How to Start an Online Business

A Complete Guide

If you are looking for a complete and most comprehensive guide on “How to start an online business”, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will share with you a step-by-step guide regarding how you can start your online business easily and what things you must keep in mind while starting your own online business. So without any delay, let’s get started!

Step By Step Guide To Starting An Online Business

Here are the 10 basic steps that you need to know before starting an online business. We have covered all the major details for you so make sure you read till the end to learn everything about it!

1.    Choose a business idea and determine your niche 

Business niche is something that determines your focus area. It refers to the market segment you plan to target for your online business. This can be women, men, children, gymnasts, professionals, hobbyists, or any specific audience that you plan to cater to. 

While choosing a niche, you need to focus on some of the major aspects given below:

  • What does your target audience want? Is there something that needs a better solution?

  • Is the audience willing to pay for that solution?

  • Do they have enough income to afford it in the long term?

Find the answer to these three questions and avoid those niches that do not fit this criterion. This is because establishing an online business is not too easy and you do not want to invest your time and energy in products that people can either not afford or are not willing to buy. So think well before you choose your business niche. 

2.    Do the product research

Here comes the second step! You can sell three types of products online, and each one of them has its pros and cons.

  • Physical goods:

As you can tell from the name, these are the products that are manufactured, shifted to the warehouse, stored, and then sent to the consumer whenever ordered. In this, you have to manage the operational costs properly otherwise the profit margin can be very low. 

  • Digital products:

These include digital downloads like online courses, E-books, etc. Such products have a comparatively high profit margin, however, the prices of these products are usually lower than the physical products.

  • Services:

This is the fastest way to start earning from an online business. You can offer any service that you can do while sitting from your home and earn from it. This means that you are basically selling your time and energy in this business model. The only major con of this is that you can only give a limited amount of time to your work thus the earning can be limited. However once to grow into an agency, this problem can easily be overcome by hiring more people in your company. 

3.    Go through the online business laws

Many business owners think that as they are working online, they do not have to follow any rules. However, this is not true! You need to learn the online business laws before establishing an online business. The major things that you need to know include:

  • The type of business license that you must have

  • The legal structure of your business

  • Permits required if any. 

  • Any inspection that you need to pass

  • The Sales tax license, if required

  • Laws regarding hiring people online

  • Any other regulations specifically for the online businesses

It is important to note here that each country has its laws so you can confirm them for a local authority or seek professional help to guide you regarding this.

4.    Conduct a thorough market research

This is one of the most important steps in establishing an online business. You have to do thorough research so that you know all the in-depth details along with the competitiveness and profitability margins.

Market research helps you find everything you need to know about the demand, pricing, and sales of the product. Now the question arises; how to conduct market research? Here’s the answer to it!

  • Check and analyse the SERPs

This is the first thing that you have to do! Look for a variety of keywords and analyse the SERPs (Search engine result pages). Find out the type of content people are looking for and look for the pages on the top ranking. This will help you find out who your competitors are. Also, learn about the digital marketing strategy and SEO so that you can specifically target the audience for your content. 

  • Look for the competitors and find out how they are working

The second thing you need to do is go through your competitor businesses thoroughly and see how they are working. Find out their good points and weaknesses, and think of how you can come up with a better idea. Also, analyse how much money they are making and how much potential the business can offer. 

  • Monitor the niche-relevant keywords

You can analyse the demand for various products by keeping track of the high-performing keywords. This will help you find out which content ranks the best and which one can get you the most sale and profit. 

 The Google tools that can help you with this include Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner (both of these are free), whereas Ahrefs and Semrush are paid tools to help you with the job. 

5.    Define your audience

To reach your goal profit, you need to understand and target the right audience. Now the question arises: how to find the right audience? Well, you can find that out through the demographics and psychographics data. Demographics include socioeconomic characteristics like age, sex, job descriptions, etc.

Psychographics include psychological aspects like interests, choices, opinions, etc. You have to go through both of them thoroughly so that you can understand exactly who your target audience is and what they want.


