Planning to start an online business?

It seems like such a common idea that everyone would think of right after finishing college.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds.

9 out of 10 startups fail as per the study by Startup Genome 2019.

Now you know it’s not everyone’s piece of cake. But someone somewhere knows how to do it right!

That is all this blog is about, figuring out what you need to do to avoid falling into the failure category.

Especially if your family is not from an entrepreneurial background, you might have absolutely no idea about it. In reality, it takes a lot of hard work and wisdom.

And online business is much bigger than offline as it provides you with customers worldwide. You need the right strategy for your goals to accomplish something great like that.

So you need to know there is no one formula that works for all. It takes a lot of effort, like trial and error, to figure out what works best for you and then do more of it.

The first thing you can do for starting an online business is to come up with a business model.

The term business model refers to your plan to make a profit. It simply means an idea of selling products, the identified target market, and anticipated expenses.

Let’s look at it in more detail below.

9 Simple Steps on how to Start an Online Business from Home

Now that you have decided to start your business, you need to dig deeper into the real operational aspects.

  1. Clarify your business idea and niche.
  2. Define your target customer.
  3. Do product or service research.
  4. Learn online business laws.
  5. Do market research.
  6. Source products to sell online.
  7. Evaluate product viability.
  8. Define your brand positioning and image.
  9. Launch your online store.

1. Clarify Your Niche and Business Idea (Figure out what online business can i start)

A business niche means the market segment and target customers you want to serve.

These can be professionals, sports enthusiasts, teenagers, or anyone who is the perfect potential customer for your product.

Now how do you pick a perfect niche?

Check that your target customers have:

  • A problem they are facing and no other brand is solving well enough.
  • Desire to pay for the solution you’ll offer.
  • Sufficient income to afford the solution.

Now, the first thing you gotta do is avoid any niche that doesn’t meet all three criteria.

Building an online business is already hard.

And if you run after people who don’t need your products or can’t afford them, you make things even harder for yourself.

So make sure you’re targeting the right audience who will consider buying your product.

2. Define Your Target Audience before you start an online business in India

To successfully sell your product, you need to know who you want to sell to.

Knowing your target audience and their needs and preferences based on demographics and psychographic data is the first thing you should do after your business idea.

2.1 Demographics.

Demographic data is based on socioeconomic characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, job title, income, etc.

2.2 Psychographics.

Psychographic data is based on psychological characteristics such as values, opinions, beliefs, interests, etc.

When combined, these insights can help you develop a thorough understanding of your ideal customer’s needs, preferences, and purchase triggers.

3. Do Product Research on the best online business to start

You can sell three types of eCommerce products online. Each comes with its own pros and cons.

3.1 Physical goods.

As the name suggests, these objects need to be manufactured, kept in a warehouse, and shipped to customers. Selling these goods can be lucrative initially, but the profit margins can be less if you don’t manage the operational costs well.

3.2 Digital downloads.

If not the physical ones, you can also sell digital products like ebooks, audio courses, or online courses that customers can download to their devices.

Digital products have better profit margins than physical goods. But putting a price on them can be tricky as they are often seen with a lower value than physical products.

3.3 Services.

You can sell any service online which is available remotely. It is the quickest way to build an online business.

But you are; the biggest limitation in this kind of business model is time.

You will only be able to provide services within the hours of the day unless you decide to scale into an agency where different people can provide services simultaneously.

4. Learn Online Business Laws on how to start a small online business

It’s a misconception that small owners do not need to worry about rules and regulations as it’s small. Online businesses need lesser permits and licenses than brick-and-mortar businesses, but you still need to do everything legally and know your law.

Specifically:

  • What kind of business license do you need to start operations?
  • What legal structure makes the most sense (limited liability company or a corporation, a sole proprietorship)?
  • Do you need any special permits?
  • What are the laws for hiring contractors and employees?
  • Do you need to pass any inspections?
  • Do you need a sales tax license?
  • Are there any specific regulations that apply to online businesses only?

Note that each state and country has specific laws. Always verify the details with local authorities.

5. Do Market Research on how to start an online selling business

The last thing you want to do is launch a product no one’s keen on buying.

