The 2020 crisis has been, among many things, a great catalyst. It deepened and accelerated many changes and one of the most notable was the strengthening and widespread increase of online sales.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development(UNCTAD), in 2020 the consumption per capita fell but, in contrast, online business and ecommerce increased by 6 to 10 percentage points for a wide range of commercial and service activities.
“The 2020 crisis pushed us into a more digital world, causing changes in consumer behaviors and it is almost certain that these consumer behaviors will prevail beyond the pandemic.”
The invitation is clear: online business is the future and although it is not an easy path, the right advice and support will always be within reach. In this short post, let’s talk about the key aspects to consider when starting an online business.
Related Post: How to Start a Business in the United States?
Key aspects to starting an online business
From choosing the right niche to gaining a presence on the web; from knowing what people are looking for to the different options to achieve sustainability, there’s a lot to consider when starting and managing an online business. But let’s not get overwhelmed, the toughest race starts with small but firm steps. Let’s see:
Key 1: Find a niche and cover a need
Many think that an online business is to take a product and then try to sell it on the web.
That may be the most basic thing about ecommerce, but to ensure success and permanence, you must first focus on the need for a niche that catches your attention and then structure a business around solving that need.
How? Through the web.
- Visit online forums, blog and social media comments and try to find patterns of common gaps or problems.
- Analyze: What questions are people asking? What are their complaints? What problem do they expose? and what answers they are finding.
- Extract the “keywords” for that potential business idea.
- Research those keywords on the web and look what’s on the market, evaluate. Who is your competition?
- Visit the websites of those potential competitors and reflect on how they are responding to the gaps and problems already identified.
- Now look: what can be improved? What will you offer that’s different? What will be your differentiating elements?
- You are already on the path to create an online business, to the extent of your capabilities, that will cater to a specific niche with which you identify yourself.
Don’t miss our resource “Thinking about entrepreneurship? Define which type of business suits you best”
Key 2: Get your ideas in order
Planning is the key to success in every business. So, if you already have a sketch of a service or product, its differentiating elements and a prospect of “buyer,” it’s time you put it all in writing.
How? Following the structure of a business plan. In addition to what has been said above, you will add the description of your competition, your work team, their roles and the estimate of each of the expenses or investment required to start your online business and make it sustainable over time.
Key 3: Design your own website
An online business does not exist without the Internet, a basic step will be the construction of your small space on the web.
And here’s another key: simplicity! You must convey a message in a few words, your site has 5 seconds to convince that you offer solutions, otherwise potential customers will leave and will not come back.
There’s a lot to do to start a website, but the fundamental basics are:
- Reserve a domain name
- Hire a hosting service
- Learn how to manage a content manager tool (CMS)
- Set up multiple payment methods.
When it comes to building and formatting a website for an online business, Entrepreneur.com offers these simple tips:
- Always keep a white background on your templates and presentations
- Always keep a white background on your templates and presentations
- Clear and simple navigation
- “No more than 2 clicks between a lead and payment”
- You’ll use graphics, audio, and video only if they reinforce the message or purchase intent
- Always have a “subscription” button through which you collect emails
- The more payment options are available the better.
Key 4: Attract traffic to your site
Your service will be unique, well planned; your website is simple and extraordinary, but if you don’t attract traffic, you don’t exist! Your content should be original and designed with your niche or “buyer” in mind, and it must also take into account SEO positioning tactics.
These are the metrics that Google and other search engines rely on to show your site on their results pages, so you probably need to hire agencies or editors who know these techniques.
Additionally, there is SEM and the “pay-per-click advertising” which are a shortcut to attract traffic to a new online business.
Just as your site seeks to sell a service or product, hundreds and thousands of other sites sell advertising and that’s where a good “PPC ad” will bring you traffic right away. About this, Entrepreneur.com makes reference to Richard Stokes’ resource: “the ultimate pay-per-click advertising guide”.
Key 5: Know in detail the laws and impositions for online business
Name rights, trademark considerations, patents, taxes, zoning laws, shipping restrictions, among other regulatory aspects, become a real “mined ground” that you’ll have to navigate.
Non-compliance with legal aspects can be costly and it may be ominous for any venture. Therefore, you will need to delve into your research, you can start by consulting official sources such as the Usa.gov portal, the SBA, or the IRS.
Key 6: Take advantage of social media and email marketing
There is no more powerful gallery for any online business than social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest. Create a personal or business account in all of them and become an active user in all media where your leads or buyers can be found.
Create “value content” and distribute it across the networks: articles, videos, infographics, brochures, or any other material associated with your business that people find useful, and make sure that the “share” or “send to a friend” option is always available.
On the other hand, email marketing is another very valuable resource; with it you will have an easy, economical, effective and always open channel to your most loyal customers or followers.
Start an online business – to finish
Are you going to start an online business? Or have been already dabbling for some time and you feel that your expectations are not met? Make a quick review and see what you can apply or improve accordingly.
At GBS Group, we know the hard work, dedication, diligence and proceedings needed to create, manage and grow a successful online business and we are here to support you throughout that realization process.
Let’s work together!