6.    Choose a product sourcing strategy

To sell products online, you have to source them. Be very careful while choosing the sourcing strategy because your whole business will depend on it. Generally, there are three ways to do this:

  • Make the products yourself

This option is more suitable for digital products as compared to physical products. In the case of physical products, you have to design the product, choose the material, select the process, interact with people, and get it ready. All of this increases the overall cost, thus reducing the profit margin. However, doing this gives you a great advantage in terms of the quality of the product. 

  • Choose Dropshipping

The second way is to find a dropshipper who can manufacture and dropship the products for you. Many beginners choose this way as it is more convenient and you do not have to stock up a lot of inventory.

  • Find a wholesaler

You can also work with a wholesaler who can provide you with a wide range of products at the wholesale price. You can even talk to them to distribute the products for you if they agree. 

7.    Evaluate carefully if the product is actually viable:

Now before making a deal or purchasing a big order, you have to question yourself these things:

  • Is there any other successful online business that is also selling similar products?

  • Is the demand sustainable or just temporary?

  • Would I be able to sell the product at a good profit?

Please remember that no matter how cool you think your product is, it is always important to check its viability before ordering or manufacturing in bulk!

8.    Work on your Brand Identity

This defines your overall identity and outlook! It also defines your presence on social media, on the packaging, and even on the newsletter. While finalizing a brand identity, make sure you pay special attention to the graphics, logo, typography, colour schemes, and page layouts. All of these elements must complement each other to show the overall identity of your brand. 

9.    Prepare for the launch of your online store

Now, this is another very major step! You have to finally set up your eCommerce website. That is how you do it:

  • Choose an eCommerce platform

This is the backbone of your business and everything is done here from the beginning till the payment processing. 

There are several options and you can choose any according to your preference. BigCommerce is one of the popular ones. It offers a wide range of features with no customizations or limits. WooCommerce is another good option with a lot of extensions that can help you with the marketing, shipping, and accounting of the products. However, in this, you have to hire a developer to set up a store, and also you have to purchase the hosting first.

Shopify is also a similar platform that offers a lot of eCommerce features with over 4100 apps and lots of themes to design your website. Thus, you can choose any of these platforms depending on the budget, your needs, and how much you can afford.

  • Add products to your business catalogue

Now once you have selected a platform, next comes the step of adding products to the catalog. Here you have to consider some of the very important aspects:

  1. Make sure you add high-definition images and cover all the aspects of the products. Try capturing from different angles so that the customer can have a clear insight regarding the product. 

  2. Give catchy product descriptions with some of the major features of the products. Focus more on what the customer will get from the product. 

  • Test everything and make sure it is working properly

Once your store is live and the products are uploaded, next, you have to test that everything is working properly. You can hire a QA specialist for that if you have a budget, or else, you can do it yourself by considering the following things:

  1. Make sure that the pages look good on all gadgets (laptop, mobile, desktop)

  2. The website works properly on all the browsers (firefox, chrome, explorer)

  3. All the clicks work properly

10.   Drive traffic towards your business and make it grow

Now once everything is ready, the final step is to drive traffic and engage the audience towards your website. You can do it in several ways:

  • Pay for the ads: This is the fastest way to drive traffic to your website. Fix an ad budget for the pay-per-click ads on social media so that more and more people can get to know about your brand. 

  • Social media marketing: This includes joining the paid campaigns on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

  • Partner with the influencers: This is called influencer marketing. You can work with influencers on social media to help you promote your product. This is another quickest way to gain traffic on your website. 

  • Email Marketing: Another way is to build an email list through which you can promote your products and gain subscribers. 

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Make sure that all the pages on your website are search engine optimized. You can work on a content marketing strategy to make sure that your website comes on the top when searched on Google. 

The End Note:

Online business is all about choosing the right products and the right strategies. It involves a lot of market research and thorough analysis. To start up with, you have to choose a niche, select an eCommerce platform, get your products ready, and add them to the catalogue.

Next, you have to draw traffic and audience to your website. All this may take some time and you learn through the process. Just make sure that you keep analysing so that you know exactly where improvement is required. However, nothing to worry about! Nobody knows 100% of it all, and you will learn it just with the experience. So start today and establish your own online business within no time! Good luck! 

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