Today’s businesses are all digitized, requiring online presence more than ever. So, wanting to know how to start business online requires more than just tools and general knowledge. It requires an appropriate framework and strategy right from the start, so that you can accelerate your path towards success.
Here we will discuss a 5-steps framework that you should take note of when planning on starting your business online. Towards the end we will reveal the key tools that you will need to ensure the success of your online business.
Let’s check it out!
1. Strength And Passion
Learning how to start business online is more than just the mechanical tools or strategies. It is an actual entrepreneurship that you need to take serious. Hence, examining your strength and passion is the first place to look into albeit it seems a little cliche.
But we can’t stress the importance of making what you love to do as your business. Because it’s so hard to push on during the tough times if you don’t enjoy what you are doing.
This is something that you need to discover yourself. Yet, we know that you may still be figuring out what your passion is. So, what we want to highlight is namely two points below.
First, understand that getting stuck in finding your passion is not the way to go. In fact, passion is built overtime. And more often than not, finding your strength can lead to discovering your passion. Remember the time when you lost track of time because you are so focused on doing something. There’s a very good chance that you are good at doing the work on hand. Because you are good at it, you enjoy doing it. And over time, it turns into what we identify as – passion.
So, if you feel stuck in trying to find what your passions are exactly, brainstorm on your strengths instead. It will be easier to discover your passions that way.
Secondly, while searching from your inner self, you can gauge from external reference as well. Ask yourself why your friends or colleagues like hanging out with you. What comments do they have to say about you or your work? It can help to highlight your strengths that you have missed.
2. Focus And Niche
While finding your passion is important to kick start your business journey, it is not a strategy. You need to integrate your passion with a niche. Yes, you may have great ambition to build a big enterprise. But all great things start small. Selling to everybody is selling to nobody.
Given the initial small size and startup capital, it is not effective to reach out to everyone. Follow Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. From the start, Bezos already has the vision to build an “everything store”. But he understood that it was necessary to focus on one product category and dominate first before expanding to other segments.
As such, the first objective was to become the world’s biggest bookstore, rather than the “everything store”. The eventual vision of the “everything store” was achieved because Bezos singularly focused on the books category first.
Therefore, you should start off by narrowing your product or service offering to a narrow field. Once you have attained some results, you can reinvest the resources to expand your product line or service offering.
3. Find The Right Business Model
The 7 Online Business Models
Understanding your passion and niche to focus on is critical. In addition, you need to know where you are generating revenue from when thinking about how to start business online. There are generally only seven broad categories of online business models as below.
- Ecommerce (Physical And Digital Products).
- Services (Consulting And Coaching).
- Affiliate Marketing.
Basic Business Models To Get You Started
The very likely business model that most choose will be the ecommerce model. Whether you are setting up your own online shops using shopify, or selling on established platforms like Amazon, you may need an upfront capital to buy and resell.
Otherwise, you can choose to create digital products like ebooks, artworks or even courses and sell them online. Dropshipping has become very popular these days as you can market products from suitable suppliers who will ship directly to the end consumers. So, you don’t hold any inventory at all. Rather, you will be the middle man to market the product to other potential customers.
If you are selling services online, you will need online presence as well, given today’s digitized world. Whether you are using paid advertising or driving organic traffic to your site, a branded online presence is important. They will serve to convert these traffic to actual paying customers for your service.
Advanced Business Models
Affiliate marketing and advertising model works more for bloggers or publishers. If you have specific knowledge and a passion to share, this can potentially be a lucrative business to start. However, you will require substantial traffic in order to generate substantial advertising revenue. While you share valuable content, you can recommend products or tools that are useful to earn commissions on successful sales.
Once you have built a substantial content base or even developed a software, you may adopt the subscription model. Paying members can access these exclusive content or use the software-as-a-service (SaaS).
You saw that there are practically just a handful of business models to choose from. There is no right or wrong path. The key is to get started. In fact you can even choose to combine various models to serve your customers.
