Gone are those days when only the privileged ones could start an online business. Nowadays, anyone can get going and start an online business and scale it up.
People don’t want to check out physical stores anymore, they would rather check out various online websites and then make a purchase decision. Having an online presence makes your business way more visible and accessible.
The eCommerce markets are proliferating rapidly. Sources suggest, by 2023, the revenue generated from eCommerce could reach the $740 billion mark, in the US alone. Figures like these prove how enormous the eCommerce market is and the great potential it holds.
Every business idea comes with a set of challenges. You need to figure that out before starting your own online business. It is always advisable to have a roadmap to make the whole process easier.
In this article, you will be reading about a 10 steps guide to make your online business ideas a reality.
10 Steps to Creating a Profitable Online Business
1. Determine Your Niche
A business niche is like a market segment that your online business will focus on or primarily cater to. It is essential that you determine your niche before starting your own online business and successfully catering to it.
To identify the right niche for your company, you will have to ask yourself questions like-
- How much will a customer pay for this product?
- What is the target market for this product?
- What problem does your product solve?
Is the product restricted to a particular gender, age bracket, and demographics?
2. Research More!
After you have narrowed down your research to a particular niche, it’s time to go deep. Once the niche is figured out, we can also have a SWOT analysis as a part of the research. The SWOT analysis will help you as an online business identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your eCommerce business.
The strengths and weaknesses are generally internal and controllable factors like:
- Company culture
- Global access
- Intellectual property
- Assets, etc.
The opportunities and threats are beyond the organization and are generally external factors like:
- Market reach
- Newly added technologies
- Rules and regulations
- Market trends, etc.
Further research will include studying the competitors in the same niche, the pricing strategies that are being used, what are the trending marketing campaigns, what kind of packaging should be used, and other such aspects.
Once the market research is done well, you can then make data-driven decisions for starting your own online business. Try and identify the gaps that your product or service is trying to fill. This will help in the development process for your product and service.
3. Choose the Right Product for Right Market
The best online startup ideas cannot become a reality without choosing the right products. Post research, it is essential that you study your target market. Who are your ideal customers? What are their distinct characteristics? What is their age?
This data will help your online business create user personas.
Proper research on your target market will help your online business solicit sales. To know your target market better here are some metrics you should research in detail:
- Demographics- The demographic data will include socio-economic characteristics like age, gender, income, and other such factors.
- Psychographics- This will include characteristics like their values, opinions, beliefs, etc.
Combining these two major aspects will help you as an online business understand your target market well.
4. Validate Your Product
Now that the research stage is done and when you know what to sell and whom to sell, it’s time we validate our product. You need to check if the product is viable enough.
Different evaluation criteria are used to determine whether the product created is viable. Two major criteria are-
You need to check which market-related factors affect your product or the business model. Some of the factors could be competitors, market size, the demand for the products, and target customers.
Product-based criteria include the potential selling price, the type of product, any seasonal factors that can affect the demand of the product, legal regulations involved, etc.
Post this analysis, you can make data-driven decisions. These criteria will help you avoid common mistakes and make optimum use of your potential.
5. How to Source the Product?
If your online business is into selling physical products, then sourcing the product is the next step. Here are a few models of making your product that you can explore while starting your own online business.
Manufacture your products-
Unlike digital products and services, physical products will require a lot of manpower and effort. The physical manufacturing process of a product will require a lot of hard work, sourcing of raw material, machinery, and labor. The costs are higher, but the quality is up to the standards that you desire.
Dropship the products-
If you don’t want to handle or manage any kind of inventory, dropshipping is the key to starting your own online business. Just partner up with a supplier or a wholesaler and you can fulfill and ship the orders.
Purchase from wholesalers-
Buying products from wholesalers would mean buying in large quantities at low prices and selling them individually at your retail store with a markup. This model makes things easier and can bring in good profit margins.
