How to Start an Online Business from Scratch
Just owning a great idea is not enough to start an online business from scratch. But at the same time, starting an online business is not as hard as you may think. Sure, running an online business has its own sets of challenges, but you can improve your chances of success if you follow these realistic steps.
You may have heard from a lot of people that hard work is all it takes to make the leap into entrepreneurship, but doing all the hard work without understanding the necessary steps to take when setting up your venture. Keep reading if you want to know how to start an online business from scratch, as we’ll take you through each step of starting a business!
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When you decide to start an online business, one of the first essential steps that you have to do is finding your niche. But just how do you do it? And once you’ve found the right one from the countless profitable niches out there, you might also be wondering, what to do about it?
But before we start, let’s understand better what niche is. A niche is a small part of a larger market that has its own specific demands and needs, making it different from the market at large. By selecting a niche, you will have an area of expertise in which your business will specialize. Because whether you’re just launching your brand or have been in the business for a while, you want to be known for something unique that isn’t already out there.
For example, within the market of women’s clothing are so many different niches that include sleepwear, activewear, occasion wear, and everyday casual wear. Here, you will want to find a specific market that you can serve time and time again.
When you focus on a single niche, you can easily find your ideal customers and proceed with approaching them with targeted marketing. Once you’ve found this gap that only your business can fill, you can move on to the next step of starting an online business from scratch.
Now that you know who your target audience are, and have defined them by mapping out who these people are, what kind of problems they face, and whether or not they are willing to spend money on your products or services, you can start to narrow your options with the solutions your products present.
Most of the successful businesses in the market help solve some sort of problems of their target customers by offering solutions to their ongoing problems. For example, you do want to start a women's clothing brand, but at the same time realize that there is a growing number towards sustainable options as the fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of global carbon footprint and contributes to an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste. With this understanding, you would want to provide solutions for your ethical fashion consumers by creating a brand that addresses these challenges. The potential products will require certain materials, with a certain manufacturing and price point that show how the brand celebrates its commitment to the planet.
You have got the idea, found your niche, and came up with products that provide a detailed solution. At this point, it may be tempting to launch a business right away once you’ve had the idea of what products that suit your niche. But you would better not rush into it and instead, conduct a market research and SWOT analysis to know your competitive positioning in the market.
Here’s how to perform a SWOT analysis for your online business:
- Identify the strength of your business
- Analyze the weaknesses
- Identify your business opportunities
- List the threats to your business
Doing so will help you find relevant insight from your competitors—the successes, the mistakes, and the opportunities to optimize what works—resulting in you knowing how your products might perform if taken to the market.
Since you’re planning to start an online business, of course you need to build your platform to show your online presence. To build an online business website, the first couple of things you need to do is choosing a domain name and web hosting. Make sure you choose a domain name that is easy to spell, memorable, and SEO-friendly. Once you’re done with the two, you need to start thinking about web design and find one that works best for your business.
Aside from thinking about how you want your website to look, you need to consider a specific user experience and what your potential customers would want from your website. For instance, when you're building a website for a high-end clothing brand, you may want to consider a more simple but effective design that maintains users’ focus on words and high-quality images that convince them to make a purchase. But if you’re building a marketplace website where you’re selling a lot of different products, it’s best for you to opt for a user-friendly website-design that makes it easy for the customers to find what they’re looking for.
But no matter what design you choose, make sure your website is quick to load, mobile-responsive, and has an easy-to-follow site navigation so users don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of options.
When you’re ready to start promoting your online business, you need to start thinking about strategies to drive traffic to your online store. There are many channels you can use to advertise your business. However, below are five strategies that are commonly used to quickly land sales:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is the art of optimizing specific keywords to rank higher in search results. Hence, attracting users to your website requires a good SEO strategy. By investing in SEO and raising your ranking in search engines such as Google, you’ll drive more traffic which can boost your conversion rate and increase sales.
You can identify the keywords that work for your page by doing keyword research on what your target audience is searching and what your competitors are targeting.
- Social media marketing
Social media is a great place to advertise your products because it presents huge opportunities to reach out and connect with your target audience, and even make sales directly within social platforms. With the rise of Instagram Shopping and TikTok Shop, business owners can now take potential customers directly to their business page, making the shopping experience more seamless.
- Email marketing
When you’re starting an online business, email marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and build a stronger brand to drive conversions and growth. You can collect more email addresses by featuring a subscription form on your website with clear calls to action, or offering a special discount code.
Once you have your email list, consider creating email newsletters on a regular basis that consist of a good mix of content that customers find useful and interesting to read and stay subscribed to your list.
- Influencer marketing
If you have the budget, you might want to include influencer marketing as part of your strategies to promote your business. As of now, influencer marketing is the fastest-growing method to build brand awareness and attract sales. A recent survey shows that despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, 90% of marketers believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing.