Setting up an online business is a great way to work and earn money from home. It also gives you access to millions of clients and helps you launch a revenue stream with minimal cash. And the good thing is there is no shortage of online business ideas these days.
Although the internet has a huge potential for first-time entrepreneurs, starting an online business might be more challenging than you think. Competition is fierce and in order to beat it, you have to start thinking more strategically.
Read these 7 proven tips to help you get your first online business off the ground.
Know Your Niche
Most industries are crowded with various e-commerce companies. So, if you want to be distinguished in this ever-growing competitive space, you should define your own niche – a large enough group of people with similar needs, wants, and desires who are willing to pay for your unique products and services. In fact, your ideal niche is at the intersection of your passions, your skills, market demand, and new trends in the world.
The first step to building your audience involves doing some basic research. Look for an underserved market, see what is not being offered, and build from there. There are always unfilled gaps in the market that you can fill with your creative efforts.
Build a Brand
An exceptional brand name helps to identify your business and differentiate it. Choose a name that is truly original so that it won’t seem like a cheap imitation. The last thing you want is to be accused of trademark infringement. So do some research before you decide on a company name.
If you’re going to have your own website, your brand name could also affect your ranking in search engines. Your domain name should be clear, catchy, memorable, and easy to spell. Avoid using hyphens in your domain name since they make your brand appear spammy.
Choose a Marketplace
Third-party e-commerce platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon let you offer your products and services to a global audience. However, selecting the right one makes a huge difference because each platform caters to a specific type of user with specific needs.
You might also want to consider creating your own website. Platforms like Shopify, Teachable, Kajabi, or WordPress allow you to create websites with ease. Shopify is suitable for physical products, whereas Teachable or Kajabi is perfect for online courses and other digital products. WordPress is a highly customizable platform and allows you to sell both physical and digital products.
You might be wondering why there are different platforms for different products, and this guide by SupplyGem specifically explains why selling physical products with platforms such as Kajabi isn’t the best idea.
Creating your own website means that you’ll have more control and you’ll be responsible for creating your own brand. However, third-party marketplaces are great if you’re just starting out
For example, an Amazon business is perfect for retail arbitrage, drop-shipping, or starting your own private label. What is the Amazon business? It lets you sell your products on Amazon’s storefront and the company will take care of all the packaging and shipping for you. There are plenty of tips on how to start an Amazon business, but perhaps the most helpful one is to research software such as IoScout to find low-competition high-profit products you can source.
Whichever platform you select, make sure it is attractive to your target audience and check how many leads you can generate through it. Don’t forget that a good online marketplace is the one that creates a great customer experience and helps you retain your customers.
Create Quality Content
Earning the right position in your industry takes much more work than starting an online business. Without putting enough effort into your content production process, it’s easy to miss out on the best opportunities.
Right now, content marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your business online. Through informative engaging content, you can establish trust and build long-term relationships with your customers before and after they pay you.
Try to be as helpful as you can. Discover customer pain points and present honest useful solutions with extensive detail. This lets you earn their trust over time.
Using multimedia makes your content much more engaging. When it comes to images and videos, quality is king. Products with quality imagery are more likely to convince customers. Investing in professional photography (assuming you can afford it) is a wise strategy, but if you’re on a tight budget, simply buy signature stock images from online websites.
Be Active on Social Media
Cultivating your brand on social networking sites is the recipe for a successful online business as there’s an ever-increasing number of social media users. Roughly forty-five percent of the world’s population is now using at least one social media platform such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Find out which platforms your users are most active on and then target them accordingly. In addition to the popular sites everyone knows, there are countless social networking platforms for special purposes. So, for example, if you’re starting an online business that serves graphic designers, don’t ignore places like DeviantArt, Dribbble, or Behance. Sometimes, having a presence on just one social network isn’t enough. To get the best results, make sure you dedicate enough resources to your social media activities.
Getting your business off the ground is not something that happens overnight. Initially, you may offer a specialized service to a small group of individuals, i.e. your niche. But as you build and scale your online business, other ways of making money will emerge.
In order to survive and thrive online, entrepreneurs need to find opportunities to create multiple revenue streams. No one can afford to rely on the same source of income for a long time without losing ground to their competition. Plus, diversification lowers your risk by distributing it over several channels.
Partnerships with other brands, dropshipping, affiliate marketing, offering consulting services, and publishing e-books are useful ways of expanding and diversifying your business.
Learn about Licensing Requirements
All companies require business authorization, whether they are online or sell from a physical storefront. Even if your state doesn’t require an e-commerce license, understanding online business laws, trademark considerations, and other regulatory restrictions keeps you away from the risk of heavy fines.
Contact your state’s taxation department to learn about tax regulations as well as the licensing department in your region to check whether you must obtain permits for your virtual activities. You will also want to consider setting up a separate entity to operate under, like an LLC, so that you’re able to protect yourself and your personal assets while running an online business.
Whether you’re a newbie entrepreneur or a seasoned businessman, there are long-established principles that all businesses have to follow in order to achieve success. Starting an online business is not an exception. Frankly, there are no tricks or shortcuts that can make you an overnight success, but you can learn how to start a business online just like you learn any other skill – through hard work and patience.