8 Steps to Starting an Online Business

In many ways, the internet has helped many people live their dreams by starting their very own businesses. An online business is relatively easy to start, as you don’t need a huge upfront cost like any other brick-and-mortar one. However, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed overnight success if you start an online business today.

There is a fair amount of work that goes into that. And in this article, we’ll take a look at the most crucial steps in starting an online business. From branding to planning and marketing, we’re here to give you some very useful tips and tricks. So keep reading to find out more.

Step 1: Assess Viability

Assess Viability

Don’t let the simplicity of starting an online business fool you – you still need to spend some money on it. That’s why it’s crucial you take a step back and assess the viability of your idea before making any investments. Just because it sounds good in your mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will make you money.

Keep in mind that even the most brilliant business idea will flop if it has no market. And even if you discover a unique solution to a problem that bothers many people, you’ll just be wasting money if it turns out that not enough people even care about that problem.

That being said, you have to evaluate your big idea. So just ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your product or service provide a solution to a problem that enough potential clients have?
  • Is that solution cost-effective for your clients?
  • Do people care enough about the problem that they’d be willing to spend money to solve it?
  • How much will you have to spend to reach your target audience?

Step 2: The Business Plan

Once you’ve assessed the feasibility of your idea, it’s time to craft a business plan. This step is very important, as it allows you to spot any potential issues down the road which might affect growth and profit.

This is also where you’ll figure out who is or will be the decision makers and evaluate any possible outcome for any business decision you might make. For this, you can use an online decision tree to figure out any possible consequences, resource costs, or chance event outcomes.

During this stage, you can use the work from step one, as it gives you an excellent base for your business plan. It’s important you go into detail here, as a solid business plan will help you better identify your potential clients, make your objectives clearer, and even figure out some steps in the marketing process.

Step 3: Choose a Name

Don’s skip this step and don’t think it’s not as important as the rest. A good name can make or break your brand, especially because your business will mainly run online. You need a short but catchy name that’s easy to pronounce and remember.

We recommend making a list of potential business names and then checking if they’re available as:

  • Business or brand names in your country or state;
  • Domain names;
  • Usernames for the social media platforms you plan on using.

If your chosen name is not registered as a brand but isn’t available as a domain name, try different variations of it. And try to keep in mind that “.com” isn’t the only extension available. Last but not least, make sure your business name isn’t breaking any copyright rules or impinging on any previously registered trademark.

Step 4: Structure Your Business

Structure Your Business

This is yet another very important step. Why? Because the structure of your business dictates the legal and tax requirements you need to abide by. The following are the most common business structures owners usually go for:

  • Sole proprietorship. Simple but lacks limited liability.
  • Partnership. Best if you start a business with a partner; has unlimited liability.
  • Limited liability company (LLC). Limited liability without incorporation.
  • Corporation. Limited liability but is more complex to set up and maintain.

You should always have an attorney on hand when making decisions like these. Each structure has different tax requirements and different legal obligations. Alternatively, you can consult with a business formation service before making your decision. Make sure to check out their reviews, however, such as this SmallBusinessHQ comparison between Inc Authority and LegalZoom.

Step 5: Get Legal

This is where you’ll have the most in common with a brick and mortar business. You’ll have to file the appropriate paperwork in order to make sure your business is legal and accepted by your state. You’ll have to:

  • Register your business with the appropriate government institutions;
  • Meet all federal and state tax requirements;
  • Obtain all required permits and licenses.

Step 6: Build Your Website

Build Your Website

Because your business will run online, you will need a website. This part should be done with as much care and consideration as the business plan. When you create your website, also take a look at all the available payment processors out there.

We recommend working with a professional to create your website, as they will take care of everything related to it. They’ll recommend a payment gateway and a good web host. Make sure your website is up and ready to withstand all kinds of traffic, especially during busy periods of the year such as Black Friday or other holidays.

Step 7: Implement Marketing Strategies

Implement Marketing Strategies

You’ll mostly base your marketing strategy on the business plan you’ve built in Step 2. No matter what you go with, it’s important to pay close attention to implementation. Build anticipation, use social media, and research what advertising methods work best for your type of business. It’s a well-known fact that a good marketing strategy is crucial to the success of a business.

Step 8: Launch Your Business

Launch Your Business

Congrats! You’re now ready to launch your business. You can make the grand announcement via social media platforms, email lists, online ads, or even traditional ads. During this phase, it’s time to enjoy all the benefits a good marketing strategy brings.

Of course, your work has only just begun. But if you follow through with these eight steps, you’ve already got a very solid start for your business. Keep in mind that this is the groundwork of your business and will decide your success going further so don’t skip any steps.

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