Starting an online business has helped a lot of people to gain employment, make money online and achieve their personal goals.
These people include students, young graduates, stay-at-home moms and others who would have been unemployed without an online business.
It has given these guys a source of income, paid their bills and sustained their lifestyle to a very reasonable extent.
And for this reason, many other people have decided that starting an online business is what they want to dabble into, especially considering the flexibility and how easy it is to get started.
Regardless of this, some people are still asking questions like; is starting an online business the right thing for me?
So, are you one of the people asking this question?
In this post you’re not only going to find out your answers, you’re going to learn how to start a profitable online business, just like the people you’ve read about.
Why should I start an online business in the first place?
There are many different reasons why people start online businesses… One of these major reasons is the widespread availability of internet access and the need to make money online.
With the recent increase in internet connectivity and affordability of mobile devices, a lot of people are gaining access to the internet from different parts of the world.
In fact, according to a recent study, 6 out of 10 people in the world has access to the internet from their various locations.
As at 2019, this was an equivalent of 4.3 billion people. A majority of this number spend an average of 6 hours 49 minutes online, on a daily basis.
With such statistics, it is not only a good idea to start and run an online business that can give this huge number of people, the chance to shop online, a lot of people are doing this successfully.
Another reason you may want to consider starting an online business is because of the fact that starting a business online is not as difficult as starting an offline business.
In fact, there are certain online businesses you can start without money but your skills or even hobbies.
So generally, one of the biggest reasons you should start an online business is that it gives you the option to launch out, whether you have the money to invest in a brick and mortar store or not.
Things to put in place before launching an online business
Besides the fact that starting an online business is not as difficult as starting a business offline, the peculiarity of running an online business makes it important that you put certain things in place before you can run the business successfully.
The following are some of these important things you need to put in place before starting your own online business…
Audit your Skill
If you’re set to run a service based business, the number one thing you need to do before starting an online business is to audit your skills.
There are two reasons why you need to audit your current set of skills. The first is the fact that your business as an entrepreneur is to offer a unique value that can be paid for by another person.
So as part of your self-audit, you should find out; what skills do you have that people can really get to pay for at a certain price.
Ask yourself, the skill set you have, is it possible to exchange this for monetary value or would there be need to improve on it before you can exchange it for value?
Another reason you need to audit your skill set is to find out your passion and how to channel it as a value that can be paid for at a certain price.
This is very important if you want to start a business out of your passion or hobbies.
In that case, you need to find out if the thing you’re passionate can actually play out as a business idea.
Or if you’ll have to learn a new skill which can be profitable especially where you do not have any marketable skill.
So if you’re planning to run a business that involves a lot of writing like content marketing for example and you’re not a writer in real life, your first step is to learn content marketing and copywriting skills.
Same thing goes for someone wanting to start a graphics design business without adequate design skills.
The first thing to do is to work on finding out if the skills you have is actually good enough for you to build a business around it or whether you’ll have need to go learn and improve on the skills before getting started.
Choose the Right Business Model
Not all online business models work for everyone.
Depending on your peculiar circumstances, there are certain kinds of business models that will work for you. There are also others that will not work.
Take for instance, there’s an online business that will demand you start with yourself and a team of other people who could be your friends with varied skills etc.
There are also others you’ll have to start with yourself either because you want to focus on a particular skill or you don’t have the capacity to start with others just yet.
There are also other businesses like e-book publishing etc. that can run without needing your constant engagement after the initial effort.
You’ll have to choose an online business model that will fit you, depending on your schedule and resources.
If you’re a university or college student without much finances or people to start a business as a team, you can start as a freelancer and run your business by the side.
As a freelancer, you’ll be the one directly in charge of your business.
If you’re a graphic designer for example, you have to be the one to do the whole work involved.
From reaching out to clients, getting the job, completing it and everything in between, you’ll be directly responsible for the whole work involved in the process of working with a client.
