How To Start An Online Business In 7 Steps
Want to learn how to start an online business from home?
“If you are born poor, it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor, it’s your mistake” Bill Gates.
Very true, right?
No one wants to live poor, but the problem is that most people are not willing to dream big and take on risky and challenging opportunities, such as learning how to start an online business.
Yes, building an online business takes time and effort. Nevertheless, the good news is that the returns of starting an online business are worth all the handwork, perseverance, learning and sleepless nights.
For example, these wealthiest internet billionaires will tell you that they did not succeed in their online businesses because they are too good than everyone else, but consistency and making the right decisions on how to start an online business built them the riches.
The good thing about online businesses is that anyone can start them because the internet has a wide range of opportunities for everyone-young or old, rich or poor among others.
Therefore, why not learn how to start an online business today? Begin writing your story to billions today by using the 7 steps discussed in this post to start an online business today.
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What is an Online Business?
The Internet powers online businesses, which are all activities that take place on the Internet, such as buying goods on the web, selling products online or providing services to customers.
The development of modern technology has enabled entrepreneurs to embrace digital businesses because they offer flexibility and have low overhead costs.
Today according to internet live stats there are over 1.9 billion websites and 4 billion users on the internet in the whole world.
Those statistics show that the internet is an opportunity every business and all vigilant and zealous entrepreneurs learn how to start an online business to begin their journey to financial freedom.
See 10 case studies of internet billionaires who took these golden opportunities offered by the internet, and learn from them some golden lessons on starting online businesses.
Therefore, starting an online business is one of those unique and the best decisions you can ever make in your life because anyone can become wealthy on the internet with unlimited opportunities and global customer base.
Have you ever wondered what happens on the internet in one minute?
Recommended reading: 40 types of online businesses you can start today
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting an Online Business
Just like there are two sides to every coin, online businesses have a brighter and a darker side.
Most people assume that online businesses are either a pack of risks or a bundle of success and many profits.
However, staying on the two extremes is risky because a wise online entrepreneur would be safer if they choose to balance the pros and cons in their business model.
Understanding the advantages of online businesses will help you to make them strengths and opportunities while knowing the disadvantages will help you to place control and preventive measures on obstacles that are likely to ruin your online business.
How to Start An Online Business in 7 Steps
Step one: Find a need
A need can be a gap in the market, a problem that needs a solution or an opportunity that will be relevant in the future.
There over 2 billion entrepreneurs on the internet and some of these have created online business models that meet specific needs fully.
For this reason, you cannot assume that you will grow your online business into an empire by assuming that need A, B and C among others exist.
This brings to the point that you must use the 5 strategies below to identify viable needs in the process of learning how to start an online business
a) Market Research
Market research is the process of identifying common problems, questions, and topics of discussions that raise interest in a given online business topic.
Before you start an online business, there are many tools, platforms, and resources both free and paid you can use to carry out market research.
Firstly, you can use forums and niche communities, such as Quora and Reddit. Questions or contributions with a high number of comments, upvotes and replies imply that there is a gap in the topic, which you can fill.
Secondly, use social media search, such as Facebook groups, Twitter search and Pinterest viral pins among others. A question, post or tweet that receives high engagement (retweets, shares, comments, and likes) show that a gap and a ready audience is willing to participate in discussion related to that topic.
Finally, use data collection tools, such as Typeform to create surveys, polls and other campaigns where you can ask people questions directly and receive their feedback on a given topic.
Follow the link below to get a detailed explanation with pictures and how-to guide to using the above market research strategies.
Recommended reading: 10 Free Market Research Tools You Need Now
Competitors are online entrepreneurs who have already created businesses in your target market and serving your target audience.
Competitor analysis is essential before you start an online business since these audiences have already interacted with your competitor’s products, you can find a need/gap from their feedback in the following ways.
Firstly, visit customer review sites, such as GoogleMyBusiness and TrustPilot. Look for reviews with complaints, recommendations and any conditional responses like this “I loved your product, but…”, “if you would do this….” Those gaps, dissatisfaction, and complaints are the gaps you can use to start an online business that solves them and better than that of your competitor.
Secondly, visit social media profiles and business pages of those competitors and monitor the discussions raised by their audience. Look for recommendations and questions with high engagement to find a need.
Thirdly, use several competitors analysis tools, such as SemRush, Alexa, Ahrefs, Social Mention and Buzzsumo to carry out comprehensive SWOT analysis in their SEO, social media and content marketing strategies. All this is to find areas they are underperforming in because these signify a gap/need in the market you can fill by starting a better online business.
