Do you know that there are over 4 billion Internet users worldwide? Think about what that means. You could start a local brick-and-mortar business… Or you could tap into the massive pool of potential customers that hang out online!
Moreover, an online business is usually easier to launch than a brick-and-mortar one, because you don’t need to store the products or rent a store space.
So what do you need to do in order to start your own online business?
Decide on a business model
Okay, so first, you need to decide what kind of business do you want to start:
- You can open a Shopify store, drive traffic to it with Facebook and Instagram ads, and sell your products without holding any inventory yourself (the manufacturer will ship the product to the customer once the sale is made).
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).. You can create your own web application that you then sell using a monthly subscription model.
- Info products. You can build up a personal brand in a particular niche, then create a product that is relevant to your followers, and sell it to them.
All three business models are legitimate ways to make money only. Think about your skills and talents. What are you good at? Then pick a model that best suits you personally.
Pick a niche
Don’t try to sell generic products. You will be much better off picking a niche. Ideally, your niche should be…
- You should be at least somewhat passionate about your niche. Otherwise, chances are that you will be bored out of your mind, and quit before you even have a chance of success.
- There should be legitimate demand for whatever it is that you are trying to sell. Are there other companies in your niche that are doing well? If there aren’t any, there’s probably no demand, and you should move on.
Once again, don’t try to sell generic products, pick a niche, the more specific it is, the better.
Set up a business website
If you decided to go with dropshipping, this part is going to be easy, because all you need to do is open a Shopify store and then tweak it to your liking.
If you decided to go with SaaS or info products, then you’ll need to set up your website from scratch:
- Get a reliable hosting provider. This is important because you don’t want your website to crash all the time.
- I recommend you to use WordPress to set up a blog. Make sure that you add a contact form so that current and potential customers could reach out to you (use this WordPress form plugin).
- You will need a lot of professional images for your website and your blog. I suggest you to use free stock photo websites (Unsplash, Pexels, etc.) for the images and Crello — Free Graphic Design Software. Simple Online Photo Editor for the editing.
- Don’t forget to provide a way for your customers to pay you! You can use payment processors like Stripe, Gumroad, etc. Or you can use the solution like this – WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plugin | Tips and Tricks HQ. And if you deal with contracts, I recommend you to use the Best Contract Management app called Apptivo.
- Knowledge base. It’s best to streamline your customer support from the beginning so that you wouldn’t be overwhelmed with requests once your business takes off. I suggest you to use HelpJet to do that.
However, keep in mind that website maintenance, while important, should not be your top priority. In case you feel overwhelmed by it, you can always outsource it to WPBuffs (WordPress Maintenance Plans for Website Owners & Agency Partners).
Set up an email list and push notifications
Having a website is not enough. You need to be able to capture those visitors and convert them to subscribers so that you could reach out to them later. I suggest using Seva for email list and Web Push Notifications – MaxTraffic for push notifications. Don’t skip this step!
Drive traffic to your website
People don’t know about your business yet. It’s up to you to change that. You can drive traffic to your website in these three ways:
- Is your content optimized for search engines? You might be missing out on organic traffic!
- Content marketing. Building a blog and becoming an expert in your niche can be a great way to get on the radar of your potential customers.
- Paid advertising. Paid traffic is the most reliable form of traffic once you learn how to run effective campaigns. So give Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and Google AdSense a try!
I suggest you to experiment with all three methods in order to see what works best for your business.
Learn from your experience
Constantly analyze what works, what doesn’t, and why. And don’t be afraid to pivot if your current angle isn’t working!
Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst!
The reality is that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first year and a half. The odds are not in your favour. This is why it’s important to have an emergency fund. Also, you should always keep your resume up-to-date (see resume examples here)!
Having your own online business can provide you with the lifestyle that you want. Set your own hours, work from anywhere, make decent money… It can all be yours if you are willing to put in the work.
There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur. There is an entire world of opportunities out there! Will you take advantage of it?