Nowadays, more and more people wish to start their own business, and often they choose to rely on the online model. That comes with no surprise, given that the 2020 global health crisis has caused many companies to face difficult times, and some even announced bankruptcy.
To avoid such unfavorable outcomes and to help you successfully start your online business, I’ve decided to pour all of my experience and knowledge into this article. I will be listing all of the things you need to consider in the beginning, answer some important questions and help you create a working plan. It is always easier to achieve your goals when you have clear steps you should follow. So without further ado, here is what you need to know when starting an online business in 2021.
Disclaimer: This article contains some affiliate links for products or services we have previously used or reviewed and believe in their quality. This does not result in any additional costs or obligations for you – our readers. If you are not sure what affiliate links are, we will talk about this in point 3 of this article, so keep reading 🙂
1. Get in the Right Mindset – What You Can Expect When Starting and Developing an Online Business – Pros and Cons
It sounds great to be a business owner, right? Many people envision gorgeous houses, cars, yachts, vacations, snapping fingers all day, but that is at a pretty extreme stage when the business is already well developed. To get to that point, you need to invest time and effort, and most importantly – to have the right mindset. It’s important because if you don’t set yourself up well at the start, you’ll give up at the first difficulty, and we don’t want that, do we?
Furthermore, some people discover that they just don’t like to be business owners and prefer the job security of the big company. We are all different, plus if everyone wanted and enjoyed running their own business, the whole world would be full of companies with only one employee – the owner 🙂
To make sure all the hard work is worth it, see what the pros and cons of starting your own online business are and decide if you really want it.
1.1 Why Start an Online Business – Pros and Cons
Pros of owning your own business:
- You choose what to do – you can do what you are interested in, enjoy, and are inspired by.
- You choose where to work – in an office, from the mountains, the sea, the couch, the other side of the world… The decision is yours!
- You can choose when to work – During the daytime, at night or whenever you want.
- You can choose how much to work – 2, 8 or 16 hours a day, a week or half a month.
- You choose who to work with – if you don’t like a client, you can decide not to do business with them.
- There are no limits to what you can achieve.
In one word – freedom. For me, it has proven to be extremely important, and I am happy that I took this decision for myself in 2016.
Cons of owning your own business:
- Difficult start – if someone explains to you how super easy it is to start a business as if by magic, they are setting up the wrong expectations that eventually will lead to disappointment. Be prepared that in the beginning, things are not going to be that easy. There is a lot to learn, as you will see in the following steps, and at times you will be scratching your head wondering what you have gotten yourself into with this new venture.
- Lack of security – again, in the beginning, when people don’t know you, you don’t have an established brand and loyal customers, forget about security. There will be nights you won’t sleep to calculate how much money you have until the end of the month and whether you will be able to cover your costs.
- You would do everything on your own – At first, when you don’t have any staff members, everything lays on your shoulders.
- Sleepless nights – They can be the result of the larger workload you can’t finish on time or the many worries and fears that accompany every new beginning.
A Short Personal Story about Fear and Success
When I left my last “secure office job”, my savings were enough to last me half a year. By doing some dropshipping and multilevel marketing, I managed to increase them to cover my expenses for another 6 months. At first, everything was great because I knew I had money in the bank, and I was still receiving unemployment benefits.
And then came September of 2017, and all I had was 200 BGN ( or 120$ /100 € / 88£ ).
Yes, that was it, all of it.
That was my monthly fee to the accountant! You can probably imagine the panic, the terror, the fear that I wouldn’t make it. I was also single at that point, so I felt all alone. To give you a better idea… for my birthday on September 13, I asked friends for shampoo…
Yeah, it was that bad of a situation.
But at one point, I told myself that I could always get a job somewhere if I had to and calmed down. And honestly, my friends helped a lot with sentences like “As long as I have food on the table, so do you”, for which I will be forever grateful.
And I didn’t give up.
Now, I’m super happy about it. That is partly why I am writing this article – to help some of you, and why not all of you start your businesses, and years from now be super, mega, hyper happy with the decision you made and the courage you had to act.
1.2 The Motivation Behind “I Want My Own Online Business”
To go through challenges more easily (I don’t like the word “problems” because then the brain shuts down and doesn’t look for a solution), give yourself a clear picture of what motivates you to want your own business. Not just “I want to work for myself,” but what is the deeper reason?
Mine, besides freedom and all the pros listed above, are:
- I want to travel to all kinds of interesting parts of the world and have the opportunity to get to know different people and cultures.
- I want to be able to give my daughter the chance to learn through experience, i.e. as we travel to see different jobs, situations, people, worldviews so that she can better orient herself to what she wants to do when she grows up.
- I want to have the opportunity to spend more time with my child and not have my day be a routine – wake up, breakfast, work 8-9 hours, come home, dinner, movie, sleep.
- I want to create something useful for more people. It satisfies me to know I’ve been helpful.
- I want to live in Bulgaria (my home), but with income from all over the world.
- I want to show my daughter and the people who need it, that a person can build a successful business from the ground up and live the way they dream.
These are my reasons. What are yours? Don’t go ahead before you’ve answered 🙂
Now that you know what your motivation is if you’re willing to go through the nerves, the stress, the downs (which are always uniquely helpful lessons), then let’s dive into the vast world of business and entrepreneurship 🙂
2. Find the Right Idea for Your Online Business
This is the time to ask how well you know yourself? What do you like to do? Is there something that, when you get down to it, the time passes without you noticing? Do you do anything that gives you pleasure – painting, crafting, knitting, sewing, organizing events, or anything else? Or maybe something you are very good at and friends and acquaintances seek you out for it – online marketing, accounting, coaching, strategy development, logistics, networking, childcare, breastfeeding, etc.?
It could even be the activity you do at your current job, but you want to branch out, start your own company and run it according to your values and understanding?
Or maybe you’re not the most creative person, but you’re great with people and want an e-commerce store selling goods produced by someone else.
Whatever it is, make a list of a few things and think about what would bring you the most satisfaction. After all, much of your day-to-day life in the coming months and years will involve doing just that, so it’s good to like your new company’s activities.
And if someone tells you how you can’t make money from your hobby… don’t believe them!
You can make a business out of anything, as long as it brings a benefit or a positive experience to people.
It is not necessary to always solve a problem of vital importance, as it is described everywhere “what problem can you solve for people”. Art, for example, doesn’t solve a particular everyday problem, but we can’t do without it, can we? We can live without cinema, theatre, dance, jewelry, but there will always be customers for them. Yes, in times of recession, these are the first expenses to be cut, and income may go down, but again always in a crisis, some lose and others gain. Meaning, the world’s cash is being redistributed, and it’s possible for your target audience to simply change.