You need to research what exactly your target audience needs. It is an essential step in building your own online business. It helps to find the chosen business vertical’s depth, competitiveness, and benefit.

Also, market research can validate your product idea, price, and demand.

Here’s how you can do your market research:

5.1 Check the SERPs.

Look up the variations of the keywords related to your products and analyze the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Note what type of content is ranking on the first page? What kind of businesses is advertising on top of search results?

This will help you know your competition.

Plus, it will provide you the information for SEO and digital marketing strategy that you can use to reach your target audience.

5.2 Research competitors.

You also need to inspect your competitors. What are the biggest business ventures? How much money do they make? What are their strengths and drawbacks?

By observing them carefully, you can figure out what could give you an edge over them.

Maybe you can find something they are bad at and be good at that.

5.3 Track high-performing keywords.

You need to research how often the product is sold in the market.

Analyze the demand for different products and also how it changes in your niche.

Look what kind of content ranks best by monitoring niche-relevant keywords.

The best tools for that are-

  • Google Trends (free)
  • Google Keyword Planner (free)
  • Ahrefs (paid)
  • Semrush (paid)

6. Know Where to Source Products to Sell Online

You can’t run an online business if your products are below average. They have to be extraordinary. You might hit the trending pages on social media…for the wrong reasons, which won’t later justify your products or services.

Thus, spend extra time crafting your product sourcing strategy.

6.1 Make your products.

This option is easier if you want to sell digital products. But physical product manufacturing takes a lot of hard work like design, interactions, a manufacturing area, material selection, the financial costs, etc.

However, know that manufacturing your stuff will always give you an edge over the competition’s quality and range.

6.2 Find a drop shipper.

You can get a manufacturer that lets you drop ship their products. Many small business owners go for this idea. They negotiate dropshipping deals with overseas manufacturers to offset the business costs.

This is easy, nothing complex, and a great way to kickstart your business.

6.3 Work with a wholesaler

Another thing you can do if you get a wholesaler that offers you a range of products to fill your online store. Also, you can get a wholesaler to distribute your products if you manufacture them.

7. Evaluate Product Viability

In case you are manufacturing yourself, you need to evaluate your product viability before taking a big order.

Ask yourself –

  • Is there a successful online business already doing the same thing?
  • Is the demand for this product sustainable, or is it temporary?
  • Does the math and logic behind this product make sense? Can you earn a profit from it?

Remember, it doesn’t matter how cool your idea seems; what’s important is whether it’s viable from a business perspective or not!

8. Define Your Brand and Image before you start an online business from home

Having a theme or uniqueness of a brand is a must. There must be a “vibe” in your business.

Everything from your logo and business name to the content should convey the same message and ideas.

The same applies to your off-site presence — email newsletter, social media, and even packaging.

Pay special attention to your:

  • Logo.
  • Color scheme.
  • Page layouts.
  • Typography.
  • Graphics and photos.

This should create a unique brand image for your business.

9. Launch Your Online Store

Now you need to prepare your business plan for the launch. You need to set up an eCommerce website to send your products are services.

9.1 Choose your eCommerce platform.

You need a professional-looking platform to sell your products. Such software provides you the essential features — from a product catalog to payment processing.

Here are some popular options:

  • BigCommerce- This open-SaaS platform provides a wide range of native commerce features. The best part is it poses no limits on customization. The extraordinary functionality of BigCommerce saves merchants roughly $5,800 – $30,000+ yearly in app subscription costs, when compared to Shopify.
  • WooCommerce- It is an open-source platform which you can mold into any type of store. It has hundreds of extensions to facilitate shipping, accounting, marketing, etc. But, you’ll need to purchase web hosting separately, plus hire a developer to do web design for your store.
  • Shopify- Shopify is another SaaS platform with a range of native features and over 4,100 integrated apps. It also has over 70 responsive themes for building a website. Pick a platform that provides the features you need in your budget.

9.2 Add your products

Now that you have your platform, add products to your catalog.

Pay special attention to:

  • Product images- Put high-def visuals of the product from different angles.
  • Product descriptions- Focus on benefits more than features.

Images and descriptions have a huge impact on conversion rates. So take the time to get them right!

