In many ways, the internet has leveled the playing field for small business owners everywhere. Online businesses are relatively easy to start, without the kind of up-front costs a brick and mortar business demands.
The COVID year caused a lot of businesses to spring up online. Today, most businesses with an offline building also set up their business online for ease of transactions.
If you have never started a business before, or you have one that isn’t online, in reading this, you would learn what you need to start and establish a strong footing for your online business.
In following these steps and requirements, you would learn how best to bear the weight of your online business growth and success and how to start an online business easily.
What is an Online Business?
An online business, also popularly known as e-business is any kind of business or commercial transaction that includes sharing information across the internet.
It entails the exchange of products and services between businesses, groups, and individuals and can be seen as one of the essential activities of any business. With an online business, people can patronize you from any part of the world, so far your services can also be delivered the same way.
Why you should start an online business
If you have decided to start an online business, you must have long decided why you would want to do that. Here are a few more reasons you should consider for starting up an online business.
- Of recent, the world of online business is booming. This is because business is made easier, meeting people is made easier and as such, most people would prefer to do business online.
- An online business, when compared to other types of businesses are relatively easy to set up. You can set up even from home. The only requirements are software, a device, and an internet connection.
- An online business would give you flexible business hours. There are no time barriers that a location-based business can encounter since the internet is available to everyone all the time. Your products and services can be accessed by everyone with an internet connection.
- An online business is less costly than a traditional business, but it is more expensive to set up. Transactions costs are also cheaper.
- With your online business, there are no geographical boundaries. Anyone can order anything from anywhere at any time.
- In an online business, there are lower costs of marketing and sales. It allows the actors of the industry to advertise for their product/service offer at generally lower costs than by promoting physically their business.
- You are your boss. It means that you don’t have to rely on a boss or a disinterested corporation. It means that you can make your own money on your own time and pay yourself as much as you want.
Requirements for starting an online business
There are a few documents you would need if you want your online business to grow very fast. A few of them are-
- Business operation license
- Employer identification number
- Doing business as (DBA) license
- Seller’s permit
- Sales tax license
- Home occupation permit
- Occupational license; amongst others.
How to start an online business easily? Step by step guide
Start a business that fills a need.
In starting an online business, you should decide first what you want to offer. To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results.
You can do this by visiting online forums from the comfort of your home to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and create a product for a market that already exists and do it better than the competition.
Assess the viability of your new business idea
Just because it’s easier to start an online business doesn’t mean no costs are involved. As with a physically based business, the first step to take with your online business is to assess your idea’s feasibility.
The most brilliant business idea can be unsuccessful if your product or service has no market. Even if you’ve hit on the solution to a problem that plagues many people, you are just throwing money away if the problem turns out to be one that most people don’t care enough about to spend time or money solving.
Figure out who you want to serve
By asking who you want to serve, you ensure that the business you are going to build resonates with your deeper desires and the impact you want to have on the world. The most successful entrepreneurs build businesses that motivate and excite them. Asking who you want to service ensures you create a business that’s meaningful to you.
Develop a business plan
Once you know your idea is feasible, it’s time to put together a comprehensive business plan. Even if you don’t plan on obtaining funding for your business, at least not initially, having a business plan is valuable because it lets you spot any potential bumps down the road and plan for future growth and profitability.
An effective plan will help you to identify your market further, clarify your objectives, provide a marketing roadmap, and assist you in making the kinds of decisions that may mean the difference between success and failure.
Choose your business model & products
The next thing you need to do is figure out how you are going to make money. You could consider Ecommerce- If you want to sell physical products online, then you’ll want an e-commerce store.
These are extremely popular and can be very profitable; Freelance -If you have a skill set that you want to sell like marketing, writing, speaking, then you might consider building a freelance business. You can either get paid per project or by the hour; Coaching/Consulting- the great thing about starting a coaching or consulting business is that the growth ceiling is quite high and the time investment can be quite small.
Many high-ticket coaches and consultants make upwards of $200 per hour. And all you need is an expertise that other people are willing to pay for; affiliate marketing or even information products
Make a choice and run with it while keeping your target market in mind.
Choose a business name
Choosing your business’ name is an important step in the startup process. Because your business will primarily function online, your chosen name must be available for registration as a business name in your state and within the digital space. This means you will need to check whether the name you want is available as a business name in your state, domain name, username on each of the social media platforms you plan to use
If your chosen name isn’t available as a domain name or social media username, consider different permutations of the name, and remember that many domain name extensions beyond the original “.com” are available. Additionally, it’s important to check that your name and domain name aren’t impinging on any registered trademarks.
Describe your business in a way that sells.
After you have picked out the problem you want to solve, think it through in a way you can make the most profits while still delivering quality. In describing your business, arouse interest with a compelling headline, describe the problem your product solves, establish your credibility as a solver of this problem, add testimonials from people who have used your product, make a strong guarantee.
Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able to solve people’s problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask “What’s in it for me?”
Take care of all the legal tasks
Even though your business is online, it is still a business. As such, you will need to file all the appropriate business-formation documents and other paperwork to ensure your new business has a solid legal foundation.
This includes registering your business with the appropriate government authorities, obtaining all the required permits and licenses, meeting all federal and state tax requirements, such as applying for state and federal tax ID numbers.
These requirements vary on a state-by-state basis and the nature of your business, it’s important to do your research so you meet any applicable requirements.
Design and build your website.
Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you are ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention; otherwise, they’re gone, never to be seen again. In designing your website, make sure you choose one or two plain fonts on a white background, make your navigation clear and simple, and do the same on every page, only use graphics, audio, or video if they enhance your message. Also, ensure that your website is customer-friendly.
The web host you choose is an important consideration as well. You can have a top-notch website, but it will do you no good if your host has too much downtime or if the speed of browsing your site is too slow.
In addition to checking out reviews online, consider asking your personal and business network contacts. Other online business owners, in particular, can provide invaluable information about a web host’s reliability.
Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.
There are several search engines you can use for this. However, Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically.
First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices, and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers.
When you build an opt-in list, you are creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have permitted you to send them an email. That means you are giving them something they’ve asked for and also developing lifetime relationships with them.
Anyone who visits your site and opts into your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than email for following up with those leads.
Do not get discouraged
There are no two ways about it. Building a business is hard work. It requires a lot of trying and failing and trying again. That applies to every step of the above process. You’ll likely have to try various marketing tactics before finding what works.
Your success will ultimately depend on you sticking with it long enough to succeed through all the obstacles and challenges that come your way. As Steve Jobs famously said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
FAQ On How to Start an Online Business Easily
Can I start an online business without money?
Yes. You can start an online business easily without money. This however depends on the type of online business you have decided to venture into.
Does an online business require a trademark?
It is not a strict requirement. But if you have one, it could be an added advantage for you.
Does my online business need these steps and requirements?
This is your choice. The steps above can serve as a guide, but also remember to do what works for you.
How do I pick my online business name?
In choosing a name for your online business, make sure the name you want is available as a business name in your state, domain name, username on each of the social media platforms you plan to use
Can I employ people for my online business?
Absolutely. You can employ someone to manage your online business if you have something else doing, or even if you simply need a professional to help you work on it.
Building your own online business is an entrepreneurial pursuit, one that can impact the rest of your life. It can give you financial and personal freedom. It can give you time for the things that matter most in life. And it can even help you make a meaningful impact on the world.
It’s time to take back control of your life and do something you’ve never done before. It’s time to build an online business. It’s time to take a little risk for a potentially massive payoff. And this guide on how to start an online business easily is your first step towards success.
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