And the most important thing to keep in mind here! When you choose an idea, it is not said that you have to do it for the rest of your life. Gone are the days where our parents retired where they started working at the age of 20. It’s even trendy to try different things now, so as long as you have the desire to run your own business, you can try out various ideas. You could start a business, find you don’t like it, sell it and launch a new one.
An example with a friend of mine. Within a year she, with the help of her boyfriend, made an e-store that worked quite well. However, after a few months, she discovered that it wasn’t what she expected. She didn’t feel like working from home, missed the office and her ex-team. So she sold the business and went back to her old job. And now she is super happy there.
The possibilities are endless, so deciding on a specific idea now doesn’t mean you will be stuck with it forever. Know that you can change things at any time. Тhat thought brought me a lot of peace of mind when I caught myself overanalyzing what to do and whether I was making a mistake.
No, not a mistake. It’s an experience! And success without experience can’t be achieved 🙂 So roll up your sleeves and make a list of a few different ideas that would be suitable for an online business.
3. Discover Which Business Model Best Suits Your Work Idea
There are a couple of different online business models that we will take a closer look at. While reading, keep in mind, you are not obligated to pick only one, but can also combine them.
This model is usually preferred by ex-employees who wish to have their own business but don’t want to establish a company and hire staff members. They liked their previous job but wanted to do it on their terms. Many designers, photographers, actors, programmers, video editors, handymen, web developers, and so on, choose this line of work. There are countless sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Etsy that offer freelancing jobs. In addition, you can find thousands of Facebook groups for freelancers. These platforms are the ideal place for building a reputation and finding new clients and projects.
This business model is suitable to start with. Once your business develops and you decide you want to grow further, you can switch to the classic model with a company, employees, etc. If you want! If you don’t, you can work like that for the rest of your life.
You need to plan your strategy well, so you don’t end up with weeks/months without work while you look for a new project. This has its dangers early on when you still don’t have a portfolio and established reputation. With time and if you provide a quality service/product, people will get to know you. Satisfied clients will recommend you to their family and friends, and slowly the periods without clients/projects will diminish and even disappear.
3.2 Coaching and Consultancy
You can become an expert in a field, if you are not already, and sell your expertise, knowledge, advice, and guidance. So if you are more into mentoring and guiding people, maybe this business model is for you. Again, the same challenges as for freelancers are there – finding clients, but that’s a marketing issue, and we’ll talk about that later.
Consider whether your experience, knowledge, and interests are a good fit for this business model.
Something I would like to point out is that this business model usually involves a lot of communication with a variety of different people. Make yourself aware of whether this is something that you want or would rather burden you. Have you ever come across a seminar/course/lecture where the topic is not explained well, and you’re expected to know everything? Or when the audience questions get too much, the presenter gets tense and rushes to finish? But this is your business, and if you don’t like talking to people often, it will show at some point and can lead to negative reviews. So decide to what degree you want to communicate and to what extent you prefer working in peace without being constantly interrupted.
There is no right or wrong. What is important is that you feel comfortable, so your customers are also happy in the end.
3.3 Standard Retail E-Commerce
This is every online store that sells physical products and keeps goods in stock:
- all sorts of gadgets,
- and anything else you can think of.
For this business model, you need to have a bigger initial budget to keep merchandise in stock (or at first in your basement, closet, hallway, or on your balcony). Unless, of course, you are the one producing the goods. Then, depending on the timeframe for which you can make the given item, you can decide how much to pre-stock. After all, you don’t want orders to start coming in, and you can’t fulfill them, do you? Although I wish you that over having the goods and no orders 😀
This is again an e-commerce model for goods, but with one small difference. Here you don’t stock up on goods in advance or even have them come to you. How does it work? I will give you an example with Amazon.
So you are browsing Aliexpress and find a product that, in your opinion, will sell well. What you do next is to offer it at a slightly higher price on Amazon. When somebody buys it, you order the item from Aliexpress, using the customer’s delivery information.
This way you avoid investing money up-front because the products are paid from the end buyer. You are just the middle-man that doesn’t have to deal with any logistics and delivery – that is the job of the supplier.
To be fair, I have tried this business model before, and I’m not fond of it.
First, I didn’t like that I was just jacking up the price without adding any additional value to the product. Second, the shipment was out of my control, so I couldn’t add anything from me to show my appreciation to the customer – a nice wrapping, a handwritten note, or a card. Finally, when there is a problem with delivery, the customer complains to you, and there is not much you can do about it.
I would recommend using this model for a trial period until you find a product that sells well. From there on, make your own brand, have a personal relationship with your customers, and build a sustainable business. Dropshipping is not a good long-term model, as anyone can see from your ads that an item is doing well and copy the model for a few days. Then a struggle for the price starts, and after a few weeks, that product is no longer bringing you any profit.
But of course, this is just my opinion, and I don’t want to burden anyone with it. If it’s the right model for your business idea, give it a try. You might like it.
3.5 Sell Your Own Digital Products
This includes all eBooks, checklists, online courses, webinars, online events, templates, reusable designs, weight loss programs, and generally anything digital.
This model complements the coaching/consulting model perfectly.
A big plus here is that you don’t have any initial expenses for the creation of the product. However, it will take a lot of time if you want to produce something of value. Another bonus is that after you receive the payment, the delivery happens instantly via email.
A great example of a digital product is my book “Create a Website and Profit”. There are no additional expenses for printing, storage, distribution, and delivery, which allows you to sell at a lower price.
You can create digital products for marketing purposes. They are free and usually don’t take long to create. Their purpose is to gain your potential clients’ trust by gifting them with something useful. Here are some examples of these types of digital products – freebies.
3.6 Software as a Service (SaaS)
This business model includes apps and software that you can charge customers for on a one-time or monthly/yearly subscription plan. Developers and people with knowledge and experience in this field would have an easier time here. Or, of course, anyone with the means to pay a specialist.
The advantage of SaaS is that you can count on a relatively steady and predictable income through subscription plans. As long as your software is really useful and your customers are happy, it is only a matter of time and a good marketing strategy to succeed.
3.7 Affiliate Marketing
The last business model that we will have a look at is affiliate marketing. But what does that mean? You promote other people’s goods/services and get a commission for each sale that is due to your advertising. Or in other words, you send leads to a business and if they buy, you get a bonus.
Here again, the shipping is not your responsibility, but unlike dropshipping, with affiliate marketing, you don’t deal with customer service either. Imagine recommending to friends and family a product or service that you are happy with and know works well. It’s the same, only in this case, if they buy it, you get a percentage of the value of their order.
