Do you want the freedom of working anywhere with WiFi? Are you sick of limited annual leave and having a boss? If so, running an online business could be the ideal career path for you.
Like any small business, there are risks to starting an online business. And if you are new to the entrepreneurial world, you may not know where to begin.
But as long as you do your research and plan ahead, there is no reason why you cannot run a thriving online business owner.
This guide will help you through the process of setting up an online business and running it too.
Step 1: Choose an Online Business and Make a Plan
Chances are you already know what kind of online business you would like to run. But if you need some inspiration, these are types of businesses you could run online:
- Digital marketing
- Selling products
- Web or software developing
- Content creating
- Customer service
Only your imagination limits what you can do online. There are more options available every year thanks to advancements in technology.
After you have decided what kind of online business you would like to run, it is time to make a business plan. Depending on outside investments, it might include lots of details or you might prefer to create a flexible roadmap.
Here are Some Things you Should Consider Including in Your Business Plan:
- Business description and rough overview
- Number of employees, their roles, and responsibilities
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- List of products or services provided
- Sales and marketing plan
- Financial plan
- Projections and goals
Some of these considerations may be unnecessary for your business model. But, when running a business, it is important to set intentions so you can keep focus.
Having focus and drive is vital now you are the boss!
Step 2: Research Legal and Tax Requirements
You might be running an online business, but you still need to abide by the laws and tax requirements of your resident country and/or state.
You may want to get legal advice from a professional in your field. There could be licenses and exemptions you can (or need to) get.
You will also need to decide the business structure for your online business, for instance:
- Sole contractor i.e. freelancer
- Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
No matter which applies to you, do your research now. You are less likely to hit obstacles later on and will avoid many headaches.
Step 3: Set Up a Website and Digital Marketing Strategy
Around one-third of small businesses do not have a business website. If you are running an online business, a website is a non-negotiable essential.
It is the virtual place where clients and customers will either find you or find out more about you.
Choose a domain name, buy a hosting plan, and a theme from somewhere like Themeforest. Check your domain name on a program like namecheckr and claim the same social media handles.
Create the following pages on your website:
- eCommerce (if relevant)
If you are clueless about digital marketing, it is time to either learn or hire professionals. Digital marketing is the main tool online businesses need to use to attract clients and customers.
Step 4: Invest In the Right Tools
But what about the actual tools? What hardware and software do you need when running an online business?
It is different for every business model. Plus, online businesses have the option of working from an office, on the road, or at home.
Depending on your set up, consider investing in the following tools:
- Powerful laptop
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Portable battery charger
- Google or Microsoft application suite
- Productivity software
- Office equipment e.g. printer and scanner
- Office furniture
You may also want to organize a courier service and customer service software.
Step 5: Establish Your Expertise and Build a Good Reputation
In the movie Field of Dreams, the famous quote is “if you build it, they will come.” There might be some truth in that, but do not underestimate how much you need to “build” first. And the building never stops!
You need to establish your expertise among potential clients and customers to get the proverbial ball rolling.
Happy clients and customers lead to good reviews and recommendations. And they lead to, yes, more clients and customers. It is a wonderful wheel of fortune.
Blog and Website Content
One way to establish your expertise in your industry is to start a blog. By having a blog on your company website, you can harness the power of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
High-ranking blog posts in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) means more traffic to your website and more potential clients and customers.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce store specializing in vegan leather. You could write blog posts about the different types of vegan leather, how eco-conscious it is, and how to style different accessories.
Potential customers will have a query, you will answer that query, and so they will trust your opinion and value your products.
Email List and Social Media Content
Both social media and email newsletters are great for online businesses to share news, products, services, and run promotions.
First, you can attract new customers and clients by running Google and social media advertisements. Then, promotions are great to motivate them to sign up for your newsletter.
But once you gain a local following, you can concentrate 80% of your attention on serving your existing and loyal customers.
Step 6: Reassess, Review, and Reset
Any big business has monthly or quarterly finance meetings and annual reviews with its employees. Small and online businesses should do the same.
You must review what is and is not working. You also need to be on top of your accounts and making sure you and your employees are happy. Set calendar reminders so you never forget these assessments.
Running an Online Business in Six Easy Steps
Running an online business is not easy, but the flexibility and creative control are worth it. More and more businesses are moving online so you will be a pioneer and ahead of the curve.
Like this article? Check out our other business articles for more tips and advice!