You are thinking about starting your online business, and since you are reading this article, you most probably have more questions than answers. And we totally understand why.

Google-ing “How to Start Your Online Business” will get you more than 1.5 billion results. So let’s shed some light to help you take the first steps towards going digital.

Here are 5 main points you should pay attention to before creating an online business.

1. Get your business structure right

Every business starts with an idea and a plan.

  • Define your idea and your product niche, identify a market need and evaluate its viability for your product or service
  • Do your research and analyze competition: how compelling are their products and their descriptions? What specific things have they done that draw you in? What is their business model: do they sell through an existing marketplace or not? How easy is it to navigate through the site? Find your unique selling points to make a difference.
  • Identify your target clients and their needs, based on your research
  • Draft a business strategy and a marketing plan

Once you’ve collected your research, think very carefully about how you can avoid the pitfalls you’ve seen and replicate the good aspects, while giving your eCommerce site a distinctive touch. Don’t just copy someone else – otherwise, what reason would anyone have to come to you? And don`t forget: it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

2. Create a website or an online store

Your online presence is like a business card today. At the same time, having an online presence can make or break a business, especially for small business owners. While it’s true that many small businesses don’t have a lot of resources or time to spend developing a website, the advantages are worth the pursuit: you will gain a wider audience, build relationships and customer trust.

Depending on your budget, type of business and level of expertise, you need to decide which tools you need to build and develop your store. The good news is that there are a lot of great apps, platforms and systems already out there that cover every part of this journey, from template selections and website builders to building newsletters and analyzing your campaigns through to handling payments and acting as an online store. There is no need to build everything from scratch. The tricky part is choosing the right technology providers and partners. Most important are the two components that your customers will interact with the most: your eCommerce platform, and your payment processor. More on this topic here.

Also, you should absolutely put together your website with mobile in mind. In other words, you shouldn’t just create a responsive site that looks okay on mobile, but rather design it for mobile. Nowadays, if your website is not optimized for mobile, then you are losing your chance to engage with a big audience. Almost two-thirds of the world’s 7.6 billion inhabitants now have a mobile phone, as the 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite shows.

Below are some resources for creating an online store:

3. Do not underestimate the power of social media

You are what you tweet. With the digital landscape changing so fast, social media is gaining more importance. This is the perfect tool to grow the users’ interest in your business, project or personal brand. You might have the best content in the world. And yet, an online article by itself is not going to be read unless it is shared on social media. Also, not all content is suitable for every social media platforms and not every social media channel will be relevant for your business.

Join a conversation and share your opinion on topics relevant to your business. Share content that is optimized for different such platforms. This will make you a reliable brand that cares about the audience.

Here is a good starting point in your decision on suitable social media platforms for your business:

Also, once you find out what relevant social media channels are in your market, you can start placing ads and promotions, too. For example, in much of Asia, Facebook is virtually synonymous with the Internet: people use it to source all their info, so they are more likely to engage with your marketing materials there than finding you through a Google search.

4. Boost your marketing efforts

There is a lot to learn from your audience. Due to lack of resources, time and money, most small enterprises need to cover every aspect of their business. This usually leaves little time to be invested in digital marketing efforts.

When it comes to marketing your online business, understanding your customers – their needs, their journey, the language they use and their interests beyond your product or business – is vital. But figuring out what makes them tick is only half the battle. You then have to be savvy enough to translate that into a coherent strategy that keeps them on track, all the way to where you both want to end up.

Before you can figure out how to market effectively, you need to know who you’re marketing to and how they behave. In marketing-speak, this means you need to create detailed buyer personas and then map out the buyer’s journey.

Explore this topic further by downloading our free eGuide here.

5. Analyze, analyze, analyze

In data we trust. When it comes to your business, you not only need to know that you’re growing, you also need to know what’s causing that growth, so that you can keep nurturing it in just the right way. This is where analytics comes in.

Without reliable analytics on the performance of your eCommerce site, your marketing efforts, your visitors and your customers, you’re basically blind. The good news is that there are many different tools you can use to track every element of your business. They will give you some clear direction on where you are and what you need to improve. Below you can find 2 lists with useful suggestions:

Why do so many companies fail?

You will be told that most businesses fail. You will be constantly reminded of the many failed business statistics quoted all over the Internet. For example, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that nearly 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, while almost 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year. Finally, 30% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business.

And why you should NOT be amongst them

Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty ahead of you. And yes, the best resource is yourself – continuous research and testing will help you in defining the right approach and a feasible direction.

Put feedback into action, develop a willingness to learn and adapt as you go, spotting the most profitable opportunities and capitalizing on them fast. And once you find the right mix for your strategy, it will put you on the road to online business success. The most important step is to get started.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Is eCommerce your choice? Get into more details on how to start and grow with an eCommerce business by downloading our free eGuide.