It is good to recommend services and products whose quality you are sure of. You may not have tried them specifically, but a friend/relative has. Rely on quality so that your affiliate business grows and people trust you.
I started using this business model very recently (there are some affiliate links in this article). Therefore I can’t give you a definite opinion yet, but I certainly like it better than dropshipping. With affiliate marketing, there is no markup for the customer to pay, but a percentage of the price the supplier sells at. Your job is just to send leads 🙂
However, this means that you have almost no control over events, which is a minus. But you can combine this model with coaching + digital products for optimal results.
Well, have you been able to find a model that’s right for your startup?
Or maybe even a few?
Great! Write down for each idea from point 2 which business model(s) would be suitable, and let’s move on to the next step.
4. What Is Your Current Budget and How to Secure the Needed Capital
Most people think that you can only start a business if you have thousands saved in the bank. But in fact, it depends on the business model. Yes, if you want to open a physical store like Decathlon or Walmart, you will need a solid amount. Or if you decide to open a tanning salon and want to have the most expensive machines.
But to launch an online business, you don’t need a large initial capital.
You can also create an online business with zero investment. If you decide to offer services, you can initially find clients in the freelancing community. Or if you are going to sell goods, there are plenty of sites and groups for that too.
Again an example with a friend of mine whose daughter I also have the honor of being godmother to. She bought a play mat (rug) for the little one and liked it so much she decided to try selling some. She found a supplier to buy from cheaply and made a Facebook page. She posts in moms’ groups (there are special ones for selling kids stuff), or if a mom asks for a mat, she puts a link to her page in a comment – nothing pushy or intrusive. And where is the warehouse, you ask? In the hallway of her apartment. For now!
Another friend of mine makes beautiful cardboard cakes for kids, gifts for weddings, cards, baskets with candy, flowers, wine, etc. She also made a Facebook page and invited friends to like it. Sharing here and there, and at the moment, she has more orders than she can handle.
Well, yes, it will be easier if you have an advertising budget, but just because the other option is slower and sometimes harder, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Everyone starts somewhere. The question is, how much effort are you willing to put in to make things work.
4.1 The Most Common Expenses for an Online Business Startup
Here are the usual costs of an online business. Let’s see which ones you need from the beginning and which you can gradually add.
- Goods – if you will be buying them from a supplier in advance.
- Materials to make products – if you will be making them
- Website – you can start with a site made by yourself on a ready-made platform like WordPress, Shopify, or Wix. When your business takes off, then you can invest in a better website if that is needed. Should you do it by yourself, your annual cost will include a domain, hosting, and SSL certificate, which on average is around 120$/100 €/88£. But you don’t have to do it right from the get-go. You can safely start with a Facebook page, like the two examples above.
- Advertising – initially can be done by word of mouth, friends, acquaintances, and Facebook groups. When you already have a budget, invest it in advertising to reach new customers.
- Accounting – remember, at some point, you need to register a company and keep monthly accounts. We will talk about that a little later.
- Software – for example, email marketing, CRM system, and other software you won’t need from the start.
As you can see, the business model that requires a bigger starting budget is the standard e-shop, where you have to pre-stock goods. The others can be launched with zero investment.
4.2 Obtaining Initial Capital
If you still need start-up capital, here are some ideas on how to raise it:
- Relatives and friends – you may be embarrassed to ask, but remember this is your closest circle of people who know you and believe in you. Ask a few of them for a small amount or request a larger sum from one or two. It depends on the financial situation of the people around you. Never be embarrassed to ask. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no 😉 Don’t let shame stop you. What if your idea can turn into a highly successful business, and you can live the life of your dreams? Is it worth one inconvenience to ask for 200-500-1000 bucks, to take away everything you can have?
- Organize some sort of event that has an entrance fee – the activity has to be fun or worthwhile so that people are willing to pay you for it and attend. When I was with 200 bucks, from the story at the beginning of the article, a friend of mine and I organized an all-day SEO training. 21 people signed up and paid for it! Of course, we split the revenue. There were expenses for materials and hall, but for a one-day job, it was exceptionally good and I wasn’t expecting it at all (I got the necessary funds and peace of mind for the next 1 whole month).
- Taking a loan is always an option, but I don’t favor it. The stress you will have about whether you will succeed will increase and take away from your focus on growing the business. But if you do decide to take out a loan, check all your options thoroughly, ask about hidden fees and I would recommend using a credit advisor. They usually manage to get the interest rate down a notch, and any reduction in the cost is good for your business.
- Funding programs – depending on the nature of your business, you can apply for different funding projects. This takes a little longer, and applying does not guarantee you will win.
Investors – here, you should already have a serious expansion project, a business plan and usually be at a more advanced stage of your idea’s implementation.
- Crowdfunding – you may have heard of Krowdster or Kickstarter – those are platforms for raising funds from the public. If you have a cool project, people can donate money to make it happen. Or, if they pay a larger amount, they can get something in return, like the product for free or some special gift. The game Exploding Kittens was created this way 🙂
For the start of a small online business, I would stick with the first two options. However, the others are good to keep in mind for later.
5. Who Are Your Potential Clients
So, now when you have a solid idea, a suitable business model and you have or can raise the funds to launch it, it is time to find out who your potential customers are. Who would buy what you have to offer?
This step is important so can you roughly assess:
- how big your potential market is,
- which marketing channels would be suitable,
- what style and expression suits your business, you as a person, and your potential customers
Describe your ideal client:
- Marital status
- Financial situation
- Problems and challenges they are looking to solve (may not have realized them yet)
- Goals and where they want to go
I will give you an example with the ideal client (buyer persona) for my book, as it is a real case.
- Age – 33
- Sex– female
- Location – Bulgaria
- Interests – entrepreneurship, owning your own business, marketing, “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, etc.
- Marital status – not relevant in my case
- Financial situation – average
- Problems and challenges – She wants an online business but doesn’t know how to make a working website or improve the existing one. And she wishes to do it herself, at least at first, until the business takes off and can afford to hire people.
- Goals and where she wants to go – She wants a working online business that brings her the desired monthly income.
Here the “gap” my book fills is “doesn’t know how to make a working website or improve an existing one”. It’s not that there isn’t enough information on the internet, but many people get confused by all the different resources and which one to follow. I provide it in an orderly and structured way. Everything is in one place, explained with examples from day to day life.
In the beginning, it may be difficult to pinpoint who your buyer persona is, but at least you can generally filter them.
There is something important that I have to emphasize. Never, ever, for anything in business, assume that people think, like, and have the same expectations as you. Everyone is different, and the sooner you realize, that unfortunately (to the ego), our opinions are not universally valid, the better. Always, always, always test every single hypothesis. You never know where the golden goose will pop out 🙂
Otherwise, by assuming you risk closing the door, that could have been the most profitable for you.
6. Validate Your Idea
So far, so good. You have an idea, a business model, possibly a budget, potential customers, but now it’s time to find out if they’re willing to pay for what you’re offering. Sometimes ideas are a good thing, but not every idea turns into a profitable business.
However, sometimes the reason is not in the concept. Yes, if you offer a service or a product that no one needs, the idea may be the problem, but often it’s not. After all, some people buy a box of air, as a gift for the person who has everything, or maybe this toilet paper. Look at how many reviews they both have, and that means sales are even more. If you poke around on the internet, you’ll find a lot of this stuff.
This suggests that some ideas just need to use the appropriate marketing to attract the right type of audience.
So, until you find out who would give money for your idea/product, don’t continue.
This is a key point. Many people make the mistake of investing an enormous amount of time and money into developing expensive websites, marketing campaigns, and so on without even checking whether someone would want to buy what they sell.
I want to emphasize “buy”, not just say “ooh very cool, I like it”. How many times have you also thought something was cool but decided against purchasing it? So be careful that the idea is validated by actual potential buyers, not just people who find your idea interesting.
6.1 How Can You Validate Your Business Idea
- Post on your Facebook or other social media profile – describe what you offer and that for the first 10 sign-ups there will be a 50% discount. Check out what the level of interest is. If you are providing a service, you can perform it – design, marketing consultation, coaching session, or something else. You can get your first clients on the validation stage. The important thing here is to present yourself and your service in the best possible way to make your potential client want to buy it. For merchandise, you can collect pre-orders, and you decide whether to include a discount. Don’t forget to ask friends to share your post so it reaches more people.
- Post in Facebook groups or other relevant sites – Join groups that your potential customers from point 5 are in. Review the posts of the group members. Find those who are asking a question for which you provide the answer through your service/product. Yes, it takes a little time, but it’s worth knowing whether to invest more in this idea or move on to another.
Start by offering your products/services to your closest circle. Here you might be thinking “Yeah, but if I reveal my business idea, they might steal it”. Don’t worry, no one will take it from you. Generating ideas is easy, but implementing them is the hard part. And even if someone does something similar to yours, the differentiator here is you! It’s up to you how you treat your customers, how much you rely on marketing, how you build your website, what type of speaking style you have, and a bunch of other things.
So bravely spread the word about what you want to do and what you’re offering. There’s no telling where a potential partner, big client, or growth opportunity you never even knew existed might pop up.
Once you’ve validated your idea with people who are actually willing to pay for your service or product, we can get to the next point:
7. Who Are Your Competitors, and What Can You Do Better Than Them
Don’t worry about the competition. The possibility of not having any competitors is close to impossible. So many things have already been invented that it is extremely difficult to do something totally new and different.
But that is not a problem at all.
After all, there are so many hotels, and new ones keep opening all over the world because of the high demand. Some are going bankrupt due to poor management, inadequate or bad marketing, and terrible service. All the while, others are prospering and booked for months to come. Having an idea is great, but implementation is what defines whether one succeeds and another fails.
You can definitely do better than at least some of your competition.
This is where I give you the example of Richard Branson. You probably know that he is the owner of the Virgin Group. The corporation has under its umbrella airlines, a record label, and even a space travel business! Branson has founded over 25 companies in various sectors. Most of them are not original (except maybe Virgin Galactic) and instead are in trivial sectors like hotels, bookshops, etc. But his goal has always been to provide a better customer experience, and today, Branson’s net worth is over $5 billion.
So don’t worry about competition, on the contrary. Consider it an incentive on how to create something better – product, service, experience, value.
7.1 With the Validated Idea in Mind, Check Who Your Competitors Are:
- What do they offer;
- What their websites look like;
- What keywords and phrases do they use to get their sites to rank higher in the search engine result pages (SERP);
- How they describe their products/services;
- What ads they run;
- How they behave with their customers (call, email, and check them as if you are their customer);
- Do they offer anything different or unique;
- What kind of manufacturing materials do they use;
- What their prices are;
- Do they have a loyalty program;
- What promotions they do.
Once you’ve researched your competitors like a diligent detective, think about what different or extra you can offer. Which of the above can you do better?
Try to come up with at least one! If you can’t think of a single thing you can do better, it might not be a good idea to take on this niche. Especially if the competition is fierce.
You need to know what your unique selling point (USP) is compared to others. Otherwise, you’ll just have another mediocre business with an uncertain future.
8. Think about the Legal Requirements
This topic is usually quite vague for those just entering the business world. Here’s what you need to think about:
- What type of business will your company be (LLC, LLP, etc.)
- Do you need VAT registration
- Who will do the monthly bookkeeping
- Do you need a cash register
- Opening a company bank account – thoroughly investigate all fees including those for foreign transfers and currency conversions
- Meeting with a lawyer – check if there are any additional regulations for your business and have someone with experience write the Terms and Conditions and Security Policy for your website.
These are the initial things to think about. Let’s be honest. Sometimes people start working in the grey sector until they see if things will take off and then register a company. However, once you have a solid business concept and model, I recommend consulting an accountant/lawyer. There may be some specifics for your niche, and it’s good to be well aware of the situation.
Keep in mind you have to meet different requirements depending on the laws of the country where your company is registered. Furthermore, if you operate in the European Union, you should also review its regulations based on the business model you have chosen.
Think carefully and discuss with your lawyer or settlement manager whether:
- You need a VAT registration.
- You should have a cash register or there are other more specific requirements regarding online payments and the documents you need to issue for them.
Another important aspect concerns taxes. Taxation is different for each country, and sometimes there are particular requirements concerning online trade.
I don’t recommend that you try to work under the table for too long, ignoring the laws, because the financial penalties are quite high.
9. Find a Supplier/Create a Product
It’s time to talk about the product/service you will be selling.
9.1 If You Have Chosen to Sell Goods Manufactured by Someone Else:
You need to find a supplier for them. There are a few things to watch out for:
- Price – with the markup you’re going to put on, will you be competitive оn the market?
- Minimum quantity you need to order
- Manufacturing time if they don’t have it in stock
- Delivery time – keep in mind that shipments from China are sometimes very slow and occasionally don’t arrive.
