So, you have a great idea for an online business? Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to set up and start a new venture – but it still requires some planning.
We are going to talk about the basics when it comes to starting your business online.
Create a business plan
If you want a serious business, you’re going to need to create a robust business plan. While it’s easy enough to set up a website, how are you going to monetize it? Is there a market for what you are offering, and how much money can you commit to developing your idea? Sketch out your timeframe, and create a schedule of when you intend to get things done. It will give you a guideline to work from, and keep you focused on what to do next.
Remember that running a business is serious business, you have to comply with local, state, national and international laws (when you start a business online). You don’t want to get yourself in trouble trying to make money.
You will need some capital (money) to start your business. Yes you can start it on a shoe string and struggle for month or years to start making a good enough profit from your business that you can leave your employment or so that you can comfortably support your household – but why struggle, you might as well go back to employment = money is better and less stress.
If however you want to REALLY run a business, ensure that you have a minimum 3 – 6 months safety net (money saved in the bank), incase your business does not take off as quickly as you hoped. Having a business plan in place you will already know where you are going to advertise your business, how you will get clientele, competitors and what you need to look out for.
Decide on a business name
You need to decided early off what you are going to trade as. Will it be just your name? Will it be a business name?
When deciding check the following places prior to deciding on the official name:-
- Check with your local business name registration board if your business name is available (in Australia that is ASIC)
- Check that your domain name is available
- Check all endings
- .net, .com, .com.au (for Australian Businesses), .biz
- You are looking for other businesses that your business might accidentally get confused with
- Check all endings
- Google your ideal business name and see what currently comes up in Google – are you happy for your business to be searched and those results to come up? Is there a lot of similar businesses currently appearing?
- Check Trademarking to ensure you are not infringing on someones else Intellectual Property
- Check what your business name reads when all the words are joined together (I am sure you have seen some # fails the last couple of years) – eg: thebusinessclassroom
- Check if Social Media Platforms have any users with the same proposed business name or if someone is using it as their username or page name.
- Check your spelling
Doing these basic checks can help prevent a headache further on down the track.
Secure Your Domain and Social Media Handles
So you have decided on your what you are going to trade under for your business and registered your business name if needed, now is time to secure your domains and social media handles (get them early while they are still available).
When securing your domain if you can try to secure all the common endings right off the bat. Not only will you usually get a bulk discount you will also help prevent other businesses / blogs buying the other URL’s and possibly confusing your prospective customers when they are searching for you. When looking for domain names check out Godaddy, they are a great entry level hosting company and domain name provider (keep an eye out for their specials and discount codes).
When securing your domain handles sign up for all the common platforms you never know how your business will evolve and what you will want to use in the future. I also sign up for new platforms as soon as they come out just to secure my social media name, I might choose not to use the platform but if I do at least I have my business name locked in.
Main platforms to secure your name on start up – Facebook Page (claim your customer URL. For Example: https://www.facebook.com/thebusinessclassroomaus), Twitter Handle, YouTube Channel and Pinterest.
Now you can think about building your website. You can use a free service like WordPress.com, it also allows you to easily transfer over to a wordpress.org (self hosted) account when you are ready. Just be sure to read the Terms and Conditions about monetisation of WP.com websites.
If you are selling online there is a range of online platforms that allow you to set up shop with out your own website and that will integrate with social media channels so you can have a shop front on your Facebook page – eg: Selz.com, Bigcommerce.com.
*** Just remember though if you are using a platform to host your website and / or your shop that you do not own – you MUST follow their terms and conditions and at any time they can choose to close down your site without notice, or change the terms and conditions that may affect your business ***
Your website and social media needs content to help your prospective clients discover you and so they stay engaged with you. Create well-written, helpful articles that people can read and share on their social media channels is a great start. Mix things up a little – have videos, blog posts and infographics to keep things interesting. From the start ensure you have a way for people to join your email list – free opt ins work great (offer people something free for joining your mailing list. For example :- free ebook, free video series, free checklist)
If you are new to the online world, you’re going to need some help with SEO. Search engine optimization is a process that tweaks your website so that it appeals to the search engines. It’s not as scary as it sounds, though, and you can easily find some great info on the web. SEO specialist Oliver Wood recommends you find a company that has a lot of experience, and that keeps on top of current trends. Find the right SEO company, and you can expect your website visits to increase significantly. This is great for businesses who choose not to use social media for business promotion or for businesses who want people to find them through Google searches.
Of course, the reality is that this is just the start of your new business, and the hard work has only just started! So, keep checking back to our blog for some great ideas, tips and tricks for running your business or blog.