STEPS TO LAUNCHING AN ONLINE BUSINESS
The following guide breaks down the process of starting an online business into manageable chunks.I will discuss all of the following points throughout every chapter in this guide; at its conclusion, you’ll know how to start and run your own ecommerce store.Here is an overview of the steps for building and starting a successful online business:
1. Find a niche.
Before you start selling, you need to find the right product with the potential for serious profitability. You’ll learn how to research different niches and even examine your own life to find problems that can be solved.
2. Evaluate market viability.
Now that you have a business idea, it’s time to dig deeper into product viability. Think about the kind of details that can make or break your business, like number of SKUs and shipping weight.
3. Conduct market research.
Validate your product using tactics such as keyword research and evaluating trending products.
4. Conduct competitive analysis.
Find out what’s working — and what can be improved upon — from your biggest competitors. This will tell you more about how to define your branding and positioning in the market.
5. Learn online business laws.
Shipping restrictions, zoning laws, and trademark considerations. These can all make or break your business. With this list, you can avoid the ecommerce landmines that derail your business before it gets off the ground.
6. Analyze your target market.
This is where you dig even deeper to understand your ideal shopper. Who are they? What do they like? How can you tailor both your product and your website experience to appeal to your perfect shopper?
7. Source your product.
You know you have the right product, who your customer is, and how to set up your business. It’s time to get the physical product. We’ll walk you through different ways to source your product and how to avoid common pitfalls.
8. Choose the right ecommerce platform.
None of the above matters if you don’t have an ecommerce store that sells your product, provides an intuitive shopping experience, and makes customers want to return. We’ll show you how to go from zero to beautiful online store in a matter of minutes using powerful ecommerce software (spoiler alert – we have a recommendation).
9. Launch your store.
You’ve got the right platform and product. Who’s ready to start getting your product in front of customers? Before you do, learn all the steps you need to take to make sure you’re prepared.
10. Drive online traffic.
Once you’ve got your store up and running, learn the leading organic traffic driving tactics to get more visitors to your store.
11. Master small business shipping.
Shipping is a big topic for brands and customers alike. Learn the reality of small business shipping as it is today and the best approach your business can take to please your customers.
12. Measuring online success.
Success is nothing without analytics to prove it. We’re here to walk you through all of the key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to pay close attention to and to best leverage your data insights.
13. Scaling your business.
At BigCommerce, we enable our business to make it big. In this chapter, we’ll walk you through how to begin planning for the next stage of growth.
14. Insights directly from the industry’s top experts.
The difference between operational and successful is in mastering man’s greatest nemesis — time. Get firsthand accounts from successful entrepreneurs who have grown their home based business into online behemoths.
ONLINE BUSINESS IDEAS YOU CAN START TODAY
1. Set up an eCommerce store
An eCommerce store allows consumers to buy goods and services online via their phone, tablet or computer through digital transactions.
The accessibility of eCommerce stores means the achievable global market reach has grown rapidly. Driving traffic to your site is your best chance at making big money: once the shop’s up and running, your focus needs to be on advertising and marketing. Shopify is a popular hosting platform for eCom providers and is in an easy way to get started.
A top tip is to offer fewer products but to aim for items with a significant markup. The success of an eCommerce store relies heavily on branding – focus on creating a strong brand with a niche target market.
2. Buy and sell websites
Buying and selling sites is the online equivalent to property. The concept is much the same: buying undervalued websites, improving them marginally and selling them on for a profit. Not only can you make money on the sale itself, but you can also make a monthly profit on top of that, making it one of the most lucrative online business options, if you get it right.
You can find websites to purchase either directly from buyers, or website brokers and marketplaces, such as FEinternational.com, Wesellyoursite.com, Flippa.com and WebsiteBroker.com, to name a few. Once you’ve bought your website, you can get to work building traffic and monetising your purchases to increase the monthly profit on them. Once you’ve maximised traffic, you can sell it – either yourself directly, or through one of the brokers mentioned.
3. Write and publish an eBook
Getting published is notoriously tricky, and even the best authors have experienced countless rejections. But the digital book market has made becoming a published author and making money a far easier venture. Anyone can self-publish an eBook and sell them on websites as big as Amazon. The best part? It’s completely free.
