Everyone dreams of starting their own business; after all, the appeal is certainly there – you get to actually own the business, watch your business make others happy, be your own boss, and make your own hours.
With that dream, however, I know that everyone also knows that starting your own business – especially online – is a difficult endeavor, and so many of us have seen shows revolving around either helping or showcasing failed businesses that we’re anxious about even trying because we don’t want that to be us.
I get it, it can be daunting. Starting an online business doesn’t have to be that way, however. It will still be hard work, sure, but I’m here to give you some tips and pointers that you can use to start your own business and be successful in doing so. Let’s get started!
Have A Plan
As with any huge project or undertaking, it helps to have a plan in place. How many people on those shows I mentioned above just dove in head first without thinking of what they might do once it’s opened? Sure, having an idea of what you want to sell is great, but what about the more intricate side of things? How do you want it to run? What do you want to convey to your clientele? How do you plan to budget to keep it from sinking? Having a list of things that need to be done and budgeting and setting goals and standards for yourself and the online store should be your very first priority when thinking about starting your online business.
Once you’ve got your plan in place and an idea of what you want to sell or specialize in, before you even set about starting on your website, you need to get to know your potential client base. Conducting a thorough market research for your particular niche is a perfect way to do this. You get to see what things are trending, what people look for most often, and how to properly market to your customers. You can even look at online businesses that specialize in the same or similar niches to yours to see how they do things, and that can help you get an idea of how to proceed. I’m not at all saying copy their business model – a successful business will never thrive off of the regurgitation of an already established business model. What I am saying is take inspiration from this. What makes them successful, and how can you put your own spin on it?
Set Your Domain And Start Your Business
These are listed together because they sort of go hand in hand. You’ll want to choose your sites domain name (this is the part of your network address that will identify it as part of your domain, or your site, making it yours) and make sure it’s available. Once you’ve set that up, you can start the process of setting up your site and starting your business. To get this set up, you have two choices: outsource this to a professional, to whom you’ll hand your site and the outline for your business, who will put everything into place for you properly; or you can choose to find a guide online that will help you do it yourself. This can be rewarding on its own, but make sure you follow the guide and do it properly if you go this route. Everyone understands that sometimes bugs happen online, but if your page is constantly a hassle to navigate, you won’t keep people around for long.
After everything is set up and you’re ready to start, there’s one last thing to do: Make it legal. First, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t need a business license to operate. Most places don’t require a license for online businesses because it’s owned and operated within the home, but some areas are beginning to see it as a viable source of revenue, so it’s best to check with your community to make sure. Next, you’ll want to get an IRS Tax ID number, which you can get on the IRS website. This is basically just an ID that will identify your business to help you do business with your clientele and other companies. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to start!
Stay On Top Of Things
The market for goods and services are constantly changing in the world, and it’s no different online. Keeping a constant check on new trends and things happening not just within your niche but in any other specialization is a great way to make sure you’re keeping up with the times and don’t fall so far behind that you can’t catch up. This takes a lot of research done fairly frequently, but you’ll be glad you took the time to do so. Keep an especially close eye on your business itself; this will help you not only stay on top of your revenue and expenses, but also give you a good idea of what items or services are selling better than others and the times in which these spike occur, so you can adjust accordingly throughout the year. This will seem overwhelming for a while, but don’t give up. Once you get into the swing of things and learn how everything works, you’ll have a much better feel for it, and in many cases learn to anticipate a change before it happens.
Numbers aren’t a strong suit for all of us, I understand. However, understanding and managing your expenses is a very important step in keeping your business open and thriving. Know what’s coming in and what you’re spending on inventory, and how those two numbers coincide. There are a couple ways to keep up with it, the first, easiest, and most expensive of which is to hire someone to handle your expenses for you. Of course, being a new business owner doesn’t much allow for that, and even if it did, programs exist that allow you to manage your expenses yourself, if only you take the time to learn. You can keep a spreadsheet in Excel with money in and money out and set it up to calculate the differences for you. If the total in is greater than the total out, you’re making a profit. If this becomes a burden after a while (because you’ll be making more eventually and keeping up with entering everything can be a lot to manage), you can invest in a bookkeeping program like QuickBooks to help yourself out a little.