Establishing an online business can be a sizeable and daunting task to many potential entrepreneurs in start-up, as they prepare to take brick-and-mortar business ideas to the mass internet market. However, the excitement of bringing your own business idea to the online marketplace needs to be conducted in an informed and accurate manner. The start-up will have a large influence over the trajectory that a business takes and the eventual success or failure that is found.
Why start an online business?
According to the Independent over the past 10 years, the growth of the internet has resulted in the high-profile successes of many internet-related businesses. For example, price comparison service Moneysupermarket.com became the second-biggest internet float in the world since the dot.com implosion, after that industry behemoth, Google.
The business world has revolutionized almost beyond recognition in the past few decades with advancements in technology improving communication and information sharing beyond recognition. So, with these attractive ecommerce business successes the attractive lure of charging your own destiny, without needing the capital to buy a franchise or open up a storefront is quickly growing and starting an online business can get you heading down the road to financial independence.
10 Steps to starting a successful online business
In starting up any business you need a knowledge of your target market, know your competition, attract funding and secure good resources in order to build customer loyalty. Successful online businesses have a business plan; you need to approach your online business in a strategic fashion. Identify your target market. Develop specific marketing strategies. Set some metrics and goals from which you can track your progress.
Step 1: Understand Your Market and the Internet
Researching competitors – Very few online businesses are truly unique. The chances are pretty good that there’s another online business out there doing what you want to do. You need to figure out how they’re reaching their customers, and how you can offer something better. Identify what it is that makes you unique over the competition, and put that to use.
Make sure you fully understand the numerous web tools available to you and how they work (RSS Feeds, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Experience and become familiar with the culture of the Internet and any market/niche specific cultural trends and norms.
Step 2: Own Your Name
Ensure that the company name you choose is one with an available trademark and Internet domain name. Your domain is your own unique address on the internet and it is your piece of intellectual property. Failure to properly obtain a trademark could put your fledgling business at risk — not to mention that the time and money you have invested in establishing your business name could go to waste if someone else owns the trademark.
Step 3: Find a Good Web Host
Web hosts are companies that will “rent” you space on their servers to host your online website. Such companies will usually offer domain registration and it’s often easier to have both with the same company. Web hosts and their features including storage capacity, uptime percentage, domain based email and server security need to be compared and evaluated. Additional options, such as being able to host a blog, provide response forms; marketing tools and tools for e-commerce are important criteria to consider when choosing your Web host.
Hostgator is as good as any for a standard hosting package – it’s cheap, easy to use and functional
Step 4: Enable Online Payments
Modern technology has evolved so that the payments can be accepted in a variety of easy to use options. Old techniques of faxing an order form or mailing a check are long gone. Online payments are a vital foundation of an online business. This means that businesses can take full advantage of customer’s impulse buying. Accepting Online Payments:
• PayPal Standard or Pro
• Amazon payments
• Google Checkout
• Office Autopilot
• JShop Server
With so many options available, ensure to check for required features and their terms. Minimum monthly fees or large initial costs can affect a start-up business. Its best to evaluate which is best for your individual business and choose a capable service provider that allows growth, so you can start with basic services and low cost and upgrade as your volume increases.
See more from us on this topic at: www.officeautopilotreview.org
Step 5: Build Site Traffic
Regardless of whether you’re offering the most cutting edge design and amazing new product it is worthless if it is buried under millions of other websites. Some basic methods of promoting your new site should include:
• Registering your website with the three major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo)
• Content marketing, video and audio podcast
• Online Advertising: Google and Facebook ads.
• Registering your blog in the major blog directories
• Direct mailing
• Offline marketing (company vehicles, promotional products, stationary, print ads)
Step 6: Keep in mind Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While it’s important to have good content on your website, if you want your site to get found by the search engines you’re going to need to do more. Consider consulting with a SEO company if you want to get the highest possible amount of web search traffic.
Also, Search engines constantly change their algorithms meaning that you might be at the top of Google search results one day and on page six of Google results just a week later. You need to be ready to adjust your strategies accordingly.
Step 7: Work at Building A Community
One of the things that will really push your online business over the top is building solid relationships with your customers. Online businesses have a number of opportunities to do this that are more difficult with traditional businesses. Whether it’s through conversations on your site’s blog, interacting with customers via social media, or some other aspect, build an online community and you’ll find your business grows by leaps and bounds.
Step 8: Publish an E-mail Newsletter
Collection of client and prospect email (and other contact information) is critical to the growth of every online business. However, a large and growing list is only valuable when useful and relevant information is sent on a regular basis to these individuals. The goal of an email list is to turn prospects into clients and clients into ambassadors for your company/product.
Step 9: Track Growth
You need to have your finger on your business’ pulse at all time. That means making constant use of all of the website visitor metrics you can. For example, high bounce rates on a given page inside your site indicate that there’s a problem. It also, of course, means looking at sales. Easy (and free) tools are available that allow you to see who clicked where and when. Many Web hosting companies offer traffic analyzing tools.
Google Analytics is a free tool – which tracks, among other things:
• Popular pages
• Traffic sources
• Popular keywords
• Location of clicks
These reports can be customized with a plethora of variables including date range, page views, and length of time on site.
While visitor traffic provides an interesting gauge, what you are really looking for is transactions. Whether you are selling a product or a service, success is measured in sales.
Step 10: Be Agile and Ready for Different Eventualities
Online business marketplaces can change rapidly. New technologies like social media can pop up overnight. If you want your online business to succeed, you need to be ready to roll with the changes. The majority of online businesses fail. Yours may do so. What you need to be able to do is pick yourself back up after that failure and try again. Learn the lessons the failure taught you, and start over again.
Real world success stories.
Real World Examples
BBC news exhibits a real world example of such success through exploiting niche markets via online business. David Langer was a student at Oxford University when he co-founded Group Spaces. Initially starting up as a service for Oxford University clubs, group spaces is designed to make life easy for secretaries and treasurers trying to undertake admin for clubs, societies, and hobby groups.
Group Spaces now has two million users worldwide, helping club administrators in more than 100 countries. The company employs 10 people, working near East London’s start-up hub Silicon Roundabout and has recently raised £1m ($1.54m) in investment.
Another example of success online can be seen through the fast-food delivery service Appetise.com that was an idea borne by students at Warwick University which has now gone UK-wide. “It was purely to solve a problem that we had as students,” says co-founder Steve Barnes. “Trying to order a take-away, we used to order in groups of 10 or 20 people and trying to organise that over the telephone is a bit of a nightmare.
“Whereas now everyone can sit down individually at the computer, place their order and then submit it all in one order and it’s very easy to see an itemised bill to see who owes what.”
If you have got the need, and the idea, then the operational logistics that can be seen in our 10-step guide need to be followed and the daunting process can be eased.
Keep it simple, and answer an in-your-face need.
Do you have any other tips for starting an online business, or do you have any questions? Leave a comment below 🙂