Starting an online business shares many of the challenges, risks and difficulties inherent to just any type of business. Before you get your new business off the ground, there’s much to do, and many considerations to take.
For every successful business out there, there are hundreds of failing ones, mostly because they’ve chosen to ignore the importance of good planning, or they didn’t consider the magnitude of the task ahead of them.
Here’s a quick guide with 6 simple steps to help get your online business started of on the right foot, and hopefully increase your chances to reach success with your business. If you’re completely new to running an online business, you should check out my basic guide to making money online.
1. Find Your Niche
In order for your business to survive you need to identify your market. That is the people whose needs you’re targeting to satisfy with your services. You can start by throwing your offer out in the open, but chances of success are much greater if you target people with a certain need or issue, and provide them with a solution.
Start with online forums or Q-and-A websites like Quora, Ask.com, Yahoo! Answers, or Google Questions and Answers to see what kind of problems people are trying to solve, and see how you can help them.
Research for keywords that a lot of people search for, but not many businesses are competing on. Look into what your competitors are doing to fill the demand, and then offer a product or service that does this better.
Recommended reading: Keyword Research and Getting Ranked for the Right Words and Phrases.
2. Create a Sales Copy that Sells (Without Screaming Sales)
Too often, businesses go overboard with their sales copy. Instead of pushing customers to buying, put yourself in their shoes and think “What’s in it for me?”. Engage with your target audience to pinpoint their needs, and then create genuinely helpful content that answers those needs, focusing on both quality and quantity.
Spark their interest, describe how your product or service can help them, establish your business’ credibility and support it with real-life examples and testimonials from previous customers. Discuss their benefits as users, create urgency, and then make your offer and ask for the sale.
3. Your Website Is Your Biggest Asset
Once you decide your market and product/service, you can start designing and building your website. Keep your site simple and clear, with one or two plain fonts on a white background, and easy customer-friendly navigation that assists the visitors so they’ll know what to do.
The worst thing you can do is to over-complicate things! Make it easy-to-buy, with no more than two clicks to the checkout to increase the chance of conversions. Also use images, audio, and video content, but only to support and enhance your message. And don’t forget to add an email opt-in to collect visitors’ e-mails!
4. Use SEO to Drive Targeted Buyers to Your Business
You can have the best business in the world and offer amazing products and services to your customers, but very few will ever discover them unless Google knows them first.
In the online world, search engines are the #1 way to reach out to new potential customers, and to rank your website higher in their search results, it needs to be optimized for the keywords that your business targets.
However, this can take a while, so if you want to show up on the search pages and get immediate traffic you have the option of running paid PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads, if it’s not a burden to your brand-new business’ budget. For more information check out my Guide to the basics of SEO.
5. Reinforce Your Business Decisions with Valuable Insights
To take your business a few steps further, you must constantly monitor and analyze your data, and base your decisions on these statistics, which are true indicators of the attention your business gets and keeps. This is easily done with tools like Google analytics and webmaster tools.
6. Always Be Fresh and Relevant
People want to know that they’re getting the latest, freshest and most informed response when engaging with your business, products and services.
They’re counting on your professional expertise and knowledge of the industry you work in.
That is why constantly updating and improving the content and overall quality of your homepage, and other landing pages, is just as important as your marketing activities.
Internet changes, but the basics are always valid.
If you’re just starting out with your online business, stick to these six steps to bring it to success. If you’ve been in the online industry for a while now and you’re looking to do better, make sure to review your actions and see if you’re neglecting something. You can never go wrong getting back to the basics.
If you still haven’t started your online business, check out my Get Started page to get started today, and open up a free starter account with my #1 recommended tool for building and managing your online business!
Feel free to drop a comment below if there’s something I’ve missed. Maybe your “thorny road” can teach others some valuable lesson.