I have had lots of friends who want to start a profitable online business, but they get all confused with all those different terms associated with online businesses. They get confused about where to start and how to go about it. They hear about how people can earn lots of money from their online businesses and this motivates them to invest some capital and start a business. But then they hear that investing a lot is no guarantee for high earnings and get disillusioned, which is natural since no business person would be willing to lose all their money on an idea that won’t work. This leads them to think that online business is not for them.
The problem is that they think that an online business is far different from traditional forms of business. The real concept of online business escapes them. Most of them do not see how they can do a comparison between online businesses and traditional forms of business. But truly, looking at the ultimate plan, objectives, and goals of an online business you find that they are almost the same with that of other businesses. It is only the medium that is different.
In this article I will not share how to officially start an online business, I will simply focus on the pre-planning stage and pre-action you might need to consider or take and how similar online and offline business concepts are.
To avoid all the confusion and make things easier, lets remove the term “online” from online business. Now we just have a business. Now write down all the points about what you will basically need to start your business. Your points may look like this:
- Market research and survey
- Business name
- Business registration
- Office/shop space
- Interior designer
These are the basic needs for starting a small business. A big business may have additional needs such as hiring a financial adviser, a business planner, etc. but let’s stick to small business for now. Now that we have outlined the basic needs for starting a business, let us add back the term online and see how it compares. A startup online business will require:
- Online market research and survey
- Online business name
- Online business registration
- Online office/shop space
- Online interior designer
- Online products
- Online staff
Now, let me briefly look into each of these startup needs:
Online Market Research and online survey
Whether you want to run an online business or an offline business, in both cases the business owner is human and so are the customers. So ultimately, the psychology of sellers, customers, and consumers will be basically the same. What you need to do now is conduct market research to identify market needs and find out which products are selling great through online and which ones aren’t. Find out the demographics about your target market such as average age, gender, and location. Conduct research on your competitors and find out what they are doing. Research on the product you want to sell and its suitability to the market.
In the traditional business model, you will need to go out and complete your survey or research. You might need to visit offices, markets, and homes to gather the information you require for your survey. But with an online business, you can complete your survey by using any of the available survey and research tools. You do not need to go outside, you can conduct your survey and research through email and social media. As you can see, the basic concept remains the same but you are now saving on time, costs, and amount of work required for the market research and survey.
Online Business Name
Your business name is your identity and it does not matter whether it is an online business or offline. However, when it comes to business names for online businesses you have to take into consideration one additional factor, search engines. Actually it’s not the only fact of choosing the business name so do not make it the center of your focus. When you focus on branding, then you can slightly ignore search engine factors during business name selection. You will have other factors that you can use to make your business search engine friendly.
Online Business Registration:
In online business, online business registration can be called domain registration so don’t let the term confuse or intimidate you. When registering a domain name, it is important to note that you will not be able to use a name that has already previously been used. Most domain providers will suggest alternate names or different extensions. For instance, I used godaddy to purchase my domain and they usually suggest other extensions aside from dot com. Nevertheless, I highly recommend you use the dot com extension. If your desired business domain name is already taken, you can try changing the name a little bit and see which one is available.
See Also: How to Choose an Impressive Domain Name
One important point, make sure your domain name is the same as your business name, otherwise it will look unprofessional.
Online Office / Shop Space:
In an offline business, you will rent out a shop or some office space in a particular building. With an online business, your website is your office space or shop and the web host is the shop/office building. Just as in an offline business where you need to find a suitable space to run your business effectively, in an online business you will need a reliable host. You can try hostgator, godaddy, or bluehost though I recommend hostgator since from experience I know they have live support option that offers exceptional service and their affiliate program works well for passive earning.
Online Interior Designer:
I know the term online interior decorator seems funny and may wrongly give the idea that I am talking of an interior decorator that can be found online. When it comes to online business, your interior decorator is your web developer, programmer, and graphic designer. These professionals will provide you with a great looking online office or shop and can even include a check-out counter (e-commerce point of sale) to run your business efficiently.
Products for Online Sale:
I really don’t have to stress much on this point because any product you want to sell will be treated same as in an offline business. For instance, if you want to sell shoes, you will have to be competitive in terms of shoe quality, pricing, etc. However, you should keep in mind that in an offline shop your customers get to see the shoes, try them on, and ask questions. Therefore, in your online shop you have to upload the best and most attractive products to grab your target market’s attention. Additionally, you can add as much information about your products. For instance, for the shoe business you can add details such as material used, size, color, etc.
Your online store is a 24 hour store and the owner cannot manage it all. You will need some help and may need to hire staff to handle customers, process orders, receive payments, do your accounting, and manage your general business administration. Luckily, when it comes to staff, online businesses have a great advantage in that if you cannot afford to hire human staff you can have electronic staff. These are various tools that will help you handle your communication, your order processing, your payment processing, your accounting, and your general business management. For example, you can have an autoresponder which will send a standard message to clients who contact you informing them that you will contact them soon with the desired information. You can also have offline and online chatting tools to communicate with clients. Your invoices and payments can be automatically handled by payment processors such as PayPal instead of hiring a human cashier to man your point of sale 24 hours a day. As your business grows, then you can involve more personnel to your business to operate various business roles.
As you can see, all these things are very similar to any operations required for an offline business. You simply need to have some basic knowledge about online media and then you are good to go. You can now easily start your online money-making business. Still confused! read Who Can Start an Online Business, and subscribe to my Free newsletter, because I will have more tricks to share.
Have a nice day, cheers.