Starting an online business in Nigeria can be one of the most rewarding things you will do for yourself.
It can also be one of the most tasking activity you will ever embark on If some things are not put in place.
But in the long run it’s usually a mixed story for different entrepreneurs.
In one hand you’ll have the fulfilment of adding value to people and making money online.
On the other hand, things can really get unpredictable especially at the initial stages and you’ll wonder if you’re actually doing the right thing.
The four stages to building a successful online business.
No matter the online business you want to engage in, there are four clear stages you’ll have to get through, to build your online business successfully.
The stages include the following:
- The ideation stage.
- Planning Stage.
- Building and
- Marketing Stage.
The Ideation Stage.
This stage is where you generate, formulate and process your online business idea.
It is divided into two stages where you evaluate both your idea and your motive skillset.
Evaluate Your Idea: At the first part of the ideation stage, you want to bring together the idea in your head, find out if it’s worth building a business around it or not.
This is because every business exists to provide solutions to one problem or the other. So for your idea to be viable, it has to be capable of solving one existing problem or the other.
It doesn’t really matter what the problem is. It could be the need to build website for businesses, provide graphics designs etc.
Whatever it is, your business idea should be tied towards solving a problem that will provide a unique value to people for which you’ll be paid.
Now, one other informal way to test the viability of an idea for an online business is to find out if there are existing businesses in that niche or any other niche closely related to it?
Any business idea that already has a handful of people operating something similar to it is usually an indication of viability.
On the other hand if you realize the business around your idea is completely novel without existing businesses, try to research the idea first.
Find out if there are people in need of such service or product or others that could be interested in it.
Set up questionnaires and surveys either online or offline. Or ask questions directly. Ask questions that will help you find out an ideal client’s reaction to the idea.
Your findings and researches at the ideation stage helps you to know whether there’s an existing market for your idea or not.
Where there are no existing market or demand for the business idea, you can leave the idea at this stage and move onto something else.
Evaluate your motive, passion and skillset. As part of the second part of the ideation stage, you’ll want to evaluate your motive, passions and skillset, to further test the viability of your idea as regards your personal goals.
A lot of people believe following your passion is very important when it comes to starting a business…
But, in some cases you will need to have certain skills and also understand the business around your passions before you can develop and make it profitable.
So after evaluating your idea, you have to find out, do you have the basic or required skills needed to launch the business idea or will you have to undergo some training to get equipped with these skills before launching your business?
If you’re going to undergo some training, how long would it take and what will it cost you? These are also some questions you should ask yourself.
To answer these questions and be able to make the right decisions, you’ll also have to understand your motive or the reason you want to start the business in the first place.
If you’re planning on starting an online business because you’re broke and in need of quick cash to fix urgent needs then you don’t need to start with any idea that will demand you spend time to learn certain skills before getting started.
Also, if you’re in a situation where you’ll have to learn a lot of skills before getting started to build a business and you can’t really afford that because you have an urgent need for cash, you can always start with ideas that support your level of skill set.
From here you can work on building your skills while making money with your business at the same time.
In a nutshell, the ideation stage is very strategic and important to the success of your online business. The two component parts of this stage helps you position your business for success.
Beyond understanding the viability of your idea, it helps you understand what works especially in relation to your goals and resources.
This stage is a quite broad.
After you’ve been able to assess the viability of your business idea, you can now move onto the planning stage.
The planning stage is where you get the business from an idea in your head into an illustrated business plan that can be seen, read and understood.
The business plan does not have to be something difficult or too elaborate.
You can start with a mind map of your business idea and the trajection you have for it, from the beginning stage to the growth and maturity stage of the business.
At this stage, you write down the idea, capture it in phases including a clear idea of how you imagine it to be within a certain period of time.
The planning stage of your business development is divided into the following phases;
Resource Management and Allocation: The planning stage will also take care of your resources, resource management and resource allocations.
For Freelancers, these resources can include things like your time, gadgets, money etc.