Finally, visit your competitor’s website, especially blog posts comment section to find questions and recommendations left by their customers.
Recommended reading: How to do competitor analysis for your online business.
c) Personal Frustrations & Future predictions
Are there products you used or services you received and did not like them?
Then this is a gap or needs in the market, which you can fill by improving or creating a better product or offering unique services in your online business
Additionally, the internet platform is always changing due to advancement in technology and changes in consumer’s tastes.
For this reason, you can start an online business by predicting market trends and create a business idea which will be relevant in the future.
d) Keyword Research
Keywords are the search words, phrases, and sentences that people put in search engines to find information.
For example, if you want to find information on weight loss you are likely to use the following search phrases, “weight loss pills,” “weight loss tips for pregnant women” and “weight loss for men” among others.
In online businesses, some keywords have high search volume and competition than others.
Therefore, a market or topic with many keywords with enough search volume and low competition is what you are looking for as a need in the market before you start an online business.
Recommended reading: How to research keywords that will get you on page 1 of Google and Why Keyword research is Important.
Step two: Create a Business Idea that Will Fill the Need
In step one above, you identified a need in the market before you start an online business.
For example, through market research and competitor analysis you might have found out there is little access to workout guides for pregnant women.
Also, you might have discovered that most content provided in shallow and lacks some in-depth research on the topics of pregnant women and weight loss, workout and eating healthy.
After you clearly understand the need/gap/problem, then use these 5 strategies to create your business idea before moving to the next step.
a) Identify a solution
A solution is the business idea you intend to build your online business to solve the gap/need/problem identified during market research.
Remember that businesses are created to solve problems in the market, and so you must have a viable solution before you start an online business.
See the example below;
|Need: Lack of detailed workout guides for pregnant women|
|Solution: Create detailed guides, courses, e-books and videos for pregnant women. Also, build a fitness center and website for pregnant women only.|
b) Identify your business model
There are many types of online businesses you start an online business on actualizing the solution above.
For example, you can create a blog, YouTube channel, Podcast, e-commerce store selling workout equipment for pregnant women or even start a coaching/consulting business.
There are over 100+ business models and types online, yes, you can use a combination of two to five, but more than that is disastrous and straining.
Therefore, you must identify the business model you are going to solve the problem through at the initial stages.
Recommended reading: 40 Online Business Ideas That will make you a billionaire quickly
c) Pick a Niche
A niche is the specific target market directly related to the need, solution and type of business above.
There are over 1000+ niches on the internet with the different target audience, needs, and models of success.
Thus, getting specific on one niche market before you start an online business will help you to scale down your marketing efforts to resources, tools, and strategies that work in that niche.
This also simplifies the process of market research and growing your business because it helps you to focus on the needs of a specific market as opposed to being a “jack of traits, and a master of none.”
Recommended reading: 3 quick hacks to finding a niche now.
d) Clearly define your buyer persona
What are the demographics, profiles, and needs of the audience you are targeting? What do they consider before making buying decisions? What is the biggest problem they need a solution to right now?
In summary, defining your buyer persona is the process of understanding the traits, preferences, and needs of the internet audience you are targeting before you start an online business
For example, from the of the pregnant women scenario above you need to clearly define which age bracket, social, economic status, region, experience and knowledge level you are targeting.
Recommended reading: How to create accurate buyer personas
e) Define your unique selling proposition(USP)
The truth is that you are not the first to come up with that online business idea and you will not be the last.
The good news is that no business is perfect, and their weaknesses will be your weapon of success by creating better online business ideas which solve those problems.
Therefore, defining your USP before you start an online business will help you to understand how your business will succeed in market others have failed.
Recommended reading: How to create accurate Unique Selling Propositions
Step Three: Create a website for your online business
Why does your online business need a website?
- Other online businesses and your competitors have websites, so you need one also before you start your online business.
- You are in control unlike in other platforms where rules change, such as social media networks.
- Creating one even with zero coding expertise is easy. Thus, you do not have any excuse for not having one before you start an online business.
- 81% of customers search online before making a purchase; a website will make your business products and services accessible to those customers on the internet.
- A website gives your online business credibility
- You can sell products directly from your website which will accelerate your financial returns in your online business.
- You will use it as a tool for communication and information, which will build brand awareness and engagement.
- A website is always accessible 24/7 which makes it convenient.
- A website will give you broad audience access both local and global.
- A website Provides a medium for you to showcase your products, skills, expertise, and services as you start your online business.
