Steps to Starting Your Own Online Business
Starting a business takes some hard work and some handy work. Good online businesses are usually scalable businesses and low investment businesses, and now more than ever, good online businesses are based on developing a system that works alone. Although having a passive income is difficult to achieve, it’s highly attainable with the right tools. Learn how to start your online business below.
How to Start an Online Business 101
Before you decide to start courses of action to make a presence on the Internet, it’s recommended that you make an analysis of the feasibility of your project. Most people try to start an online business without even having a vague idea of whether or not there is a target audience that is interested in that type of product or service. In other words, it is a big mistake to start by choosing the product and assume that it will be received well, and simply because it is very interesting for you it will be an easy product to sell. The moral of the story: If you do not know where you are going, you will never know if you have reached your destination.
With that said, once you have determined if there is a market out there for your idea (look online, talk to your target audience, and analyze the competition), there are a few steps to follow for success:
Purchase a Domain Name
The domain should be the name of your company or very close to it. I usually recommend GoDaddy to check domains because it is an easy-to-use interface that lets you check as many domain names as you would like to see if they are available.
Purchase a Hosting Plan with Shopify
There are tons of different hosting plans out there including GoDaddy, DreamHost, HostGator, and more. I use Shopify and have found it to be the best on the market for customer service and functionality. This is also where you will set up WordPress (I highly recommend WordPress if you’re just started out), so hosting is an important step.
I have started two businesses and helped manage other online businesses, and hosting can sometimes be the most confusing aspect. If you ever decide to branch out and sell products on your website, trust me, it’s incredibly easy to get confused and overwhelmed.
It’s best to have this functionality with one hosting service like Shopify, but if you want to shop around there are plenty of more options.
Purchase a Premium Template
There are tons of free WordPress templates out there to choose from, so depending on your business and budget this could be the way to go, but my recommendation is to go with a Premium template that you love right from the start. Templates are what will essentially “design” your website, so it’s important you like what you’re seeing (and naturally, templates you have to pay for are usually nicer and offer more features). It can be a big pain to work hard on designing a template to your liking and then deciding you want to change it in the future, so if you’re going to spend some money upfront, spend it here.
Are You a Sole Proprietor, LLC, or Inc.?
This is always the part that makes people the most nervous when starting an online business, but it shouldn’t. I always recommend starting off as a sole proprietor first so you can get a feel for where your business is going before taking the steps to become an LLC or Incorporated. You will be surprised how much your online business changes as times go on, so before taking such big steps start small.
Design Your Website and Populate it with Content
WordPress themes will typically walk you through how to design your website. In most cases, there is a tab on the left that says “Appearance” that will allow you to choose colors, menu items (the tabs you’ll see at the top of your website), and more. Learning to use WordPress will probably be the most time-consuming part of the whole process.
Once your website looks the way you want it to, get some content up there. Write your “About Us” page, create a solid “Contact Us” page, homepage, and even write a blog post if you’re feeling ambitious. Eventually, you will want to create a full content strategy so that people will find your website when searching Google, but for now, the goal is to make your actual website as helpful and informative as possible.
Go Out and Get Those Clients! Start with a PPC Strategy
As an online business, you cannot expect that people will search for your business and find it right away. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising come into play. You can get incredibly advanced with this, but when you’re just starting out, I recommend you keep it basic and pay a little bit of money to advertise. This will ensure that your website is showing up for relevant searches and your website could potentially be clicked by a targeted audience.
After setting up your website on WordPress, this will be the more time-consuming aspect of starting an online business. PPC ads work through something called AdWords, so you will need to set up an AdWords account. From there you should be walked through a tutorial. Stay targeted for your first few ads if you’re on a budget. This won’t bring you as much traffic, but it will make sure that you’re spending money on people who are very interested in your niche.
Do not be frustrated if at first everything takes a long time and seems difficult. It can take several months to understand HTML and CSS and feel comfortable with WordPress. Although it does not seem like it, little by little you will be improving and what once took you 3 hours can soon take you only 1 and then maybe even 5 minutes – it takes patience.
In the end, there are many more aspects to really optimizing your business for success, but this foundation should get you started and put you in a position to start accepting clients and learning as you go.