[A Complete Guide] How to Start Online Business
This guide is a proven methodology to start online business and make it successful.
So, if you are an upcoming E-commerce store owner, or planning to build an online store in the near future, or want to revamp your existing store, this online store setup step-wise tutorial is for you.
Success in online business is possible if only, you plan things ahead of time, act as per the latest trends and market requirements, pay attention to aspects like SEO and marketing, and execute the below steps meticulously.
Meetanshi is an E-commerce solutions providing company that offers Magento extensions and Magento development services, and this guide is a gist of years of experience that has led to the company’s success today. In a way to give back to the community, here, I’m sharing the tips followed for our online store’s success.
Top Tips for Starting An Online Business:
- Decide the type of business and niche
- Gauge your idea
- Choose a brand name and logo
- Select the correct platform to build your website
- Choose the hosting company
- Develop a functional store with a simple yet attractive design
- Add a personal touch
- Make it easier for potential customers to contact you
- Work on your Email list
- Design your SEO strategy
- Plan a content marketing strategy
- Explore the potential of social media
- Work on the website’s performance
- Social Proof to Win the Customers
- Show your expertise
- Integrate Accounting Software
- Multichannel Sales
Steps to start online business:
Decide the type of your business and the niche
The first and foremost step is to decide the type of business to start.
With modern technology and tools, it is possible to grow your online business, be it E-commerce, Saas, online news, blogs, online service, or even online coaching! There are no boundaries to offer what you are an expert at and monetize your talent.
The one thing you need to do is fix your niche. Find your business niche, an idea that can be set up online to profit from the same. As such, there is no scale or study that can measure the success beforehand but you ought to take a risk in the business.
However, a calculative risk can bring money. Decide a niche by keeping in mind your expertise, market demand as well as your passion!
You can also take your existing brick and mortar business online. You are already an expert with the field and know your product in and out. All you have to do is take it online to global customers!
Gauge your idea
Is your idea any good for an online setup? Is it worthy to take online and capable of returning a fortune?
Do not just jump right into setting up the online store. It is important to evaluate your idea. Doing so, it will give you a direction and a general idea of prevailing online trends in your niche.
And for that, you can:
- Perform a Google search
- Social media search on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.
- Checkout competitors in that niche
- Look into exact and wider keywords that are popular
- Check the renowned marketplaces selling similar products
- Do an Amazon search!
Choose a brand name and logo
Now comes the most exciting part of the startup setup and that’s deciding the brand name and the logo.
Get this step right and you are on people’s talk every now and then. You can take time out with your team and ponder over the emotional association you want with your brand. Be it power, feminity, etc. At this point, you can note down the gist of the discussion to frame the brand guidelines in future.
Concluding with the brand name can make it clear for you to design the mascot and the logo. Also, register your domain once the brand name is decided.You can consider these points while deciding the brand name:
1. It must be readable
2. It must be catchy, short, and easy to remember.
3. Keyword-included name can be helpful!
Create a logo that can reflect the brand motto or the niche. However, there is no rule as such for designing the logo. One can also make use of an advanced logo maker will be helpful in designing a captivating emblem for your business without making efforts from scratch.
Remember, your brand name or logo is only the first step in building a strong, memorable brand. There’s still a long way to go.
Select the correct platform to build your website
Magento, Shopify, Woocommerce, OpenCart……A long list from which you have to choose the perfect one for your store!
It can be confusing to choose from so many options and that too the one which is best suitable for your business. If you are new to CMS platforms, you can go through the comparison guides like Magento vs Shopify, Shopify vs Woocommerce, and much more available out there.
Definitely a tough task but not if you check the pros and cons of each and then take a calculative decision. At Meetanshi, the experts and developers in the field of E-commerce recommend Magento 2 and there are reasons for the same. However, you also need to consider factors like your budget, the size of the website that you plan to build, the complexity level that you can handle, the developers hiring availability, sample business plan, etc.
Choose the hosting company
Every online store requires hosting. And if you are just starting the venture, it is too costly for you to host your own website and hence you need an external host which will provide the server to store your data for the visitors to access all the time.
Depending on the requirements and budget, you can choose a shared or dedicated server. There are certain points to keep in mind while deciding your hosting partner such as security, performance, server location, cost, and reviews. Worldwide, there are over 330,000 web hosting providers as per Hostingtribunal. It can be a tough task to decide one but a calculative decision can help in the long run.
You can read this related post that discusses the factors to keep in mind while choosing the hosting and some of the best Magento hosting providers.
Develop a functional store with a simple yet attractive design
Now is the time to start the real action!
If you are a developer, start the development of the features that will ease customers’ shopping process or hire a developer to develop them for you.
Make sure of the small details. Check every button, link, banner, cart functions, products, categories, everything continuously. Test each functionality. It must not be the case that a visitor will abandon your store due to some technical glitch.Moreover, pay attention to the design of the store. Design it as per the niche but do not over complicate the layout that may confuse the visitor and frustrate him to that level that he/she abandons your store.
A simple design with all the functionalities in place is a kick start to your store development process.
Add a personal touch
Add your face. People will trust a person more than a company.
A human face helps create a connection with the potential customer that will help in the customer engagements and boost conversion! Moreover, people can easily remember you, trust you, and even interact with you.
Doing so sets you apart from the competitor.You can also share an authentic story in this phase that can add emotion and attract customers. But, its effectiveness depends on your niche.
Make it easier for potential customers to contact you
Make sure to update the social media profiles and link them to your website. People will want to find out about you and what others are talking about you from your network. They would want to check your brand’s social media profiles.
Also, update the email IDs and the contact page appropriately and make them display clearly on your site for people to find your contact details easily.
Such details help in establishing your brand as trustworthy, the one that is ready to give answers, acknowledge users’ issues and address them with their products or services!