- What quality assurances do they give
- Return/exchange policy
- How reliable is the supplier
Order small quantities at first, until you are convinced of the quality of the goods and the customer service. You don’t want to find yourself stuck with poor quality products from China only to wonder what to do with them later, do you?
9.2 If You Have Decided to Sell Goods Produced by Yourself
- Find a supplier for the materials according to the above-mentioned criteria.
- Check if you need any permits required by the legislation of the country where you manufacture/sell
- Estimate your production time so you don’t get overwhelmed with work and have a clear idea of how long you can complete X number of orders
- Find a suitable place to store the goods.
9.3 If You Have Opted to Sell Your Digital Product
- Decide what you need and whether you can do it yourself or require the help of a designer/developer.
- If you’re going to sell an online course, you could run it in a closed Facebook group or Zoom. Don’t rush into buying expensive and complex software and integrations until you are confident that your business model and course will be profitable.
9.4 If You Have Set Out to Sell Someone Else’s Digital Product
- Make sure it is of quality and value to ensure your customers remain satisfied.
- Decide who should handle customer service – you or the owner of the digital product. It usually depends on the business model you chose in point 3.
10. How to Set the Price
This is yet another question that troubles many startup entrepreneurs in the beginning.
Here’s what you need to calculate into the price:
- The cost of creating/supplying the product
- Delivery cost to the client, consider whether it will be included in the final price, calculated separately or split between both parts
- Taxes, depending on the laws of the country where your company is registered.
- Advertising budget, for SEO, paid ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, or other similar sites.
- VAT, the percentages depend on the current laws in the country where your company is registered.
- Profit – don’t forget to calculate your profit margin! After all, you put all that work in so that you end up with a result you’re happy with.
To stay on track with the market, look at the research from point 7 you have done on your competitors and their prices. If the sales tag you have set by the criteria listed above is average or low compared to the market – good! You might even consider raising it a little. Don’t go for the lowest price. Instead offer more value through additional bonuses, gifts, complimentary services, etc.
However, if the price is higher, you either need to reduce expenses or offer greater value to your customers so they will be willing to pay more. You can also work with the average order value (AOV) – instead of selling one shampoo, what promotion can you do to sell, say 3. The price to bring in one customer is the same, but the amount you get out of them is higher. It’s like reducing the advertising expense. There are different options, just don’t give up if you don’t like your first price calculation.
11. Create a Website, a Sales Funnel, or a Place to Showcase the Goods/Services Your Online Business Offers
Often people associate an online business with a website, and that is not exactly the case. The idea of a site is to show the products/services you offer. After all, no one will come to buy from you if they don’t know you exist, right? But that’s far from your only option. I guess it’s strange to hear it from someone who deals predominately with websites’ optimization, but it’s a fact.
11.1 Options for “Displaying” Products/Services Online
- Personal/corporate website
- Sales funnel
- Facebook page
- Platforms like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Fiverr, Upwork, 99designs, Pixabay and more
- Combination of several or all of them
11.2 What Does Each One Mean and When Is It Appropriate to Use It
11.2.1 Personal/Corporate Website
It includes all types of websites – blog, business card, e-shop. You choose how it looks, texts, design, way of making – everything.
|The control is yours – you don’t depend on algorithms and restrictions on when, where, what you can change on your website. In one word – flexibility.||Initially more expensive (while building it) and only if you are not going to make it yourself.|
|You own everything – you don’t risk your account being deleted or blocked by any platform.||You will need a designer/developer (if you can’t create it yourself).|
|When optimized well, the site generates revenue without paid ads.||It will take some time before the optimization(SEO) of the site starts to bring in clients.|
|The biggest site investments are made at the beginning. Afterward, you pay small annual amounts for domain and hosting.||Paid ads may be needed for more customers.|
|Suitable for generating an email list of potential customers for future email marketing through various lead magnets and subscription forms.|
|A brand with its own style is easier to build and grow|
|You can maintain a blog with useful articles that attract more potential customers and build trust in your business.|
It is appropriate to create a website when you already have a validated idea and are confident your business will be profitable. Otherwise, there’s no point putting a lot of resources into building a site if you won’t be able to break even on your investment.
An option is to initially rely on a simpler website until the sales start to increase. You can even do it yourself. Once again, I will remind you of my book “Create a Website and Profit“. I wrote it for these exact cases – for start-up businesses that want or need to manage on their own in the beginning, so give it a look.
In the long run, the website is the best option. With the proper optimization, you can ensure a continuous flow of potential customers. But if you are only going to offer a few products and no blog you better go with a sales funnel.
11.2.2 Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is the process of attracting and converting leads into paying customers. Or in online terms, it is a sequence of landing pages that follow a buying process. For example, a customer may come across the first one through a paid advertisement, Instagram post, or via email. And most importantly, the page doesn’t have to be linked to a website. It can also exist on its own.
For example, if you are a sales representative of a single brand with one or two types of air purifiers. You don’t need to make a whole website with all its pages – Home, About Us, Contact, Blog, Certificates, Products, and so on. All you need to do is describe all these elements on one page and order the content logically according to your potential client’s thought process. You can use platforms like Clickfunnel, Leadpages, Convertbuilder or SamCart.
Put a call-to-action for purchase in several places on the page. If a customer clicks there, the next page loads, and it may have additional items on it. This depends on you and the product you are offering.
To continue the example with the purifier, at the next step, when the potential customer clicks “Buy”, there may be:
- Order details
- Nonobligatory accessories (for an extra charge, of course) – filters, carrying bag, battery, etc.
- An option to increase the quantity for a large discount (if the customer is, for example, a large office building)
In the image above, you can see the most simple variation of a sales funnel. There are different options to build it. Below you can see an example of a slightly complicated version:
For services, the steps may be even more. Think about what additionally you can offer to complement the thing your customer has already chosen. However, I must warn you to be careful not to overdo it. It is extremely annoying when you have to say “No, I don’t want to” 5-6 times on different pages. Suggest extra things, but don’t go overboard.
Again I give an example. When you go to McDonald’s after they take your order, you are asked, “Do you want to add a drink or fries?”- that’s the additional offering. And that is alright. But if they asked you one question at a time and wait for an answer after each::
- Do you want a drink?
- Do you want fries?
- Do you want dessert?
- How about making them two sandwiches instead of one, with the second sandwich being at half price?
- Shall we make the drink larger?
It would be extremely frustrating, hence be mindful of how many offers you put in. Often, the practice is to collect the order and payment details and then offer everything else, so the customer can’t decline the initial order. However, this creates a bad impression. Try to aim for the sweet spot- offer something extra and don’t make the customer angry. If you have different ideas on what to offer – test them separately and find the one that works best for that given time. If the results start to decrease at some point, change the offer.