- It improves customer service and saves time because it is accessible anytime from anywhere in the world.
Four things you need before you build a website for your online business
- Domain Name: This will be the name of your company that people will enter on search engines to find you, such as sproutmentor.com, Amazon.info, Canada.edu among others.
- Web hosting: This is a hosting company and package that will provide you with servers and other storage resources where your website will store data that can get retrieved every time customers request a resource from your site. For example, shared hosting provided by BlueHost or cloud hosting from SiteGround.
- Website platform: This is the environment where you shall build and manage your website’s themes, plugins, pages, codes and content among other resources. You can use a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, a website builder, such as Wix or code from scratch.
- Know the type of website you want to create: There are many types of sites with different designs, themes, and Therefore, you must choose the kind that suits your buyer personal, USP, niche, and business model best.
Recommended reading: Three things you need before creating a website.
How to create a website for your online business
- Firstly, choose and register a domain name
- Secondly, buy hosting plan and package
- Thirdly, select and install your website building platform
- Finally, perform initial recommended and mandatory settings for a new website
To get detailed notes and step by step guides on the four steps above use the two posts below.
Step Four: Perform search engine optimization (SEO)
What is SEO and why is it essential to your online business?
How to perform SEO for your online business?
SEO is divided into two main categories: On page and off page.
On page SEO
Can be likened to performing general cleaning on the interior of a house as you start an online business.
Therefore, there are all those internal activities you carry out on a website to make it user-friendly and easily found by search engines.
For example, writing good content, having fast page load, coherent site architecture, friendly URLs, correct use of HTML tags, optimizing images and submitting the property to search engines among others.
Follow the link below to find a detailed article on this category of SEO.
Recommended reading: 10 on page SEO factors for 2018
Off page SEO
This is opposite of on page SEO and is equal to cleaning the outside compound and neighboring surroundings of a house as you start an online business.
These are all external factors that search engine look to determine if a website is good enough to rank or not. For example, search engines look at backlinks, social factors, and trust.
Recommended reading: 4 of the best off page SEO factors for 2018
Step Five: Monetize your online business
Do you want to start an online business to make money online?
The only way to make money online is through monetizing your website and other online business platforms, such as YouTube channel with the right strategies.
There are many monetization strategies you can use, such as affiliate marketing, advertising, offering services and selling digital products among others.
Follow the reading below to get a comprehensive guide that will teach you how to start an online business, which will grow into a multi-billion empire by monetizing it the right way.
Recommended reading: How to monetize your online business like a billionaire
Step Six: Promote your online business
You may create the best website design on the internet or come up with the best unique products and online business ideas, but if your ideal customers do not know about them all that is in vain.
For this reason, promoting your online business is the process of communicating with your target audience with the aim of building brand awareness, driving traffic, increasing engagement and influencing their buying behaviors.
As you start an online business, you can use free means to promote it, such as social media marketing or paid methods, such as advertisements.
You can only make money from your online business when you have customers. Those buyers will only purchase from you when they know the USP of your business.
Therefore, use the right business promotion methods to get your business model and solution out there to as many audiences as possible on the internet.
Recommended reading: The ultimate guide to promoting an online business.
Step Seven: Build and Grow your business using the following tips
- Use the right tools: Make the process of starting an online business simple and less time-consuming with the right tools. The ultimate list of 100+ tools, resources, and apps for online entrepreneurs has a comprehensive list of all the tools you need.
- Track and measure progress: There are several tools you can use to measure the performance of your business, such as Google analytics data, social media audience reports, and SEMRush among others. This will help you to identify weaknesses early and equally improve on the strengths for better results.
- Engage with your audiences on social media and directly from your website. Respond to their comments, emails and answer their questions to build brand loyalty and reliance.
- Look for new opportunities for expansion or even transition. Do not be afraid to expand or change to new better directions along the way because the goal is creating the best online business ideas.
- Build a brand through having a logo, favicon, on brand colors, typography, clear target audience and remaining consistent with your message and purpose. Most customers love to be associated with brand identities.
- Monitor your competitors to learn from them and also create new opportunities from their failures. Using your competitors as your case studies will reduce your learning curve and accelerate your curve to success.
- Provide exceptional content and value to keep your sales and customer base consistent. Customers will walk away when your value diminishes or when you become dull and redundant. Thus, you must always be creative and innovative enough to keep them engaged with new content all the time.
- Build a sales funnel to have a clear picture of your target audience buying process. This will help you to identify obstacles along the way in your sales funnel and eliminate them before losses occur.