Therefore, regardless of which model you choose, work on building a professional website and your email list. You will then have the flexibility to reach out to your audience anytime, anywhere.
4. Balance Between Long-Term And Short-Term Plans
Importance of Long-Term Plans
Building great business requires not only differentiated products or services, but also strong brands and financial health. Ultimately, if one can reach substantial economies of scale and build an economic moat around the business, its competitive advantage can allow one to earn above average returns on a sustainable basis.
As you can see, the qualities of a great business will take time to build. Hence, if you are looking for a quick buck, then this might not be the right place for you. Yes, there may be opportunities allowing you to earn good returns every now and then. But without the qualities of a great business, there is no strong barrier to entry to protect against competitors. They will come in and compete away your market share and profits.
From Good To Great
Why do we want to emphasize this? Because this is more important for online businesses today than ever. There’s millions of businesses launched every year. How can you stand out from this crowd? The short answer is to have a long term strategy to differentiate yourself from the rest.
Whether you are starting an Amazon FBA or dropshipping business, it is only going to be more competitive over time. This is due to the low barrier to entry. People can start their businesses online from the comfort of their home.
Getting started is key and you may be beginning with undifferentiated products or services. However, over time you have to step up the game by adding value and create your own unique value proposition.
View online business as a long term game if you want to win. For instance, it takes time to gain traffic to your website as you add more valuable content for your audience. Yes, you can gain traffic from paid advertising, but again competition will drive up your marketing dollars.
By building an authority online through time and creating a genuine fan base, you gain an edge above your competitors. With this trust and brand but over time, you can potentially sell your products at better margins.
Therefore, while you are taking action and working on your short term goals to keep the business going, remember to always reinvest in your long term growth plan. This brings us to our final and most important point of starting your business online.
5. Getting Started With Your Online Business: Website And Email Subscribers
Start Online Business Tool 1: Website And Web Hosting
Whichever business model you have chosen for your online business, you need to remember that the most important asset is your email subscribers. Whether you are selling products or services, earning advertising dollars from your content creation, or selling courses online, your list of email subscribers is how you can reach out to your customers.
So before you do anything else, set up your website first. To do that, you need to first host your website with a third party vendor. Based on our research and experience, bluehost is the most affordable and easy to start with.
They also provide an easy setup of WordPress, which is the most used content management system to create websites. Whether you have finalized your business model or decide which niche to focus on, you should set up your web presence first.
It takes time for search engines to crawl your site. So, getting your hosting and website setup is the number one priority now.
Start Online Business Tool 2: Email Subscribers And Automation
Once your website is ready, the first thing you need is a way to capture emails from your audience. This is usually done through providing weekly newsletters or a free ebook download etc.
Based on our research and experience, Convertkit is a great software to capture emails on your website and subsequent email automation. It allows easy integration with WordPress. Once you installed the plugin on your website, you can choose various templates to insert the webforms to capture emails. They can be inserted within your blogs, on the side bar or even a pop-up form before someone leaves the site.
While building your business, you will have new metrics to track, such as web traffic and revenue target. But one thing you shouldn’t miss nor forget is to continue building on your email list. This email list allows you to sell your products or services at your will.
As you progress, pivot or even change your business model, your email list will follow you. More often than not, you will face many changes along the way, due to so much uncertainty when starting up. But you will realize that regardless of the changes in your business, you will reap tremendous value from your list.
This is unlike externally controlled platforms like facebook or youtube, which you don’t have as much control on your subscribers. Their algorithms can change from time to time. So start building your email list with Convertkit now.
We have covered the key framework when planning to start your online business. From internal reflection to finding the right business model, you are likely going to face much changes along the way.
While managing the short term target with a long term plan to differentiate your business, the most important thing to do is to have an online presence. So, get your website setup now. And more critically, start and continue to focus on building your email list.
Keep learning and grow your business 🙂
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