Remember: The client should have a positive emotion after any type of communication with you – through your website, chat, phone call, or email. Our goal is not to make a quick sale for as much money as possible. It is to keep the customer wanting to buy from us, over and over again. Of course, the other is a business model too, but by no means a long-term one.
|No need to create an entire website – lower initial costs.||You are limited by the capabilities of the platforms.|
|You can handle it yourself using platforms like Clickfunnel, Leadpages, Convertbuilder or SamCart.||It doesn’t create enough long-term trust as people are used to searching Google for companies, products, and reviews.|
|Usually, these types of pages generate more orders as the customer is not “distracted” by anything else.||The landing page will receive traffic as long as you are actively sending it through paid ads or email marketing. Rarely do such pages come up in Google, and only if the competition for your keywords is extremely low.|
|It is not suitable for generating an email list of leads for future email marketing as the goal is to sell.|
|There is a monthly fee to the platform you used to build the sales funnel.|
Sales funnels are suitable when you want to promote a specific product/service/offer. However, if you offer a lot of things, they are not the best option. Can you imagine doing separate sales funnels for a store with 50-100-20000 items? Not a good fit.
11.2.3 Facebook Page/Google Marketplace, Other Social Media
We have already talked about starting through a Facebook page. And you can decide to stay that way. When your business progresses, you should evaluate whether the volume of products/services requires switching to one of the other options. Or you may determine this suits you and you don’t want to expand any further. But just in case, take a look at the table below.
|It is easy and free to create it yourself.||You don’t control anything and have no guarantee that tomorrow Facebook (or another social platform you may use) won’t decide to block your account or delete the page.|
|Easy to manage||There are sales mainly when you run paid ads. At least in the beginning, while you don’t have regular customers yet.|
|You rely on Facebook’s and the other platforms’ algorithm changes. For example, in 2012, an organic post on your Facebook page reached about 16% of followers. Now for some pages that percentage is even less than 1.|
|If someone searches for your product/service on Google, there’s little chance your Facebook page will come up if you have competitors with good websites. On the other hand, if you rely on the Google marketplace, your potential customers won’t find you on Facebook.|
These are all marketplace platforms where different people and businesses can post the goods/services they offer. There are countless such platforms for handmade things, digital products, all sorts of physical goods, freelancing services, photography, you name it. You need to find which is the right for what you offer and if the audience using that particular marketplace is yours.
|You can easily create your own store.||You don’t control anything.|
|You rely on already existing, regular users on each platform – and there is a lot of them.||You depend on the algorithm changes of the platforms.|
|You can run paid ads inside the platform or rely on users to find you organically.||You are highly limited by the design and capabilities of each platform.|
|Not suitable for generating an email list of leads for future email marketing.|
|You are competing against already well-established players with high ratings and great reviews.|
|A monthly fee to the platform.|
These platforms are suitable for freelancers and start-up businesses, but competition is also strong, so you need to research where your niche sits. If the competition is too high, you need to stand out somehow, either with a unique offer or with a much more attractive service/good. I can’t recommend which platform is good to try here, as it depends on the product/service/market.
11.2.5 Combination of Several or All of Them
Of course, it is not said you have to pick one channel and stop there. You can offer your goods/services in many places. It’s possible to combine several of the above, or you can try all of them if they’re suitable. An option when you have an e-shop with 20,000 products is to make a sales funnel for only a few of them – the most lucrative, recommended, newest, on promotion, etc.
Experiment to find which of the options above is right for you. It may be just one, or it may be several. But for starters, begin with one place. Don’t distract yourself. The option you are focused on has the highest chances of succeeding. Concentrate on just one at the beginning and test the others later if you decide you want to.
11.3 Can You Do It Alone
Entirely possible, yes. Now it depends on how much knowledge you have, how up-to-date you are with at least some of the stuff, and most of all how much time and effort you are ready to put in. Because if you are not a professional in these things, it definitely takes time, reading, and testing.
Make it very clear whether:
- You want and/or are forced (due to lack of initial budget) to start on your own and later, when the business takes off, to pay a specialist to help
- You are able to pay a professional to do everything for you right from the start.
- Or the middle option where you do things yourself but rely on a consultant/mentor to guide you and show you the shortcuts so you don’t mess up. This way, it is cheaper, and you save time from constant researching and reading all sorts of materials.
11.4 What to Look Out for When Hiring Someone to Do the Job?
I just want to note a few things here. A lot of people got burned by shady agencies and freelancers. So you should always:
- Ask for a portfolio or any completed projects which you can clearly prove were done by the particular agency, freelancer.
- References and/or reviews from satisfied clients would also help you know that you have found an honest service provider.
- Check for a contract or any terms and conditions on their website that legally binds them to do the job.
- Have a little chat with the person/agency and see if your visions match. Do you like them? This is important, so you can work well together and have a positive outcome. I, for example, have decided for myself not to work with people who are not my type. If communication with someone stresses me out, it’s probably the same for them. In that case, it’s pointless to suffer mutually. And if it’s someone I like, I go the extra mile simply because I feel a strong desire to be helpful to that person/business. This is one of the benefits of working for yourself – to be able to choose your customers 🙂
- Don’t pay everything up front! Many friends and strangers have complained that they have to pay thousands to freelancers upfront and ended up getting not even half of what they were promised. But then again, we can’t expect them to work without an upfront payment either, can we? Because they, on their part, have come across dishonest clients more than a few times and ended up working without getting paid. So we need to find a happy medium where both parties feel safe and secure. That way, the work will flow with trust.
12. Select the Payment Methods and System
Depending on the country you operate in, you can choose whether your customers pay by card or/and cash. I won’t go into detail here because the payment method depends a lot on people’s buying habits. A quick example, in Bulgaria, people prefer to buy by cash on delivery from the local suppliers. In the US and Western Europe, customers prefer to pay online – when purchasing from a website. So think about your target audience – what they like and what payment method they are used to.
In this regard, let’s move on to possible payment systems you can use.
There are many different kinds. I’ve gone with Stripe on my site, as I needed the functionality to automatically charge a card when someone has chosen a subscription plan. It turned out that most systems don’t support this option and at the same time work for Bulgaria.
- be aware of which market you will be selling to, as not every system operates in every country.
- consider what additional features you will need
- research what the fees are and which system/bank is best for you – is there a mandatory monthly fee, what is the cost per transaction. If you will be accepting currency payments, be sure to check the currency conversion fees to both the payment system and your bank. Make sure there are no surprises later.
