are required to choose from millions of products, list them on your online store.
The orders are taken and directly forwarded to the vendor through some plugin or AI and then the vendor directly delivers the product to the customer leaving a margin of profit for the seller.
Dropshipping is a very popular practice these days, and this method to is convenient as it doesn’t require you to have an inventory to store products neither do you have to pay for any product unless it is delivered.
This was all about sourcing products for selling, an integral step in How to start an Online Business.
- REVENUE STRUCTURE
While starting an online business you need to make sure that you have a proper revenue structure. This is not very difficult for online businesses with one on one B2C transactions.
But several times, a business is not entirely based on just core transaction principles, sometimes it could be a blog, a case study, some kind of information and in such cases the consumer doesn’t have to pay themselves, instead, there are other methods like PPC, and ad revenue which can help the business earn.
Ads are one of the most common streams of income for more than 60% of media agencies and content distribution companies. There are content-based companies that are making 6 figures entirely through ads.
You need to set up a Payment gateway in case your online business is based on a B2C core transaction model. Otherwise, you need must have a funnel of actions and outcomes which despite not having a core transaction model still allows you to earn through other methods.
This was all about having a revenue structure, one of the important steps in starting an online business.
Now that we’re discussing funnels, this takes us to the next point, which is
- MARKET YOUR PRODUCT
It is fair that you must have good SEO practices, site appearance should be good, etc. but it takes time for any material to rank on search engines like Google and can you afford to wait until it finally starts to appear in one of the search results and people start engaging with your product, service, content or whatsoever you’re selling?
The answer is no you can’t anybody should. What if your SEO Practices fail to work for the kind of website you’ve created. And is it just having good SEO enough for you to convince someone to purchase your product? Again the answer is No.
No doing internet marketing is the same as having a business and not telling anyone. It is already 2020 and how dumb does a person has to be not to realize the power and importance of social media. So let’s start right from there:
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
First of all, you must understand that marketing is the method of making people aware of the existence of your business, your product or the service you offer them.
You can’t expect people to just go on Google and look for your online store when they don’t even know something like that exists.
Creating a buzz in the market is the requirement of any online business to succeed in its initial plans and this buzz could be possibly created by social media.
Social media is crowded with millions and billions of people and what could be a better place to make people aware of your product or service.
The social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are extremely effective when it comes to market something but there are specific ways to market your product or the service you offer.
You can’t just go on social media and ask people to buy your product. People are usually annoyed when someone tries to sell them while their purpose of being on the platform was entertainment. Then how can you market your product while starting an online business?
The answer is Content Marketing. Let’s learn in detail about it.
Content Marketing is the most effective method of making people aware of your products. This is the easiest and simplest method that can yield excellent results for any business.
So, content marketing means, allowing content to communicate with the consumer by providing real value to them on behalf of your online business.
Content marketing means to develop content around the main theme, the genre of your online business instead of asking people directly to buy your product. This marketing works effectively on social media platforms as well as on website blogs.
People engage with content, and any piece of content around your business can help build brand awareness among people. Engaging content on social media platforms or through blogs can bring good results.
Blogs are another form of developing long-form content. Blogs are an extremely useful and effective means of increasing brand awareness.
From a study, it is found that companies which blog 4 times a month are likely to drive 16 times more traffic than companies that do not blog at all.
Content marketing is cheaper than traditional marketing and still more effective. It costs nearly 60% less than traditional marketing.
This is the reason the content industry has expanded to such an extent. By this time, the content marketing industry is worth more than $300 billion and still growing.
Companies are spending over $10 million every year entirely on content marketing because they know the difference t creates in the market. Engaging content could boost your online business like none other.
Each engaging with your content is a potential lead that may or may not turn into end customer, but studies have shown that the average conversion rate is 6 times higher for companies that use content marketing.
The content is can influence the audience way better than annoying ads. More than 65% of the consumers have a positive view of brands after consuming their content. This is what content marketing can do.
BENEFITS OF CONTENT MARKETING
- Drives more traffic than any other form of marketing
- Ads are annoying, Content isn’t
- Improves engagement on your site
- An effective method of increasing brand awareness
- Provides real value
The next best form of marketing is
Email marketing is an effective method for generating leads. It has been seen that email marketing has some good conversion rates. Even content marketing requires email marketing for distribution purposes.