If you’re coming together to start the business as a team, you’ll want to set out rules and put together a business model that will be realistic and effective for the business.
Get a Business Name
A business name is your online business identity.
If you’re running your online business as a freelancer you can choose to use a special business name or you can use your personal name if you choose.
On the other hand, if you’re setting up the business as a limited liability company, you have to register with authorities and you may want to consider using a business name that’s different from your personal name.
While choosing your business name, in order to avoid trademark infringement and other legal issues, be careful that you don’t choose a business name that’s already registered by another business entity within or outside your jurisdiction.
Choose your business name wisely. Be sure it reflects the nature of your business as much as possible.
In Nigeria, you can start an online business and then proceed to register the business name any time you want or you can register the name before getting started. It depends on what you want.
Set up your Brand
The fact you’re running an online business does not mean you don’t have to be professional.
The anonymous nature of the online world has made it a little difficult to get the right impression or trust online businesses completely so you’ll want to get your business positioned as a reputable entity.
Also, as an online business entrepreneur, you don’t only have to be professional; your potential clients have to see you as a professional before they can trust you and your services or products.
So, start with building up a brand for your business. Your brand should include things that people can easily use to define your business.
It includes both the visible and invincible elements like your brand culture, how you perform your services, customer experience, keeping to your word etc.
For your visible brand elements, you can start getting your logo right. Set up a logo that represents your business online. Be sure the logo captures your business and what it represents.
The following are other brand elements you need to put in place…
Set up a Mission, Vision Statement and business Objectives
This will also form part of the invisible elements of your brand.
Set up your social media handles
Consider getting a page for your business on all popular social media platforms, frequented by your target audience. Don’t try to get on all social media handles.
Go for the few that has the largest number of your target audience.
Create a Business email
Set up a business email for your business and make it distinct from your personal email. After this, work on setting up a professional website for your business.
Getting your business on a website does a lot to your brand. Specifically, it demonstrates, you’re running a serious business.
Also your business website can serve as a reliable virtual office where people can get to know about and contact your business.
Launching your Business
Now that every other thing is put in place, it’s time to launch your business.
You can decide to launch your business online, offline, on the social media or anywhere.
Supposing you’ve put your business website in place, the next thing to do would be launching the business and this could be done by writing a nice copy on your website, sharing the link on social media with a well written content or advertising the link via the social media handle you created earlier.
Alternatively, you can also launch your business by pre-writing and sharing a collection of write-ups that will tell your friends and family and others about the business on the social media before the actual launching date.
You can also decide to reach out to influencers, websites, magazines etc. that can help you share your new business to their audience on or before the launching date.
This business launching strategy can work for a freelancer, an agency, private business, ecommerce etc.
Grow your Business
As you’d probably know, setting up an online business is merely the first part of your entrepreneurship journey.
Running an online business successfully demands work and effort to make it become successful and sustainable.
It also demands sustainable strategies, systems and models that will yield repeatable success for your business.
The fact that your business is an online business or a side hustle does not mean you won’t work hard to make it successful.
Like other businesses, you’ll have to put in energy and effort before your online business can become successful.
A lot of online businesses run without a clear cut focus and strategy. These are part of the mistakes you should avoid if you want to set up a very successful online business.
Also, you’ll want to work on setting up systems that will help you run your business successfully.
In everything you do, start with strategies that will support your current resources while helping you achieve your long term business goals.
Remember, these strategies will be a bit different if you’re thinking of taking an existing business online.
In everything you need do, you must realize the success of your online business will depend on you, the effort and work you put in place.
Beyond thinking of starting an online business, you want to put everything in place to give this your very best shot if you really want to build a successful business.
Now it’s over to you. Now that you’ve learn about why you need to start an online business and the steps to build a successful business, it’s time to step out, build your business and soar.
If you feel you still need some guide or you need to be held by the hand as you take a step towards building your business, reach out to our team here.
Now, it’s over to you. What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to starting an online business? Let’s read your comments.