- do they have good customer service – something can always break, or you may have questions, and it is important to have someone to help you.
Once you have chosen the system, you can always change it later if you find something you don’t like or a better alternative. It’s a good idea to research things in detail from the start, so you don’t have to go through the implementation process twice.
Each system has an API (a sort of connection made between the software and your website), which a developer usually implements on your website, based on the documentation of the specific payment system. With some, it is easier than with others. If you want a card payment module, it is best to have it set up by a professional. That is what I did.
Ready-made platforms like Shopify (for creating an e-shop) or marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and so on have such built-in modules. You only have to choose what type of payments and cards you will accept. And, of course, remember to fill in your company bank account in the settings to receive your earnings.
I’m not going to spend any more time on payment systems here, but soon we will issue a comparison article on the different online payment systems, so stay tuned 🙂
13. Create a Marketing Strategy
You’ve all heard of marketing and advertising, but I want to highlight a few key facts here.
Without some form of marketing, a business cannot grow.
Marketing is even when you tell friends what you offer. Spreading the word that you are selling a product/service, no matter the channel you use is marketing. It doesn’t matter if it’s by word of mouth, a flyer, a billboard, phone calls, paid online campaigns, free social media posts, or anything else.
Guess you would agree that if no one has ever heard of you or seen your advertising, they wouldn’t buy anything from you because they don’t know you exist. So, as someone who is launching a startup, it is your job to spread the word about your business as much as possible. The better you do that, the higher the quality of the product/service you offer, and the more people know you, the easier it will get.
It takes time and effort. Or time and money invested in paid advertising. Or even more, money heavily invested in paid advertising.
If you have the time and you don’t have the means – you put in the time. If you don’t have the time, but you have the means – you pay а marketing specialist. If you have both – choose whether you enjoy this kind of work.
Keep in mind for a startup business, it is best to have the owner directly involved in everything. After all, the style, sound, values of your new brand are yet to be determined. Don’t let someone else decide these things for you. Yes, you may gather a lot of ideas, but you should be the one making the final choice.
You don’t have to be everywhere.
Begin from the channel you feel most comfortable with and have at least some part of potential customers. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities and block your mind. Once the business takes off, test different channels and find those which work best for you. There are already a huge number of platforms in the world. Research your target market and where it is located. Test to see which of these places brings you the most profit (not sales or revenue). Don’t get distracted trying to maintain an online presence everywhere at once just because the big agencies, you see, advertise on 20 different platforms. You don’t need to, and frankly, it is very stressful and expensive. After all, you are just starting.
Don’t expect to instantly profit from marketing campaigns.
Usually, when we put money and time into something, we want to see results right away. However, I will disappoint you here. A few channels can bring you good results right away. These are usually paid campaigns, but even these require a test budget at the beginning to probe what your potential audience likes, responds to, and trusts. So add to your costs an amount for testing ads, and don’t despair if you can’t break even the first few months. Trust me, I know how frustrating and discouraging it is, but in the end, those who succeed are those who are patient and don’t give up.
And these are the channels you can use individually, but often people combine several. I’m not going into detail on every single one as the article will get longer than “The Bold and the Beautiful”.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) – improving your website so when someone searches for a product/service on Google, it shows up in the top positions,
- Paid ads in search engines – like the previous one, but here your ad shows up in the paid results section.
- Display ads – when your banner is displayed on someone else’s website. It is often used in retargeting campaigns. This happens when someone has already visited your site, and you start “stalking” them with advertising on other websites. There’s no way you haven’t seen something on Amazon, for example, and then had it follow you everywhere.
- Social media marketing – could be free posts, could be paid ads.
- Email marketing – once you have the emails of your current and potential customers, you can send them various promotions, information, etc. But don’t overdo it. Respect the privacy and trust your clients have shown towards you by giving you their email addresses.
- Video marketing – again, it can be on different platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Tik-Tok, Instagram, webinars, etc.
- Event marketing – can be online or offline.
- All offline channels – brochures, billboards, phone calls, newspaper ads, TV, radio, various sponsorships, etc.
- Word of mouth ( recommendations) – the oldest and most profitable advertising channel.
Again, I will stress – don’t try to be everywhere. Pick a maximum of three channels and start from there. Over time, you’ll see what works, what doesn’t, and you’ll be able to smoothly build a marketing strategy that is more complete and comprehensive. Then again, you may find that only one channel is the most profitable for you. Just test it. But to avoid the initial stress, concentrate on a maximum of three channels.
As the wise say, “Everything in its time” 🙂
14. Plan Upsells or How to Increase the Average Order Value
We have already briefly mentioned this when we talked about the sales funnels. It is good to plan for some or all products/services to have different upsells and cross-sells(meaning to increase the number of ordered products or add a complementary product). This way, you can raise the average value of each purchase.
Let’s say you have the following two cases. Both times it costs you 2 bucks to bring in a customer. However, in one of them, they buy a good/service for 10 bucks, and in the other, with the right suggestions at the end, their order becomes 50 bucks.
Which would you prefer, 2 for 10 bucks turnover or 2 for 50 bucks turnover?
Any rational person would like the second option. So, don’t underestimate this point and don’t forget it. It is important to lift the profit of your online business. This may also be a solution if your cost per acquisition is higher.
15. Work on Your Brand Reputation
You’ve already started, you have some sales, a marketing strategy at least for the beginning, and maybe even your own website. Now what?
Now you need to constantly work on building your brand reputation. It could be yours or a made-up company name, it doesn’t matter. Your job here is to develop a brand that people will respect, like, trust, and seek out. When someone asks them “Do you know where I can buy X?”, the answer should be “What kind of question is that! Of course from …(your name)” 🙂
Without a good reputation, the long-term business struggles to exist.
Reputation is like trust – it builds slowly, with constant effort, but it breaks quickly. So here’s what you can systematically do:
15.1 Good Customer Service
- Be polite and greet your customers when they message you on the Facebook page or other contact channel.
- Write grammatically correct. It’s downright awful when I write on a page: “Hi, I’d like to ask how many items are included in the bundle?” and the reply is “their 3”.
- Upon purchase, if you can, make a gesture to the person – a small gift, a handwritten note, give something extra the customer doesn’t expect.
- If possible, a few days after the purchase, contact the customer and ask them for a review. But not “leave us a review”, really ask if they got what they have expected, and are they satisfied.
- If there’s a delay with a delivery or service, give prior notice so the person can adjust their plans. You don’t know if the customer hasn’t planned the item for a birthday or it’s not urgent for some other reason.
