Starting a new business is an exciting time, where everything and anything can seem possible. Yet, while it’s important to dream, if you don’t forge a concrete plan for success then failure is almost inevitable.
So, if you’re a budding internet entrepreneur, here are 10 essential tips that will help you start your own online business.
- 1. Identify your market
If you’re considering creating a new business, it’s important to remember that a good idea is worth nothing. Good ideas are ten a penny, and from an entrepreneur’s perspective, the most important thing is to ensure that a good idea can turn into a profitable business.
When starting out, many businesspeople make the mistake of concentrating on an idea or product, rather than a market. However, it’s the viability of a market – or, more accurately, the likelihood of demand for what you’re selling – that will determine success.
For this reason, before pressing ahead, you will need to do research. Survey your audience and look at competitors to determine if the product or service you want to offer is viable for a particular market. When researching online audiences specifically, you can also do keyword research that will allow you to determine the types of problems that people are searching for a solution to online.
- 2. Don’t quit your day job straight away
The ultimate dream for anyone starting a new online business is to make enough money to quit their day job. Unfortunately, unless you’re either really good or really lucky, this isn’t going to happen straight away.
Budding online entrepreneurs who quit work before their new businesses really get going are often forced to take money out of that business to support themselves. However, in the initial start-up phase, where a cash cushion can make the difference between success and failure, the extra income provided by your day job could become crucial.
So, unless you have enough money in the bank to support the life to which you’ve become accustomed, it might not be the best idea to quit your day job straight away.
- 3. Website builder tools provide the cheapest option
Once you’ve zoned in on your market and product/service, the next important step is to build a website that does everything you need it to.
Luckily, there are a wide range of creation tools such as WordPress, SquareSpace or Weebly that make the process relatively cheap and easy. As an added bonus, most website creation tools also offer hosting services, which provide crucial storage space and internet connectivity capabilities for people visiting your website.
For more information about the options available, check out the post: ‘Choosing the Right Website Builder for Your Needs’.
- 4. Keep things simple when designing your site
When it comes to creating a website, there’s a whole gamut of design options available. However, because you only have a handful of seconds to grab and then retain a prospective customer’s attention, usability and functionality are key to e-commerce website design.
Consequently, nothing should take more than a few clicks to buy, any and all fonts need to be easy to read, and site-wide navigation must be as clear as possible. Additionally, while graphics and fancy images might catch the eye, these should only be considered if they don’t distract customers from your site’s core sales message.
- 5. Craft copy that sells
While building and designing your website, it’s important not to forget about the power of words. After all, it’s your website’s copy that will ultimately help guide potential customers through the buying process and convince them into becoming paying customers.
If you don’t have the utmost confidence in your writing abilities, you can check out ‘David Ogilvy’s 7 Tips for Writing Copy That Sells’ for inspiration. Alternatively, hiring a professional copywriter to create sales copy for you can provide a significant return on investment (ROI).
- 6. Pick the right domain name
It can be tempting to try to be clever when picking your company name and, by extension, your website’s domain name. Nevertheless, in a similar vein to designing your website, it’s best to keep things simple.
Keep your domain name short and easy to type, and include keywords that describe your business and the product or service that it offers. Try and be memorable – without being confusing – and only use appropriate domain extensions such as .com or .co.uk. Avoid using numbers and hyphens where possible.
Once you’ve picked the perfect domain name, it’s advisable to protect your brand by purchasing all the various domain extensions and misspelled versions. If your business becomes a success, this will help prevent potential competitors from piggybacking off your triumphs.
Furthermore, we would also suggest protecting your brand by registering it as a trademark. For more information about trademark registration and fees, go to the Intellectual Property Office website.
- 7. Don’t forget search engine optimisation (SEO)
For the uninitiated, SEO involves implementing techniques that boost your search engine rankings while increasing the number of visitors to your website. Although SEO is a multi-faceted discipline that requires a fair amount of technical skill, there are several easily comprehensible tricks you can keep in mind.
Firstly, is the content on your website relevant to your business and does it help provide answers for the things users are searching for? Secondly, in terms of performance, is your website fast loading and is it mobile-friendly? And thirdly, does your website provide a good user experience by being easy to navigate, trustworthy and safe?
Making sure you can answer yes to all these questions will help to ensure your website is optimised for search engines and potential customers.
- 8. Embrace digital promotion channels
The key to marketing your business online is making sure that your products and services are showcased where potential customers are looking.
For instance, both Facebook and Twitter are excellent platforms for engaging with and attracting new customers, so setting up business profiles on both is an absolute must. Likewise, creating and maintaining a blog on your website is the easiest way to establish a ‘voice’ for your brand and is therefore an integral part of almost every online business.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising should also be a consideration, as it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get traffic to a new website. If you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of PPC, you can read a great overview on the subject here. But, in short, PPC is a form of internet marketing provided by search engines like Google that allows businesses to create ads related to keywords that people are searching for. Consequently, PPC ads are a great way to get your business in front of a highly targeted audience.
- 9. Don’t hide behind a screen
Customer service is just as important for online business as it is for brick-and-mortar stores – if not more so. Therefore, you need to make sure that the standard customer service channels people expect are clear and present within the design of your website.
This includes social media channels, an ‘About Us’ page and contact details. More important, however, is regularly checking your business’ emails. This is because not replying to customer complaints in a prompt fashion has the potential to significantly damage your brand.
- 10. Continually evaluate your successes and failures
Many business niches, particularly in the online environment, are subject to rapid change. For this reason, the key to maintaining success over a longer period is constant evaluation. If you are assessing what does and what doesn’t work for your business on a consistent basis, you’ll know what to do more of and what to do less of.
Likewise, looking for new ideas and fresh concepts to implement always has the potential to provide long-term benefits. For instance, once your business is off the ground, is there scope to introduce back-end sales and upselling? Email marketing campaigns? Value-adding videos and guides? In short, you should never stop looking for ways to improve.
How can Simply-Docs help?
We provide a wide selection of ready-to-use internet and e-commerce document templates as well as website terms and conditions and privacy policies that can help reduce the amount of professional input your new online business will need.
We have invested a lot of time and effort into making sure all our documents are customisable and easy to edit. You can create terms and conditions for your website, goods and services terms and any other business legal document you might need quickly and easily.
For more information about our services, please do not hesitate to contact one of our expert team today.