The most significant investment for writing and selling an eBook is the time you spend writing it. The monetary startup costs, however, are minimal. Find your niche – the smaller the niche, the better as you’ll limit your competition.
4. Start an online SaaS business
SaaS stands for software as a service. It’s a business model where customers purchase software solutions online on a subscription basis. The software is centrally hosted, meaning it is all stored and accessed on the cloud.
An online SaaS business is a fantastic option for those with knowledge of coding and building software. Similarly to membership sites, it’s a good idea to offer something for free. Usually, this is a free trial with an expiry date, or a limited version of the end product and serves as a taste or advertisement for your full, paid product.
To make money from selling software, your service must run smoothly. In the beginning, you’ll dedicate a lot of your time to fixing bugs and troubleshooting. Once you’ve got a streamlined product, the business is relatively automated; the system will automatically push updates to purchasers.
5. Make money by affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketers work with brands to increase their sales. You can do this at home by generating traffic to a merchant’s website through an affiliate link: you’ll then receive a commission on all the sales generated through your link. Commission usually sits between 5% and 20%, to be negotiated per client.
It can be a risky trade as payment depends entirely on your marketing performance: how many sales you generate and how much resulting commission you make. On the positive side, however, the startup costs are next to none – you can post your affiliate link anywhere to generate sales. If your budget allows, you can reach more people by using paid advertising.
6. Offer a 3D printing service
Starting a 3D printing business is another example of a hobby-turned-profit-maker. If you already own and have mastered a 3D printer, it’s easy to turn this into a profitable business. Prospective clients contact you with a 3D model; you print the model and post it out to them and make a mean profit.If you already own the 3D printer, then this model isn’t too expensive.
7. Create and sell handmade items
If you are the creative or artistic type, you can easily monetise your skills online. With sites such as Etsy or Not on the Highstreet, selling hand-made products has become considerably more accessible, even for absolute beginners. Other marketplaces worth considering are Artfire and Zazzle.
Another option is to create a page on a social media platform and drive sales using various channels such as a Facebook group.Start-up costs vary depending on the product you’re making. Making your products to order is slower, but prevents waste products and cuts down on initial costs.
8. Create a digital product store
What better way to profit from our technology-dependent society, than by starting a digital product store. This business runs entirely online, and the physical resources required are next to none. The biggest investment at the start will be your time.
Digital products are anything which you can download online. The lack of physical presence means minimal resources, no production costs, no storage costs. The most time-efficient and cost-efficient products you can sell are PDFs in various formats – templates, for example, offer lots of possibilities: templates for emails, CVs, cover letters, business cards, calendars. You can produce a template for almost anything and with very little information. A bit of creative flare here goes a long way – people will pay a lot of money for a professional look.
The advantage of digital products is that they can be sold relatively cheaply and are free to produce. Other examples include eBooks (recipes and ‘How to’ books are the most popular) as well as selling research and online papers. You can even sell audio files, music and videos on your store as well as fonts, logos, backgrounds. If you can download it, you can sell it!
This business model is one of the most varied and cost-effective options for making money online. Marketing needs to be your main expense – to make money your customers need to find you. After that, your products will sell themselves.
9. Create a killer app
Are you a tech wizard or coding expert? If you’ve got an extensive knowledge of coding, experience in app development and an innovative concept, you can make millions as an app developer. A quarter of iOS App developers earn over approx £3,000 a day.
An app developer’s biggest challenge is coming up with an innovative idea. There are more than two million apps available on Apple’s app store. To make big money on an app, you need to attract serious download volume. It needs to be eye-catching, peak consumer interest and be an ingenious concept. But downloads don’t always equate to money – you’ll then need to retain your customers by producing consistent content or regularly adding new features. Next, you’ll need to add paid features or subscription options, to generate money on top of the download amount.
10. Work as a freelancer online
Working as a freelancer is one of the most flexible jobs you can have, made even more accessible with the internet. Freelancers work on a contractual basis or per hour or project, most work from home and for the hours and times they choose. If you’ve got the skills and the equipment, it’s an almost immediate way to start making money.
It’s a simple concept: capitalise on any specialist skill you may have and turn it into a commercial service. It can be anything from web design to business consultancy or translation. You can monetise almost any skill. Finding customers is also more accessible than ever with websites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, where freelancers can advertise their services and their prices.