6. Make a business plan
Your research is done, the niche is picked and the target audience is determined. The next step to building an online business is having a clear roadmap and a detailed business plan that will help you streamline things and establish your goals.
A good business plan will include-
- The nature of your business
- The products or services you’re selling
- Financial models
- Revenue generating streams
- Improvements, etc.
When creating a business plan keep in mind all the major factors like target audience, investors, and stakeholders so that the document is a comprehensive compilation for everyone.
A business plan can differ from business to business but generally, this is what the contents will look like-
- Executive summary
- An overview of the company
- Market analysis
- Products and services your company has to offer
- A marketing plan
- Logistics and finances
- Operational plans
7. Pick a Name and Get the Legal Aspects Right
Pick and decide the right name for your business that catches the eye and also represents your brand values.
While picking the right name, you also need to remember that it shouldn’t be taken by someone else. The name will further have to be trademarked and registered.
A great name for your eCommerce business must be-
- Should not be taken by someone else
There are many other online business laws that you will have to study in detail while building an online business. Primarily, you will have to understand the legal structure of your business and then get started.
You could be a sole proprietor, have a partnership business, or a private limited company. Even an online store has a lot of legal aspects to study to get things right. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before moving ahead-
- Does my business need any special license? (in case of liquor)
- Are there any special permits required?
- What are the hiring laws?
Answers to these questions will help you in building an online business that is perfect from the legal view.
8. Apply for the Required Permits or Licenses
Different types of businesses require different types of permits and licenses to function and operate. For this, you will have to keep a tab on central, state, and local governments to figure out the whole process.
These could be a few types of permits or licenses that you might require-
- Trade license
- Sales tax permits
- Health or safety permits
- Environment-related permits, etc.
9. Launch your store online
The next step to your business plan is preparing for the launch. Launching an online store would mean setting up and configuring your eCommerce store. This step will be an extensive process in itself.
Choose your eCommerce platform
Looking for the best online store to start your business? Firstly, choose the right eCommerce platform. It is the foundation of a successful online business. eCommerce platforms help businesses streamline all the processes and get the business going.
They provide various features like customized catalog management, eProcurement, CRM, sales quoting software, payment gateway, etc. that can be seamlessly integrated with your store.
Go for a platform that gives you a cloud-based setup. Cloud-based platforms help you to scale your business in the future, provide stability, and are budget-friendly. Such a platform allows you to access your eCommerce store from any device directly through the internet.
Add the product images and descriptions
While adding the product images or videos along with the descriptions make sure you’re adding the most attractive ones. Catalog management software allows you to add large-sized images and videos as well. The descriptions should be optimized according to the keywords for a higher ranking and better SEO.
These details will help you in building your online business most efficiently.
10. Market your business
Once all the steps are done and your eCommerce store is up and operational, the next step is to bring more customers to it. The traffic of the website needs to go up. It’s time to tell the world about your new business.
Your research will be of a lot of use here. You can run ads and marketing campaigns according to your niche and target market. It is always a great idea to invest in multiple marketing channels, some of which could be-
You can run ads on Facebook and Instagram by allocating a budget for PPC (Pay Per Click) ads. These ads help in bringing a new audience to the platform.
Influencer marketing campaigns
Getting influencers who have a great reach on board could help your eCommerce business reach out to more people and bring in traffic.
You can set up an email contact list and keep your audience updated with new launches, promotions, or offers. This will aid in more conversions for the business.
This is the era of omnichannel presence. You have to cover maximum marketing platforms for your marketing needs. It is a boon if an eCommerce platform takes care of your SEO needs, email marketing, etc., through in-built integrations.
Starting your own online business might surely be a great idea but will not always be an overwhelming experience. You will have to go through a million trial runs, testing phases, research, and all of that.
Once your business is set up, keep the research going so that you’re always evolving for the better and are up-to-date. Just follow these 10 easy steps and trust me you’re halfway there.