If you want to get into the online business game, now is a good time to get started. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped consumer spending online, including how people shop and research products online.
76% of Americans now purchase products online. Additionally, approximately one-third of people purchase products online every week. From starting an e-commerce business to offering web design services, there are countless avenues to explore as an entrepreneur.
Below, we'll walk you through each step of building your online business.
- When starting an online business, comprehensive market research is important to identify your target audience and learn how to resonate with your customers and understand their needs.
- Creating a business plan is an important step in outlining your business goals. This also includes key elements such as product description, target market, and financial projections.
- Building a website includes setting up a domain name, finding a hosting company, and designing a strong website with consistent branding that customers can navigate intuitively.
- Choosing the right product or service to sell is important. It is important to think about how to address unmet needs.
- From content marketing to paid advertising, you can utilize several digital marketing strategies to help your business grow.
Successful online entrepreneurs study hard to understand the market thoroughly. This is important to know exactly how to reach your target market. Because these people will buy your products and drive business growth.
The core of market research is understanding customer needs, problems, and solutions. It's designed to help businesses better meet these needs.
Steps to conduct market research
Market research involves understanding important aspects of your current and future customers. To get a clear picture of your target market, outline the characteristics of your audience, including age, location, gender, income, job title, and key pain points.
Once you've identified your target audience, conduct research on the following topics: This helps you understand how users make decisions and how you can better position your business.
- What challenges are your target market facing?
- Where do you research a particular product or service?
- What do they think about pricing this product or service?
- What factors influence purchasing decisions?
- Who are your competitors?
There are many ways to perform this market research.
- focus group
- Competitive analysis
- Brand awareness survey
- Market segmentation research
To learn more about your audience, consider the following questions you might be asked in an interview or focus group.
- “How do I find that product?”
- “How helpful was it?”
- “What words do you use when searching on Google?”
Once your market research is complete, identify what you learned and your next steps based on these insights.
Creating a business plan is an important first step for all business owners. This is important for companies that want to secure funding sources. It also serves as a blueprint for summarizing key business goals and objectives.
To create a business plan, include the following eight main sections commonly found in traditional templates:
- executive summary: This is typically a one-page section that describes your goals, including your mission statement, your core team, and why your company is positioned for success.
- Company Profile: This explains what you offer, your competitive advantage, and your business goals.
- market analysis: Here, we will discuss the target market, market size, market trends, and competitive environment.
- organization and management: Describe who works on your team and their professional background and experience.
- service or product line: Describe the product or service you offer, including any copyright or patent plans.
- marketing and sales: Discuss marketing and sales strategies. Discuss pricing, key metrics, and sales plans.
- Request for funding: If you are a company looking for financing, here is an overview of the capital you will request and where it will be allocated.
- financial forecasting: Include a projection of the company's revenues and expenses. Consider including your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in this section.
A business plan is important because it helps you clarify your action points, who you are, and what you offer in a consistent template.
Taking your business online is the next important step. In an ever-changing environment, it's important to know the tools, trends, and strategies to build a strong online presence that allows your business to grow.
The first step is to register your name or website address. This can be in the form of your business name “.com”. To purchase a domain name, visit sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap. If you want to build a website using WordPress, you should use a site like the following to host your website:
web hosting company
Alternatively, you can purchase a domain name from a hosting company. These are companies like Shopify, Wix, and Amazon Web Services, which may also provide tools for building websites and releasing content.
A well-designed website is important for many reasons. Website builders like Mailchimp and Squarespace allow you to choose a theme, customize your pages, create relevant content, and set up a payment page.
Other important aspects of website design include functionality, simplicity, and ease of use. Making sure potential customers can navigate your site intuitively is key to their experience. Brand consistency, including logos, colors, and typefaces, is also key to creating a unified brand.
Another important part of website design is the mobile application. You need to make sure your website runs smoothly on mobile, images load properly, text is easy to read, and buttons are intuitive to click.
Product or service selection
This step focuses on how to choose the right product or service to sell. Central to this choice is the goal of solving the customer's problem. However, there are many strategies you can use to identify product ideas.
For example, you might consider analyzing companies with high profit margins, products that align with your passions, fastest-growing trends, trending items in online marketplaces, customer reviews, and more.
With this in mind, analyze how this product will be delivered to your customers. Additionally, you can consider products that are not available in stores in your local market, but are offered in communities such as Europe and Japan.
marketing and promotion
Marketing strategy and promotion are important drivers of business growth. As the digital landscape evolves, it's important to develop an effective marketing plan that responds to changing consumer preferences and needs.
Here are some questions businesses can consider when developing their marketing strategy while staying responsive to today's environment:
- impact, value and growth: What are the goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure the success of your business? How will you explain the value your business provides to customers and society? Create an “elevator speech.” This is a 30-second explanation of what you offer and why it's special.
- Customer needs and brand promise: How does the brand meet customer needs through its products and services?
- customer experience: How does a business provide the best experience at each stage of the customer journey?
- organizational model: How will your business operate to provide the most impactful service to your customers?
These can help you understand what kinds of strategies can have real-world impact.
Types of marketing strategies
Consider the following digital marketing strategies you can use for your online business.
- email marketing
- social media marketing
- paid advertising
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- content marketing
- influencer marketing
Each of these represents different ways to reach your target audience, drive conversions, and build brand awareness, depending on your marketing goals.
Is starting an online business a good idea?
You have to decide for yourself. However, before starting an online business, it's important to evaluate the time, investment, and resources needed to get your business off the ground. The barrier to entry may be very low, but it's worth considering your goals and strategies to make it a reality.
However, compared to starting a business in a traditional brick-and-mortar location, the risks of starting an online business may be reduced, especially because the initial costs such as rent, labor, and materials are lower.
Can you start an online business with $100?
The short answer is yes. Depending on the type of business you want to pursue, there are many ways to start an online business for very little money. For example, you can offer services such as freelance work, photography, bookkeeping, or personal training. The main costs involved include setting up your business website. Companies like GoDaddy cost just $2 to $20 a year.
What are the different types of online marketing strategies?
There are many digital marketing strategies that online businesses can use, including content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, SEO, and influencer marketing. Each of these strategies is useful depending on your product and goals.
Starting an online business can be a powerful way to launch new products and services while reaching more users. With market research, a solid business plan, a strong website, and a digital marketing strategy, you can effectively grow your company. Building an online business is essential to a business owner's success as customers increasingly make decisions virtually.