So you’re ready to start your online business and ditch the 9 to 5 for good but where to start? Traditional methods would have you concerned with writing your Business Plan, obtaining Funding, setting up your Company Structure and spending a fortune on Promotional Material.
While all certainly important, your first step should be in identifying your offering and then establishing whether or not you will have an audience for that offering.
Starting an online business does not have to be difficult. If you have knowledge/ a certain skills set/ products to sell and if people are willing to pay you for it or them, then you have a business.
Starting up also doesn’t have to cost much, particularly if you can work from home e.g. if you would like to work as a Freelancer – a laptop, internet connection and a small budget for marketing will see you on your way.
Step #1 – Know your Vertical
Your vertical is the industry you choose to do business in so before you dive right in get out there to see who is competing in your space and what is or isn’t working for them. Carry out a SWOT analysis on these competitors documenting their strengths and weaknesses whilst identifying areas of opportunity and particular threats for your business.
Look at what people are searching for most when they are looking for a professional in your industry. SEMRush is a good tool to help you out here. Note these keywords and utilise them in your social media profile titles and job descriptions.
Step #2 – Identify your Target Market
When taking your business online you need to know exactly who you will be selling to so that you can create or adapt your advertising campaigns/ content/ services to meet their needs. Firstly, consider what problem your proposition solves. Then look for a group of people with that problem.
Your case will become all the more compelling by showing these people the value of your proposition i.e. by demonstrating to them that the cost of not dealing with the problem is much greater than not dealing with the problem.
To find your target market, try some of the following:
- Blogs & Articles – search for any content related to your business and see who and what people are talking about.
- Forums – by joining online forums you can get immediate access to what problems and frustrations people are experiencing. Offer suggestions and add value while you are there and you may pick up a follower or two.
- Competitors – take a look at what your potential competitors are doing online and who is engaging with them.
- Social Media – you can reach out to your target audience through social media. Follow some key influencers and again check to see what seems to be working for your competitors.
Step # 3 – Create your Online Presence
Your website is your visual storefront so make it as visually pleasing and user friendly as you can. Through carefully selected keywords, content that is interesting and some eye-catching images, you should not only be able to capture your audience’s attention but also connect with them and encourage them to engage with your business.
To start you will need a domain name and somewhere to host your website. Try GoDaddy or BlueHost for both at a relatively low cost. To create your website you can use Squarespace or Wix as your Content Management System (CMS) but I would advise you to go with WordPress because of the huge variety of plugins that offer you so much more functionality. If you don’t have the time, skill or desire to do this yourself, just pay someone to do it for you.
Also, consider which social media platforms you will use to promote your business. Select the ones you feel are the best fit and are utilised by your targeted demographic.
Remember, you need to manage your online reputation carefully as leaving any of your profiles static can be damaging to your business when people cannot find what they are looking for and will not return for a second look.
Step # 4 – Start to Build your Following
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Content is King”. Well its certainly key to attracting your audiences’ attention. Good quality content on your website and social profiles is what will attract and retain a loyal following. It will not only create a great first impression of your business but by continuously updating your online channels with quality content, you will continue to attract new customers.
In turn, you will find your business start to rank better in search engines which leads to increased sales and exposure. Use your content to inspire conversions, drive engagement, inform your audience and generate a return on investment. Ensure each piece of content is created with a goal in mind and targeted to your audience.
Step # 5 – Harness the Power of Online Advertising
As the most relied upon search engine in the world with over 4,6 billion searches on a daily basis, and the biggest social platform with 90 billion users worldwide, Google and Facebook have the power to really scale your business. Both offer fantastic targeting opportunities to attract the right audience and ensure your business is getting the exposure it needs to be successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
With some carefully selected keywords and images for your ads, a budget for your ad spend (which could be as little as £5 per day) and a good strategy, you can fast-track the process and get those customers coming your way.
Remember, the key to getting your business off the ground is ACTION. Take steps every day, no matter how small. Don’t put things off until you have saved enough money or written your business plan. Start today, write your plan as you go and you come to understand your business needs better and reinvest your earnings into your business.
To your business success.
P.S. If you would like help with starting up your business online or any of the above, schedule a call with me here and lets get planning your next steps.