Unless you have some miraculous power, people are not going to visit your site repeatedly for the sake of reading your blog, but you could reach them with your brand new blog post. How?
Well, the answer is Newsletters. They needn’t come and visit your site when you can reach their inboxes. Over 80% of the bloggers use email newsletters to distribute content to their audiences.
The average newsletter open rate is about 20 times higher than facebook engagement. Emails are engaging therefore they convert 40 times more leads than facebook and twitter combined. This shows the real capacity for email marketing.
The above-mentioned stats sure prove that what email marketing is capable of doing.
This is how you can create a buzz in the market and let everyone know about it. In a world where everything is operated through the internet, nothing can work better than internet marketing when it comes to increasing brand awareness.
- LEGAL FORMALITIES
Ensure that when you’re finally good to go and you are enjoying nice customer engagement and profit, nobody comes forward to sue you for a mistake you weren’t aware of. Yes, it is the legal formalities that need to be addressed.
Even if the above steps comprise 90% of “How to Start an Online Business”, but skipping this procedure could cost you a fortune. You are supposed to take things legally when you start an online business and it starts with registering your company.
You need to register your company based on its structure that is privately limited, or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), etc.
You must be authorized to sell products or services and for that, you need to have a certain license. Obtaining those licenses and permissions is not a big deal, neither do they cost high but not having them is a big deal.
- MAKE MONEY
After accomplishing step by step, now it is your turn to make your product live on your e-commerce store and get going with your online business. Just 8 simple steps and you’re successfully built an online business that is all set to bring you money.
Well, business is a responsibility and you have to stay alert about each and everything when you’re starting an online business. It is as tough as any job or maybe even more difficult because when it comes to online business, there is always the next thing to take care of.
The website, the hosting, the products, feedbacks, engagement and whatnot, every single factor in online business matters and neglecting anyone could ruin the entire idea of your online business.
TAKEAWAYS OF AN ONLINE BUSINESS:
The core structure of Online Business is based upon communication and that is exactly where the internet kicks in. The sole purpose behind the internet was also to make communication easy, and if we look around, the reason behind super smooth communication is an Internet only.
There would be no Facebook, WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype, without the internet. What could be a smarter move than using resources which hold up the requirements of your business?
Online Business needs communication. The more communication any Online Business can establish, the more likely it is to have customers.
Every person, the business is successfully able to communicate is a potential lead who may or may not turn into end consumers. So, communication is one of the most important factors in building an Online Business.
You cannot reach out to each explaining your product or service, but your website can. The Internet allows any business to communicate with millions of people.
A blog post read by thousands of people means an article communicating with each one of them, on behalf of a brand or a company and conveying the purpose.
That is the biggest benefit of starting an Online Business, instead of having 20 people standing in a queue at your store, you can make 20,000 or more transactions simultaneously just by having a Business Online.
This takes us to the next point, which is efficiency.
ONLINE BUSINESS SAVES TIME AND MONEY
Online Businesses are the most efficient kind of business. You need the least amount as investment building up your Online Business and if you have your plan and vision right, then you can build an Online Business in just an hour or two.
Building a website for your business to sell your service or products online won’t consume much time or money, as they are super easy to build and once your online store is live on the internet, it is capable of dealing with thousands of people which would be impossible in case of normal business.
First of all, it saves you infrastructure and so it saves your money. Online Business helps you make multiple transactions simultaneously which saves a lot of time. So, we conclude that online businesses are the most efficient businesses of all kinds.
EASY TO MAKE CHANGES
Another reason why Online Businesses are super convenient is that it is easy to make changes in Online Business. Changes are very obvious in business, and they do cost a lot of money but not when you operate an online business.
Starting from appearance to your services, it would barely take you hours to change the complete appearance of your online business and edit it entirely according to your requirements. This for sure is not easy in regular business formats.
OPPORTUNITIES TO FIND INVESTMENTS AND FUNDING
Capitalists and investors are people who look forward to investing in systems that can yield better and profitable results. They are visionaries, who visualize the true potential of a company when it comes to investing money in it.
Online Business is going to be the future of all kinds of businesses and this is transition is not going to take much time.
When you go for regular business, it might be difficult to find investors and you might end up taking a loan, but for ideas like starting an online business, people are quite willing to take chances and invest their money.
