How to Start Your Own Online Business from Scratch
Starting your own business is not easy, but it’s possible! Whether you want to start an online or brick-and-mortar business, there are some steps you can take to get started on the right foot. In this article, we’ll talk about the first steps to starting your own business from scratch and how to best prepare yourself before you jump in headfirst. Consider this your guide to starting your own business!
How to Start Your Own Online Business from Scratch
Decide on your business niche
Starting your own business is a serious undertaking, so take your time and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Before you even think about writing a business plan or developing a marketing strategy, first answer these two questions: Who do I want to serve? And how am I going to reach them? If you already have an idea of who will be purchasing from you, it makes everything else that much easier. The more specific you can be in answering these questions, the better off your business will be. Take some time today and think about who your customers are and how they purchase what they need/want. Once you've answered those key questions, you're ready to start your online business! This process may seem overwhelming at first, but after speaking with potential clients (if applicable) and reading up on the competition in your industry, it'll become clearer. It's important not to rush through any step here; take some time at each stage to make sure all of your bases are covered—even if it means taking several months before making any sort of public announcement about launching your website.
Choose your website name
Choose a name that’s memorable and reflective of your brand, but also makes sense for search engine optimization (SEO). You want your website name to be short—no more than three words, in fact. The first word or two should be short and descriptive, with a keyword or phrase that sums up what you do. For example, Advertising Agency SF is a great business name because it includes both of those elements. It’s short and specific—and anyone in San Francisco will immediately know exactly what you do and who you serve. SEO benefits: You get free exposure in Google searches as Google places well-known names at the top of its results pages. That said, choose a name that comes off as professional instead of gimmicky. For example, No More Couch Potato might sound funny—but it doesn’t convey an image of expertise or professionalism. Instead, consider something like getting Fit Faster, which leads with a benefit instead of humor and conveys expertise through precise language and numbers: Get fit faster by following these 5 expert tips... To make things even easier on searchers, include phrases like San Francisco catering company in your name so it appears when people type terms related to your business into Google. All types of businesses can leverage SEO; blogging makes it easier because you add keywords directly into posts.
Create and publish your website
Having a website is an important part of starting a business, regardless of whether it’s brick-and-mortar or online. That’s because people will look for your company online before they go anywhere else. If you don’t have a website, or if your site looks like it was built by a child with Windows Paint, then it’s time to start learning how to make and maintain a good website. The right online business will include an easy-to-navigate, professional-looking site that showcases both your products and services in addition to (hopefully) solving some problems for your customers. With simple instructions and tons of tutorials on YouTube and other sites, there’s no reason not to create something even if you have zero experience.
Register your business
When you decide to start a business, it’s important that you register your business. You may want or need: To get loans from banks or other financial institutions; To hire employees; To rent office space; Or for legal protection and liability. Registering your business with government agencies can help you gain these protections. It is critical to understand what legal requirements there are in your country/state before registering your company. However, there are some ways of starting a business while keeping costs low and simplifying what you have to do at first (for example, by registering as an LLC rather than going through all of the red tape required by formal incorporation).
There are many types of businesses, but most fall into one of three categories: sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Whether you go into business on your own (as a sole proprietor), with friends or family members (as a general partner), or bring in investors (to create an LLC) depends on several factors.
Set up a PayPal account
PayPal is one of our favorite payment gateways for online businesses. It makes it easy for customers to give you money, and you can withdraw your earnings directly into your bank account. If you’re going with a pre-existing business model, set up an account before launching, and make sure your business name is on file. That way, if PayPal flags your business as fraudulent (which they do automatically), you can work things out quickly and start taking payments right away. You should also decide how much control over customer data you want—you can choose whether PayPal will have access to customer information or only transaction details, like how much a particular customer spends in a given period of time. Take note that when setting up a new business, you are agreeing to their terms of service. In return, however, you get great features: PayPal pages accept every major credit card via secure authorization; users get high-resolution digital receipts, and there’s no need for any additional merchant accounts in order to accept cards.
Create an e-commerce solution with Shopify
Shopify is a good tool for e-commerce beginners because you can use it to set up your store in just a few minutes. Plus, Shopify comes with built-in payment processing, so you don’t have to worry about getting that set up on your own. You can choose between three plans—Basic, Unlimited, and Premium—and all of them offer 24/7 support. The Basic package costs $29 per month, while Unlimited goes for $79 per month, and Premium is $299 per month. Shopify accepts all major credit cards.
Set up and market your store using Google Ads
One of the best ways to market your products and services is by using Google Ads. It's quick, cost-effective, and can help drive more traffic towards your business. However, a lot of people struggle with exactly how they're supposed to set up an AdWords account as well as what they're even supposed to be doing when they create one. Luckily, it's all pretty simple once you get started (and we've got some tips on how you can do that below). All in all, just remember that Google Ads are a quick way for businesses to reach new customers online—and you don't need much time or technical expertise before you can get started using them.
List your products on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc.
In addition to having your own e-commerce website, consider listing products on other online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. On these sites, you’ll be competing with lots of other sellers for attention, so you’ll want to make sure your listings are top-notch and get noticed. Diversify as much as possible; if Target won’t sell a product for you then try Amazon or eBay instead. In fact, that's how I started selling on Amazon in 2007! What a great learning experience... how many people can say they were selling crap on Amazon back in their early 20s? 👍😁📈
Set up your bank accounts
This will allow you to track expenses and income, as well as set up automatic payments for any bills you have. Even if your business doesn’t have a lot of moving parts initially, it’s always good to get in the habit of tracking your spending habits. If you want people to be willing to pay for what you offer—and trust me, they will—you need them to feel comfortable giving you their hard-earned money. It all starts with a solid accounting system that won’t take longer than 10 minutes a week. Plan on being fully set up within a month.
Work towards Tax Season Success!
February 15, 2019—the day you’ve been waiting for all year. It’s Tax Day and that means one thing: time to start planning for next year! With Tax Season on everyone’s mind, we wanted to share some tips for starting your business in a way that makes tax season easier. If you set up a separate business bank account and establish it as self-employed, you might be able to reduce your taxes at tax time! Then, when it comes time to do your taxes each year, all of your receipts are stored safely in one place instead of spreading across multiple credit cards or checking accounts. Having a special bank account also makes reporting income and deductions much simpler.
No matter what industry you’re in, running a business is both a science and an art. Successful entrepreneurs are constantly learning how to improve their business models and adapt them according to market demands. Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or have already made your first sale, it pays to keep an open mind about new strategies and opportunities that come along your way. Whatever stage of entrepreneurship you’re at, these resources will help get you on track with ideas for increasing revenue and profit, staying on budget, keeping up with regulations, identifying areas for improvement, and more. Best of luck on your path toward success!