Work on your Email list from day 1
Grow your email list!
You might be wondering that in the age of social media marketing, are Emails effective?
Here are the statistics from HubSpot that will solve your doubts:
93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content.
73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
99% of consumers check their email every day.
80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention.
There is no exaggeration to say that Emails have been and is an effective sales channel. Focus on it and get people to sign up for your newsletters!
You can try the exit popups, offer free ebooks in email, or simply a subscribe button at the appropriate place.
The choice is yours!
Design your SEO strategy
Work for organic traffic from search engines. Check if your on-page SEO is in place. If you are a Magento 2 store owner, this guide might help you.
Also, take time out for off-page SEO and technical SEO. If your SEO strategy is in the right direction, the search engines will reward those efforts with better SERPs. It will make it easier for people to find your store on relative keywords.
Plan a content marketing strategy
Few things go hand in hand while building an E-commerce store. And the content strategy is one of them. It is a part of your marketing strategy. Be ready with your content outline, what type of content is going to be your cornerstone content or pillar content, how you are going to invest in a blog, in what form of content are you going to focus in order to get the most out of as per your niche.
For example, which content works best for you, is it blog posts, videos, or simply your product description is written carefully to convince the user that his/her life is incomplete without your product!
Content is king!The power of content can be known from these statistics by Hubspot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report that says, almost 70% of businesses are actively investing in content marketing in 2020.
Make sure your business does not lag behind. Do all that is needed for your content writing and marketing efforts to be in place right from the initial stage of a website.
Explore the potential of social media
In 2019, an estimated 2.95 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 3.43 billion in 2023 as per Statista.
This is an INDICATOR!!!
Social media with such a huge audience carries much potential market in it. Find a suitable social media platform for your niche and start working on it.For example, if your target audience is women, make sure you keep your Pinterest profile is up to date, if your target audience is people between 19-25 age group, do not miss out of Snapchat, and for B2B businesses, LinkedIn is gold.
Build your brand, increase the traffic, and boost customer engagement as well as conversion through social media activity.
Work on the website’s performance
Speed is now a landing page factor for Google Search and Ads – Addy & Ilya from GooglePinterest increased search engine traffic and sign-ups by 15% when they reduced perceived wait times by 40%. – Pinterest Engineering BlogDo I need to say anything more!
Yes, I would guide you to speed up Magento 2 store if that’s relatable for you as a Magento 2 store owner.
Speed is a crucial factor for conversion rate and search engine optimizations.So do not ignore it because even if you have a beautiful, functional website with the best quality products and support, your potential customers are not going to wait for you.
Social Proof to Win the Customers
You can use social proof to increase the conversion rate in the online store.
Wikipedia defines social proof as,
“A psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behaviour in a given situation.”You can leverage this tactic by making it easy for the customers to convert who are worried about their purchase decision.
During a November 2019 survey of U.S. online customers, 91 per cent of respondents agreed that positive reviews made them more likely to use a business. – Statista
So, work on this aspect by asking customers to leave a review, collaborating with an influencer, acquiring a valued certificate, etc.
Show your expertise
Participate in online communities in your niche. Be active on platforms like Reddit, Quora, and other forums to answer niche audiences queries and help them solve their niche issues.
Doing so will benefit you in multiple ways. When you’ll repeatedly solve various niche issues, you can establish yourself as an expert in that niche. People would want to do business with an expert! The additional benefit is branding!
Such small efforts can give a boost to your brand which is much needed in the initial phase!
Integrate Accounting Software
Accounting is very crucial for recording financial transactions in any business. It is quite useful for preparing financial statements. You can make use of various accounting software for managing the tasks more easily and quickly. It helps you to track the income and expenditures, create a budget, and to carry out future projections.
Almost all businesses have started to switch to accounting automation systems. The key benefit of using such software is that it allows business owners to track financial transactions and get financial reports ready in no time.
If you are a Magento 2 user and are willing to improve the accounts and finance of the Magento 2 store then, Meetanshi’s Magento 2 Quickbooks Online Integration extension helps by integrating one of the leading accounting software, QuickBooks Online with Magento 2. This extension is quite useful for the vendors that help to automatically sync all data from Magento to Quickbooks.
Integrating this software improves productivity and even helps to gain visibility about a company’s financial health, so as to make decisions appropriately.
Additionally, with Quickbooks Online accounting software, you can use Magento 2 QuickBooks Payments extension to capture secure online payments in Magento 2 store by integrating the Quickbooks payment gateway.
It is crucial to market and offer your products on various platforms for any E-commerce business, as it helps to attract a large number of potential clients. Not limiting to just your online store for business but exploring all the channels for marketing and selling is called omnichannel marketing and multichannel approach to sales.
Omnichannel marketing refers to a multichannel approach to sales that helps in improving traffic and conversion rates whether they are shopping online via your site or some other platform. It is an essential solution for people who want to reach a broader audience.
With roughly 2.85 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2021, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide as per Statista. With such a huge audience, Facebook has the best potential to reach the potential audience and if you are a Magento 2 store owner, things become easy with Magento 2 Facebook Store Integration extension!
Other platforms that you can explore for your online businesses are Pinterest if your target audience is women, snapchat for teenagers target audience, Instagram, and niche-specific marketplaces.
You can explore these platforms based on the type of your business and offer your products there also in addition to setting up your online store.
That’s all for now!
I hope this guide helps you with your brand new online store.
I’ll keep updating this list with the latest trends and technology that will help an upcoming store owner.
For now, you can follow this list for guaranteed success! Also, if you have any questions or suggestions regarding online startup business when it comes to SEO or marketing, do mention them in the Comments section below.
I’d be happy to guide you.
Also, keep sharing this tutorial via social media to help the E-commerce store owners!
All the best!