9.3 Choose how you will do your shipping.

Lastly, everyone likes a quick delivery. Fast and free shipping has a higher scope of making more sales.

Ensure that your products will get to your customers without delays. You can adopt several shipping strategies:

  • Same-day or next-day delivery
  • In-store pickup
  • LTL freight carriers
  • Free shipping

Finally, now that your eCommerce store is live test all the facets.

Verify that:

  • All web pages look good across all devices (desktop, tablet, mobile).
  • The site functions well in all browsers (Chrome, Brave, Firefox).
  • The buttons are clickable.
  • If you can afford it, hire a QA specialist to run the test and report on the findings.

Conclusion

That’s everything about how you can start an online business from home. We pretty much-covered everything, and more information on top of this might overwhelm you! Now is the most perfect time to get started without worrying about setbacks. So get a pen and start brainstorming your ideas until you are confident with a business idea that matches your vibes!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How to Increase Traffic on Your Online Business?

    Once your online business is ready, it’s time to drive traffic to your eCommerce store. Getting traffic from a specific target audience can be tricky since the internet is a pool of all kinds of people. But here is what you can do to attract your audience:

    Good Search engine optimization (SEO)- Make sure that all your site pages are SEO-optimized. A good SEO-optimized blog has the real potential to rank on the first page of the website- getting high traffic.

    Paid ads- Place an ad budget for PPC (pay-per-click) ads on social networks and search results. That’s the quickest way to grow brand awareness for a new store.

    Influencer marketing- Partner with influencers to promote your products. This is another quick way to get your products in front of your target audience.

    Social media marketing- Get more profits from paid campaigns by building organic audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Market yourself on these platforms to engage with your audience.

    Email marketing- Create an email list by trapping the email addresses of the audience who visit your eCommerce store. You can promote your products to your email subscribers and leave a link to redirect on your website!

    These are some tips you can consider to attract more and more people to your website!

  2. Can I start an online business at home?

    Anyone can start a business (online) with the global use of the internet today. You can become an entrepreneur or launch your business from the comfort and convenience of your home.
    Owning an online business gives entrepreneurs the liberty to earn money from anywhere in the world. The idea is enticing and more possible today than ever, but many people don’t know where to start.
    The most important thing, to start is dedication. You need a passion that makes you get up every day and work for your business. All the strategies and ideas won’t pan out if you are not serious enough. Make sure you stay motivated despite the failures, then you can surely start an online business at home.
    All you need for a business is a bright idea and the capacity to work long hours.
    To start a small online business, the first step is to have an amazing idea, know your business type (B2B/B2C), and define your target audience.
    Then you can proceed with setting up a website and start promoting your business!

  3. Which online business is best to start?

    The most important thing in starting a profitable online business is to get a business idea that matches your strengths.

    Whether you want to become an entrepreneur or start a part-time business for passive income, your service should fulfill a consumer need. We’ve compiled a list of profitable online business ideas (models) with minimal startup costs to get started.

    Dropshipping e-commerce.
    Ecommerce: selling goods online.
    Social media influencer.
    Videographer or photographer.
    Podcasting.
    Writer & blogger.
    Affiliate marketing.
    Selling services online.

  4. What is the first step to starting an online business?

    The primary step for your online business is assessing your idea’s feasibility. Even the most brilliant business ideas can be unsuccessful if your product/service has no market. So make sure your product solves a problem, and people will be willing to pay for it.

    Then, research your target audience. Try to learn what they want from you and how you can deliver them in a cost-efficient manner.
    To have a clear structure of your business on paper, including details like, what’s the service, who is the target, how you will deliver, transactions, and everything else involved is how you can feel confident about your business.
    Knowing what you want to serve and who to serve, you can definitely get started with your business idea. Of course, not all first-timers get success, hence the real and most important step to success is to never quit!

Author Avinash Chandra

Branding, Integrated & Digital Marketing Wizard and Founder of BrandLoom Consulting (A $1m startup). I help companies generate more revenue through digital marketing. I have successfully led Business and Marketing operations of several Large & Small; American, European, Chinese & Indian Brands and Startups. In totality, I have worked with over 100 Brands during my 21 years of professional career with a proven track record of Building Sustainable & Profitable Businesses.

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