Tips for Starting an Online Business
Written by: Hrishikesh Pardeshi, Founder at Flexiple, buildd & Remote Tools.
Last updated: Apr 21, 2023
The Great Resignation in 2021 has seen many Americans resign from their jobs in order to pursue remote work opportunities. Many of these turned to freelancing or entrepreneurship as an alternative to working a nine-to-five office job. Why is this significant? One clear benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the ability for people to work remotely in a comfortable, productive, and efficient manner.
Entrepreneurs have taken the opportunity to take advantage of a rising demand for solutions in a new digital age. Gone are barriers like hiring the best talent in a geographically central location to an office. With all of the tools and power of the internet to help us succeed, there has never been a better time to create a business opportunity that revolves around your expertise and passion.
Deciding What Your Business Will Be
Although online businesses are often based on an entrepreneur’s passion, starting an online business is different from a passion project. An online business could eventually be your livelihood so you will need a concrete plan to establish exactly how your business will generate income and revenues. For example, turning your hobby into a business might be a good idea, but only if there is a path to generating real income from the hobby. Additionally, researching markets and sectors that you already have knowledge of can save you time and effort, rather than learning something new from scratch.
Also be aware of any expenses that you might personally incur as well. You will likely need some startup capital like purchasing a laptop, domain name, and other fees. Make sure you take into account all the necessary fees so you don’t run into any unexpected costs.
As exciting as starting an online business is, make sure you have a methodical plan to get from your idea to a successful and viable long-term strategy.
Setting Up Your Business
Online businesses can be global endeavors. You can have clients and customers from all over the world so you will need to ensure it is accessible by everyone. Having an online presence is like having a global storefront: you want to create a brand that is recognizable and universal.
Like with any business, starting your online business will require the right tools to help you succeed. Buying a laptop suited for working from home will likely be a good idea as it will be the primary tool for your online business. Once you have a good laptop, there are also tools to help you with things like creating a website, setting up accounts, and simple bookkeeping.
Starting your website isn’t expensive. But remember, you’ll want your online presence to stand out and be memorable for customers. There are many templates online that can instantly create a professional looking website for you. Creating a unique domain name can also give a professional presence to your online business. You want a website name that is easy to remember and professional enough to add to your business’ credibility. You can use NameHero's Smart Search to instantly look up a domain name that suits your business needs.
Finally, in this day and age, one of the fastest ways to get customers to your site is to have a healthy presence on social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are amazing tools in funneling customers to your site, and create the continuity users want from a successful brand. Being active and engaging on social media is one of the surest ways to build your brand and stay memorable and relevant in the minds of others. It’s also vital to provide an online payment system for your clients that find you through social media. Nowadays it’s effortless to integrate an online financial platform into your business and regulate payments.
Focus on Your Business Plan and Value Proposition
You made a business plan for a reason: don’t give up easily! Try not to get discouraged if your online business doesn’t take off overnight. Just like any business, it is a process and takes a ton of hard work and effort to succeed. For example, if you start an online business offering consulting services, you may need to do significant business development and networking before landing your first client. Focus on doing things that will continue to grow your business even if you are not seeing the initial results you hoped to have.
Success is never a straight path either. You might want to change your mind or see other opportunities along the way. Make sure to evaluate whether a new opportunity is worth your efforts. Is this new opportunity profitable? Does it have synergy with your initial business plan or is it completely different? Is it realistic to execute your business plan and this new opportunity together? Should you completely pivot your business to this new opportunity? It’s okay to pivot if necessary, but it is often better to continue on with your current project rather than start a new one from scratch.
While you are focusing on growing and developing your online business, it’s not uncommon for another entrepreneur to want to come and recruit you for their business. This might require you to make sacrifices to your online business or shut it down altogether. An opportunity like this will require you to weigh your options carefully.
Each situation is unique, but just be aware that different opportunities will present themselves. It is good to always think analytically and critically before responding and committing to them.
Careful of Scams and Get Rich Schemes
This seems obvious right? Everyone thinks they can spot a scam a mile away. Well, you’d be surprised! Nearly every industry has scams and malicious individuals that are trying their best to take your money. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. The primary reason people fall for these scams is the promise of fast and easy results. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so always be on your toes when someone approaches you with an idea that’ll “make you rich fast and easy”.
Finally, if you are ever signing up for a paid service to help your business grow, make sure to do some research into this service. It helps to use sites like Reddit and LinkedIn to see the legitimacy of these products. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of schemes designed to take your money away and leave you without any progress in building your online business. That’s not to say all paid services are scams and worthless. Many of them are actually legitimate and well worth your money. But you need to do your research to make sure it’s a real service that fits your business. It is always better to be skeptical and verify rather than waste your money.
Conclusion: Starting Your Online Business
As you can see, starting an online business is like starting any other business. There is a long list of things to be aware of before you even get around to selecting your new domain name. Before you start, make sure you have the bare essentials first: a good laptop or computer, knowledge of your industry, and have a real business plan to generate profits. From there, follow your business plan and use your website and social media to help your business grow. Carefully evaluate new opportunities that come along the way and beware of scams. Starting your online business can lead to a lifetime of success, but be prepared for the journey. It’s usually not a straight path upwards but an adventure with ups and downs.