This is because the online world can scale up a business to heights which may not be possible in other business patterns.
At the present moment when there is not enough e-commerce store, starting an online business could be a great Idea and seeking investments would also not be that difficult.
Also, any online business requires less investment, so investors are more likely to take chances on this mode of business.
EARN WHILE YOU SLEEP
The idea of Passive income is very different these days, but here is how Online Business can help you earn through passive streams.
In a regular business format, you cannot stay up day and night hoping a customer might show up, but in the case of Online Business, it is the opposite.
Your online store or website stays live day and night making transactions whenever possible and guess what, it doesn’t disturb your sleep. So, you can make money, while you’re asleep.
So, this was all about the main takeaways of an Online Business as you build one.
Starting from a 6-year-old to 60-year-olds, everyone has a device in their hands called mobile phones, which have made the world a smaller place and having the internet is nothing less than being gifted with a superpower.
As compared to the number of people accessing the internet daily, the number of e-commerce stores barely makes any difference and they’re already making loads of money.
The above statement concludes that you still have time and nothing could bring you more customers and profits than being an early bird in the online industry.
HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS?
Listing out all the steps you need to start an Online Business:
- Pick your niche
- Vision and Planning
- Understand your market
- Competitive Analysis
- Source Your Products
- Revenue Structure
- Market your product
- Legal Formalities
- Make Money
And here is a summary of what all you have learned so far.
Imagine your surrounding a decade ago. And see your surroundings now, starting from your phone to the very television you have everything has advanced so much and it was the recent years only when everything started changing so fast. What was it all about? The internet.
The Internet has tremendously influenced our lives with the amount of information it carries to the flexibility it comes with to make communication so much easier.
Internet brought us
- Social Media
- Banking etc
It took us a while but we finally understood what this flexibility in communication could be used for. You guessed it right!
Online Business doesn’t mean you don’t have an office or employees, but it sure means operating your business online. Taking orders, providing service and making transactions, when all of it is possible online that to a huge audience then what is the need for having a store?
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that it is easier to get thousands of people to engage with your Instagram post than getting 20 customers in your store.
Starting an online business allows you to scale up your reach to people who are genuinely interested in your product or service.
It is a massive market with over a billion people in it, now if you have made your product compatible enough you can even get customers globally. Is it something you could even think of with a regular store?
At this point, when people don’t have to stand in a queue to book tickets for a movie, would you expect them to stand in a queue to purchase from you while they can get it right at their doorstep placing an order online?
Better, take your business online and provide people with the same service. Here you serve a bigger audience, which means more leads, more conversions, and more profit.
While everyone is scaling their businesses up with the internet, there is no point to lag when we have so many resources around us.
As mentioned above, building a business is a big deal. Even building an online business is not easy, but when you are clear about your product and your market, starting an online business would cost you way less than setting up a store.
Online business has its own set of challenges and they aren’t as clumsy as the challenges you would be facing if you had a regular store.
The best thing about online business is that you can customize it as many times and in as many ways you want and that too for absolutely no cost.
The traditional marketing standards come with a cost, whether it is advertising your new product in a magazine or a roadside hoarding or running a TV ad, but when it comes to marketing through the internet, it barely costs you anything because you can do everything by yourself.
- You can do press releases by yourself
- You can manage social media handles
- You can blog about your product
- You can run ads
- You can make content pieces rank higher on Google
- You can create e-mail lists
- You can send newsletters
Some businesses do not have any kind of physical existence, which means everything is virtual starting from their product or service to every detail and those companies are worth millions of dollars.
Forget about the millions of dollars, but imagine how big of an asset could your Online Business be.
This is going to be the future of all kinds of businesses. We are in the middle of an internet revolution and we already have come up with innovations like Artificial Intelligence.
So, by the time we hit the next decade, you might not be able to find a single store in your city.
Building a business has never been this easy and resourceful and we should be taking the best out of the resources we have.
As mentioned, over 4 billion people have access to the internet while there are only 24 million e-commerce stores, which means the competition is still less and there is nothing more profitable than being an early player in this game.
So, this was all about “How to Start an Online Business”, above is the entire guide from scratch that you need to know if you are willing to start an Online Business. Not just “how you can build an online business but why and where”, everything in detail has been explained above.