There are thousands and thousands of free guides available online on how to start an online business.
However, the most valuable lesson they probably never discuss is that starting a new business online is probably going to fail. Successful professionals that excel at some point with a venture never gave up, had a passion about creating a meaningful service or product idea, and never stopped trying.
Starting a business is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion to work on something you never get tired of. If people like coming to you for advise or to help them with work-related tasks, then you have the necessary skills and experience to start a business.
In addition, if you have a curiosity on how services and products, maybe you have the capacity and capabilities to create something more innovative.
In the next section, we will examine comprehensively a thorough approach about what are the core elements to start a business. It will not necessarily catapult you to create Google, Facebook or Apple, yet guide you to create a successful business.
1. Remember the likelihood of your business failing are high
Building a product or service is a process that takes a lot of time, so do not think that successful CEOs did it with a snap of their fingers.
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), only 30 percent of businesses will fail in the first two years and 50 percent will probably stay open in the first five years. It is something to think about when launching your online business.
However, this does not mean you should be discouraged, and it’s actually a valuable lesson to fail since it will give you clues on what to do right the next time.
2. Focus on your audience and targeted niche market
One of the most difficult things to figure is who your customer is and how to tailor your product or service. Depending on your available resources and the size of your network, the scale of your venture will be contingent on this.
If you are launching a business, will you go the retail route or create an online store? Will your service satisfy the needs of a startup, small business, enterprise or a corporation? There is no right or wrong answer.
Think about your audience and what the size of your customer base will be. Without knowing your customers, you cannot start a business.
3. Conduct a lot of research and examine the segment of your potential market
Depending on the sort of business, you will have to do hours of research and ask a lot of questions. It helps a lot to look at specific companies or businesses to get an idea on how they go started.
This may be a daunting task for some and there are other avenues to explore to assist you with building a business. The web has tons of resources and you can check out Fundera’s list of 50 tools to help grow your business.
In addition, you must tap into a reliable business networking list of people to guide your journey to creating an online business.
4. Tap into the reach of social media and expand your message
Gone are the days of paying expensive advertising budgets. Thanks to social channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, businesses can advertise for free. On the other hand, you can spend and create marketing campaigns on those different platforms.
Figure out which one is best suited to your needs and where that audience is active. When your online business has figured out where its message has the most impact and at the same time customers are responding to your message, then you know you are in the right place.
5. Network with influencers and brand your company on an optimized blog
Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, you may need to consider networking in the initial phases.
Social media is a valuable tool and you can reach out to brand influencers depending on the line of products or services you wish to promote.
Gone are the days of just putting an advertisement campaign and expecting a big return. Instead you will have to create partnerships and blog about your branded efforts.
Make sure you have an optimized blog with search engine optimization (SEO) tools built-in, so you can focus on attracting customers and followers.
6. Create monetization plan tailored to your products and services
Whether you are a startup, small business, enterprise or a large company, you have to be strategic with your company efforts. Do you have an omni-channel strategy in place to attract clients and potential business?
In other words, you must have the integrations with your site and selected social media channels to generate revenue from products or services.
Believe it or not, not having a clear investment plan on how you will generate business is one factor often overlook. The technology is there and depending on your institutional resources, you will have to look at a couple of vendors to see which one gets you the best value for your company.
7. Monitor your progress and schedule meetings on a weekly basis
When your business is live online, you need to monitor progress. You must look at your data, key performance indicators (KPI)s and financials to see how your company is progressing over time.
This is a very different mindset when you are in a large company, but an average-sized online business has to do housekeeping procedures.
The products or services advertised online are just one part of the equation. Are you attracting customers? Are interactions with clients translating to transactions or conversion? These questions can only be answered by looking at your data and financial statements. When you can compare both, you will have an excellent understanding on the current state of affairs.
8. Once you have refined your online product or service, officially launch your business
Once you have more or less found the online product or service to serve customers, you are ready for prime time.
As long as your monetization plan lines up carefully with your your investment, you can go live with your business. This can be the form of an official announcement via your site, hosting a live event, or reaching out to media outlets to plug your company launch.
There is no right or wrong way to go about his process, yet make sure the state of the company propels you to launch the online service or product.
9. Once business is growing, retain customers and attract new ones
Having customers at the beginning is crucial for an online business. In fact, it is important for any business period.
The customers who have decided to adopt or buy your service, make sure you are delivering above and beyond customer service. They will not only continue to buy services, but they will likely recommend your service to others. So go the extra mile to thank them for their business.
If possible, develop perks programs and giveaways since customers enjoy the red carpet and celebrity treatment.
10. Use social media networks ethically and steer away from shady business practices
It is tempting to use several social media platforms and buy fake followers. The problem is if the business is a lot bigger than it seems, it will come back to hunt you. There is nothing more embarrassing or outright unprofessional to have thousands of followers who never interact with posts you share.
Unfortunately, social media has lost credibility when it comes to building fake followers and fake news. So, do not fall in the trap of trying to grow your brand artificially. Aim for organic followers. Meaning, to have real customers following you and engaging their brand in authentic ways.
11. Continue to track results of the business
Meetings are essential to tracking the state of affairs and the state of your staff. These meetings should also include tracking the performance as a result of your online business (product or service).
Are the results positive? Are they negative? Are they producing productive results? Analytics is vital to understanding how the business is performing, so make sure you are able to get a snapshot of where you are at.
Successful businesses cover their tracks and that includes look at the bottom line performance of their product or service.
12. Utilize search engines to attract targeted customers to your site
There are advertising systems and price tiers for the different social networks, but search engines like Google and Bing are still important.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is offered in tiers through the Google search engine and Microsoft’s search engine Bing. This remains one of the simplest and most effective way to generate traffic to a brand new site.
As reported by Entrepreneur, the PPC offers two advantages:
One advantage is that PPC ads show up on the search pages right away, while the other is it allows you as a business to test different keywords including headlines, prices and selling approaches.
13. Provide expert advice and testimony through different mediums
It can be challenging to get brand visibility when you are a brand business. However, if you have some significant knowledge and expertise on your company product or service, offer insight.
It means you can publish a blog post with powerful visuals, an infographic, a webinar, a YouTube video, etc. The idea is to plug your service, but make it an interesting testimony that tells a story. It is not enough to tell the story of your product, but connect with to popular culture if possible.
Be creative and take risks because that may be the different between success and failure if you do not try.
14. An online business cannot succeed without effective email marketing strategies
When you are compiling customer data, one of the most valuable pieces of information is a phone number and particularly an email address.
With an email, you can build an opt-in list. This list allows you to create newsletters or announcements to be sent to their inbox for exclusive offers.
You can setup a provider or a third party to analyze customer interactions with your email offers. What it will provide your business is cost opportunity and it is cheaper than print, TV or radio.
After you have found your calling in building a product or service, put the building stones to creating your service and product. It needs to solve a problem that no other business offers. If you are about solving problems, an online business is the right venture for you.
Launching an online business is a complicated undertaking, so do not expect instant results. Building a successful online business takes time, investing money and developing a service that makes a profit.
Finally, make sure you have the available resources and a reliable team that will accompany you throughout your journey. They need to be loyal and have to bring something unique to your big idea.
Take risks and fail early because these experiences are the foundations to launching a successful company.