To be able to manage your business effectively, you have to manage your your resources properly.
Time: Ask yourself, how much time do you really have to invest on your business for it to be run effectively?
Will you be running it on a part time or full time basis?
If possible you can get as detailed as projecting the number of days, months or years it would take you to be able to commit to your business full time.
Gadgets and others: Are there gadgets or special resources needed t run your business successfully? Do you have them in place or would you rather work with others that have them?
These are questions you’ll have to answer..
Where you have the gadgets and all resources in place, you can work on building your business with that.
Where you don’t have any of such in place, you can think of working on building strategic relationships with people that have such or involving them in your business and giving them cuts.
Plan, find out and allocate the best time to write blog posts, or social media articles, share your posts, network etc.
What it will cost you to launch the business. Again, at the planning stage, you’ll find out how much it’ll cost you to start the business, how you’ll raise the funds and if borrowed funds how you’ll repay the debt.
The planning stage will also cover your mode of operations, how the business will be run, the clients etc.
You’ll want to find out if there’s going to be need to employ staff at the beginning stages or if you’ll have the capacity to do the bulk of the work.
If there’ll be need to employ staff, you’ll also work on the modalities. Are they going to be virtual staff or physical staff?
The idea is for the business plan to guide and direct every business step you take throughout the existence of the business.
It will cover as much as possible and as detailed as anything you can use to get started with.
This is also where you write your overall business plan. Make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achieavable, Realsitic, Timelined), based on a good understanding of your Strength, Weakness Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).
For most people, the planning stage is beyond where they write out their goals and objectives.
It is also where they get to understand the idea much better, carve out a niche for themselves and possibly differentiate themselves from other existing businesses.
This stage can take days to formulate completely. You don’t have to rush it.
It would demand lots of researches, questions and testing of business models.
This is where you begin to build your online business based on your existing plan.
The building stage is where you put your idea into a physical business.
This phase is divided into the following;
Branding Stage: At this point, you’ll want to create your brand. You’ll also want to create other branding tools like logos, business cards etc.
Platform Stage: This is also where you want to build your business platforms.
This could be your website, social media pages, and any other customized platform.
Product Stage: For people building an information marketing business (or selling ebooks, online tutorials etc), this is usually the stage you create these products.
The product stage could take Days, Weeks, Months or just Hours. It all depends on the product you’re building
The building stage is also where you’ll test and set up business systems that can help you achieve your business goals.
After building your idea as a physical online business, the next thing is getting it launched on the virtual world or both online and offline.
Lunching your online business can also be done on your business website or on your social media page. After the launch, you’ll spend a lot of time marketing the business.
Although a lot of people combine both marketing and building stage together just to build momentum before the actual launch, marketing on it’s own is an independent continuous process.
You can also do some sort of marketing to build momentum for your product before you’re done creating the product.
But generally, you should have some sort of a marketing plan. An different marketing funnels that are tried and tasted.
Usually, a lot of online businesses automatically focus on content writing on their blogs as the basic marketing strategy etc.
Sometimes this strategy doesn’t work. Especially for new businesses. So the result might be very disappointing.
Instead of focusing on content marketing alone, combine other marketing strategies and see what works best for you.
Try social media marketing, paid ads and others as part of your marketing strategy until you find out what works best then stick with that.
At the marketing stage, you want to get your business known by possible clients and others. There are many ways to do this.
It’s very sad a lot of online businesses do not follow the usual business development stages.
That’s one of the reasons we have so many failed businesses out there. This is not supposed to be so.
On a personal level, one of the reasons my first online business failed is because I didn’t follow through recognized business development stages.
I didn’t even realize there was anything like that. I felt having a business idea was all i needed
And this approach led me to a very devastating and resounding failure to say the least.
A lot of wannabe entrepreneurs are still going through the same mistakes. Sometimes out of ignorance.
Also, a lot of Nigerians feel an online business should not have processes. It should be something anyone with a laptop and internet connection can get to do.
To build a successful online business, this mindset has to be changed.