- Don’t get too pushy with offers of sales, discounts, etc. Everyone is trying to shove something at someone now. Give value first, win the person over. If you do that, even when you make a mistake, they will turn a blind eye because they like you.
- Try to connect with your customers’ values. If they are environmentalists, get involved in similar causes. If they’re having a baby, organize a compelling event for children and parents that isn’t pushing leaflets into the adults’ hands every five minutes.
Think about your customers – what they need, how you can be helpful or entertaining. This is the path to long-term business success and loyal clients.
15.2 Consistency and Perseverance
If you’re creating a brand, don’t change the logo, style, colors, and so on every year. For a person to get used to, know and trust a brand, it has to be stable over time. Little by little, the name and logo will become imprinted in the minds of your customers. With every ad, they see and with every mention. If you change them often, that build-up can’t happen. Look at Coca-Cola. They haven’t switched their name and logo since they were founded. There may be a slight modification in the bottle or a tiny alteration in the font, but the core remains the same.
15.3 Be Different – Win-Win
No, I don’t mean the standard cliché of trying to come up with some mumbo-jumbo to get attention. We live in a world where money comes first, and relationships between people are somehow left behind. Demonstrate this is not the case with you. Give before asking your customers to do the same. Create a relationship with them. Sincerely help them with the product/service you offer (without letting them climb all over your head because that is a very real possibility). Just follow the “Win-win” principle (I win – you win). That way, natural selection will leave you with customers who share your values, and even if you sell an idea more expensively, they will prefer to buy from you because they value you.
16. Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Small Online Business
At the end of this long, but hopefully informative and useful article, we turn to some frequently asked questions I was unable to address in any of the above points. Here they are.
16.1 Which Is the Ideal Type of Online Business to Start if You Are a Beginner?
It depends on your skills and knowledge. If you can create something or offer a service, I would recommend you do that. Everyone is unique and has something to give to the world. And it’s much easier to position yourself in the market and find your audience with something unique. However, if you are not there yet and don’t think you can do anything special, I suggest creating an online store. Aim to choose a topic that excites you, and you already know a lot about it. This way, you will be closer to understanding the needs of your potential customers.
16.2 How to Start a Small Online Business?
To start a business, you need time, persistence, patience, and most importantly – an idea. You don’t need to have substantial capital and invest a lot of money to create a profitable company.
16.3 Which Type of Online Business Is the Most Profitable?
The one that has the potential to grow in the future. If you’re exchanging your time for money, then no matter how high your rate per hour is, there’s still a limit that’s hard to go over. Any business can expand, but it’s a matter of strategy. Even for the services only you can do, you could train other people and become a team. If you’re a designer who only does custom work for clients, consider making some downloadable prints, or organize online courses. That way, you create something once, and it can be bought multiple times. This applies to almost all niches.
16.4 What Can Be Sold Online?
Almost everything! Yes, even health through various programs. Well, if you’re a surgeon, you can’t operate via Skype, but that’s why the answer is almost everything 🙂
16.5 Can You Start a Business Without an Initial Budget?
Of course! One Facebook page (it’s free), a little more dedication on your part to post on the groups what you offer, and you are done. No money is required. But you have to be willing to put in the time and effort, commit 100% to the cause, and of course, don’t give up if you see no results at first. With dedication and persistence to success 😉
16.6 Do You Need a Marketer to Start Your Online Business?
I’m going to sabotage myself a bit, but I will be honest. No, you don’t 🙂 You can start on your own too. BUT it will take a lot of your time wandering, reading, and testing. So I would recommend you:
- Take an online course (it can even be a free one but be sure it is full and up-to-date), so you know at least a little bit about what you are doing. However, don’t go buying 9719281 courses and overwhelm yourself with information. This leads to mind blockage. Choose one and follow the strategies listed there. Marketing is not an exact science. So everyone will recommend something different, which is extremely confusing at first.
- Have someone you like to mentor you and give you advice – you will save yourself a lot of time, and it won’t be expensive. It’s great to have someone to ask directly about a specific problem and receive an on-point answer.
- If you have the funds now or at a later stage, work with a marketer. It will help you immensely. After all, everyone is a professional in their field and has accumulated knowledge and experience.
16.7 Do You Need a Business Plan for Your Online Business?
To get started, all you need to do is follow the steps in this article. There is no need to sit down and write out coursework as you used to at university. The important thing is to be clear about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. I’ve prepared a worksheet for you to download and use, so you don’t miss any steps. You don’t need anything else at the beginning.
16.8 Which Is the Easiest Online Business to Start from Home?
Not everything is easy when you own a business. For some, the simple part will be finding the idea, since they already have some skills that can be packaged as a good or service. For others, it may be accounting or marketing. Truthfully, if you want to launch a successful business, you have to understand and do a lot of things on your own at first, until the time comes to delegate the responsibilities to your staff.
If the question is which business will bring you profit the fastest – it depends on how you execute all the mentioned points and what is your niche. When you sell ready-made products/services, you can speed up the process. But if you are going to develop software, it will take a lot of time. However, “easy” and “successful” rarely go hand in hand.
Just don’t think of it as difficulty, but like in computer games – leveling up. With each level, you get better and more successful. Don’t stress about the final one and the things you do not know yet. You are at a different place in the game right now, so focus on the current tasks 🙂
Well, this article came out looking like a short book. But I hope I’ve answered most of the questions and clarified what steps you should take and where to focus your initial efforts. I did my best to look at things from the perspective of a first-time entrepreneur and show you how to start and grow your business over time.
The main points to follow are:
- Set yourself up mentally and emotionally on what to expect when starting an online business, so you don’t give up at the first difficulty. Know what problems you may face and don’t lose sight even for a moment of the reasons motivating you to go through this adventure called “owning your own business”
- Find the right idea for your online business
- Discover which business model best suits your work idea
- What budget do you have, and where you can find the initial investment
- Who are your potential clients (buyer persona)
- Validate your idea
- Who are your competitors, and what can you do better than them
- Think about the legal requirements
- Find a supplier / Create a product
- Set up your prices – be careful not to skip out on any expense and end up losing money.
- Create a website, a sales funnel, or a place to showcase the goods/services your online business offers
- Select the payment methods and system
- Create a marketing strategy
- Plan upsells or how to increase the average order value
- Work on your brand reputation
I wish you to create a successful online business that brings you satisfaction!
P.S. If you liked the article and you have friends and acquaintances who are currently in the “I want to start my own business” phase, I would be grateful if you share it with them. And if you think I’ve missed something, drop me a line in the comments. I’ll be happy to update it 🙂