How To Start a Business Online: 6 Easy Steps

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Considering the global impact the internet has had on e-commerce in the last few decades, it is interesting to see how far the entrepreneurship field has grown alongside it. Small business owners can now bring their online business idea to life quickly and without much overhead. Whether you are starting a business online as a side hustle or as a full-fledged career, it is good to know what kind of business model you plan on having and how you can start today.

How To Start a Business Online

There are many forms of e-commerce business so you will want to hone in on what you are aiming to build. It could be anything from selling physical or digital products in an online store, offering online courses or some other product or service. Here is how you can get started:

  1. Form a business plan.
  2. Name your brand.
  3. Outline your business structure.
  4. Build your website.
  5. Develop your marketing strategy.
  6. Launch your online business.

1. Form a Business Plan 

To start your business you first need to truly understand what you want your business to be. This may sound obvious, but it is one thing to have an idea, and another to execute that idea. When deciding what type of business to create, there are several things to consider and questions to ask yourself.

  • What is the driving force to start this business?
  • What will be the core values of your business?
  • Does your business solve a problem enough potential customers will have?
  • What is the ideal customer experience with your product or service?
  • What is your brand strategy?
  • How will you market your product?
  • What will your social media marketing and presence look like?
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Writing down your answers to these questions will help you begin to outline your business plan and you can proceed from there. 

2. Name Your Brand 

Naming your brand is more than just your business name, it also encompasses how you will be perceived by the public and, for lack of a better term, your vibe. When choosing the name of your business and brand, keep in mind that you want people to remember it and be able to find you when entering it into search engines. 

Before fully committing to a name you should see if it is available in the following areas:

  • As a website domain
  • As a social media handle
  • As a unique business name in your state

3. Outline Your Business Structure 

Some of the less fun areas of owning your own business are when it comes to legal matters and taxes. To prevent problems before you have them, or to be better prepared when issues should arise, make sure you have a solid business structure as a foundation. Here are some examples of business structures you could choose:

  • Limited liability company (LLC): LLCs are one of the most popular small business structures and they offer limited liability.  
  • Sole proprietorship: This would make you the sole owner and typically operator, which is simple in design but can get more complicated if your company grows, as there is no limited liability.
  • Partnership: If you are starting your business with a partner, make sure to have clear breakdowns of responsibilities and revenue distribution. This business structure also has no limited liability. 
  • Corporation: Depending on your goals for company growth or output, setting up as a corporation may work for you as it does have limited liability. However, this business structure is more complicated to set up and maintain. 
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Make sure to register your business with the appropriate government authorities and obtain the required permits and licenses. Meeting all federal and state tax requirements and getting your  federal tax ID numbers when you begin your business will save you headaches or possible legal issues down the road. 

4. Build Your Website 

Your website will be your home base for most of your activities. It is what customers will click on to find your products and services as well as what they will use to shop and pay for the goods you sell. If you are not a tech-minded person it will be a worthwhile investment to enlist the help of a website designer and developer. Important considerations when building a website:

  • Choosing a payment processor.
  • Choosing a web host with appropriate browsing speed.
  • Ask friends or people in related fields what they use to get feedback.
  • Choose sources of supply and inventory that link well with your website.

5. Develop Your Marketing Strategy 

Selling your brand is the first step to selling your product. Work on a pre-launch marketing plan to get your target audience excited about your arrival. Social media marketing plays a huge role in this so make sure you start an account with such platforms as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. This also has a potential side benefit of starting an affiliate program with other brands so you can cross-pollinate your promotions. 

6. Launch Your Online Business

This step always sounds too simple when you factor in the work you put in to get here, but once you have laid the groundwork, all there is left to do is pull the trigger. Announce yourself via social media and online or print advertisements. Make sure you are easy to reach through your website, social accounts or email, and be proactive in reaching out by creating an email list of customers or potential customers. 

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Final Take: Starting a Business Online

Anyone can start a business online, but laying the foundation with a solid business plan and structure before you launch will help you to focus on marketing your business and enhancing your customer experience and base after you launch. The more work you put in ahead of time can make it easier to navigate all the ups and downs of being a new business owner. 

FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about starting an online business.
  • Which online business is best for beginners?
    • The best online businesses for beginners would typically be ones you can start from home to keep overhead costs and initial investment low. Popular examples of easier online businesses include:
      • -Dropshipping
      • -Teach online courses
      • -Become a virtual assistant
      • -Affiliate marketing
      • -Flipping products
      • -Selling your handmade products such as art, photography or carpentry
  • How do you start an online business for free?
    • Starting your own online business can be tricky, but it doesn't mean it has to be expensive. Here are some steps you can take to start your own online business for little or no cost:
      • -Vet your free business idea.
      • -Create a business plan.
      • -Network within related communities.
      • -Launch your website and social media accounts.
      • -Crowdsource for funding.
  • Can anyone start a business online?
    • Yes, anyone can start a business online, though this doesn't mean everyone who does is immediately successful. It is important to stay on brand and practice excellent customer service. To start a business online today you can follow these steps:
      • -Form a business plan.
      • -Name your brand.
      • -Outline your business structure.
      • -Build your website.
      • -Develop your marketing strategy.
      • -Launch your online business.

BEFORE YOU GO

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