Checklist for Starting an Online Business
Do you have to convince yourself to go to work every morning? Do you hate living on a 9-to-5 schedule with not enough time or funds to pursue your dreams? Most importantly, do you have million-dollar business ideas just sitting in your head?
These are all the signs pointing toward one thing – you need to start your own online business. That’s your ultimate ticket to freedom.
We are well aware that it’s easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible. In fact, with the right approach and a foolproof checklist, your dream life might be much closer than you think.
To succeed, all online entrepreneurs need is a strategy and the right products.
Based on personal experience and extensive research, we have created a checklist that has led many entrepreneurs to success.
Checklist for New Digital Entrepreneurs
To start a proper online business, new digital entrepreneurs must follow this checklist for starting an online business:
1. A Clear Business Idea and Market Research
You’d be setting yourself up for failure if you do not plan out your product or service in great detail. The more time you take to research and study at this stage, the higher your chances of success.
A business is only successful when you have a clear and unique business idea that attracts the audience. To find out exactly what that is, you’d need to determine the demand for your products or services, the gaps in the industry, and your target audience.
Your idea should be based on market demand, target audience, and competitive advantage. Entrepreneurs should also perform market research to validate their idea. This will help them determine the feasibility of their business idea and make necessary adjustments to ensure success.
You can conduct thorough market research to develop a business idea using:
- Social media platforms
- Customer feedback platforms
- Web analytics tools
- Competitor analysis
2. A Strong Online Presence
Once you have a clear and unique business idea that is backed by market research, it is time to build your online presence. For that, you’d need to develop a professional website and social media profiles to reach your target audience. An online business relies heavily on its online presence. That is why you need to get creative and invest lots of your resources into building a presence that does not go unnoticed.
Your professional website and social media profiles will serve as a platform to reach your target audience, showcase your products or services, and build your brand. Your website must also be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and optimized for search engines to increase its visibility. If you are low on funds, consider the option of connective e-commerce in which you don’t have to pay upfront to establish your online presence.
Social media profiles should be regularly updated with relevant content to engage with followers and drive traffic to the website. In addition, having a strong online presence helps establish credibility and trust with potential customers.
3. E-commerce platform
In addition to building an online presence, your business needs to be where the sellers are. In this time and age, everyone has apps for e-commerce on their phones. Your next step to establish your online business is to choose a secure and user-friendly e-commerce platform to sell your products or services online.
Becoming a reputed seller on platforms such as Amazon and Shopify might be complicated but these e-commerce platforms provide the infrastructure for entrepreneurs to manage their online stores, process orders and handle payments.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform depends on various factors such as the type of products or services being sold, the target audience, and the budget. Some popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and BigCommerce. Entrepreneurs should choose a platform that is user-friendly, secure and integrates well with other tools and systems they plan to use.
4. Payment Processing
A business with a defective payment processing system will face several drawbacks that will directly reflect on its success. An unreliable payment system can lead to delayed or missed payments, which can result in financial losses, such as chargebacks, declined transactions, and increased transaction fees. Managing cash flows can also become difficult for businesses. With a system like that, a startup will set itself up for failure and even big businesses can suffer from major financial losses while also tarnishing their reputation leading to a loss of customer trust.
A problematic payment system will also increase the workload on the administrative staff as they’ll constantly be working on corrective measures, leading to higher operating costs.
A reliable and secure payment gateway is essential to protect sensitive customer information and ensure a seamless checkout experience. Entrepreneurs should choose a payment processor that is compatible with their e-commerce platform, offers multiple payment options, and supports their preferred currencies.
Some popular payment processing options include PayPal, Stripe, and Square. Integrating a payment gateway trusted by customers and easy to use can increase conversion rates and help build customer trust and loyalty.
5. Marketing And Advertising Strategies
Now that you have a business idea, and an online presence, you have become a seller on a reliable e-commerce app and established a foolproof payment method, it’s time that your target audience learns about your business.
Next up on the checklist is to develop a marketing plan to attract and retain customers, such as search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media advertising, and influencer marketing.
Marketing and advertising strategies are critical for the success of a new online business. They will help you to reach your target audience, create awareness about your products or services, and drive sales. A well-thought-out marketing plan will help you effectively allocate your resources and reach your goals. Some popular marketing and advertising strategies for online businesses include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Improving the visibility of the website on search engines such as Google to attract organic traffic.
- Email Marketing – Sending targeted and personalized emails to existing and potential customers to promote products or services.
- Social Media Advertising – Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach a wider audience and drive traffic to the website.
- Influencer Marketing – Collaborating with influencers in the same niche to promote products or services to their followers.
- Content Marketing – Creating valuable and engaging content such as blog posts, videos, and infographics to attract and retain customers.
Your work is not done even after the strategies have been developed and implemented and the marketing campaigns have been launched. It is important for entrepreneurs to continually evaluate and adjust their marketing and advertising strategies to stay ahead of the competition and to meet their business goals. This means consistently spending money on paid ads and content development regardless of how many sales the business may be generating.
6. Legal Compliance
There are no shortcuts to success. Ensure that your business is compliant with all the relevant laws and regulations of your state, including tax requirements, data protection, and privacy laws.
Legal compliance is important for the success and long-term stability of a new online business. Failing to comply with relevant laws and regulations can result in legal penalties, loss of reputation, and damage to the brand. Some important legal considerations for online businesses include:
- Tax Requirements – Understanding and complying with tax laws, including registering for a tax ID number, and collecting and remitting sales tax.
- Data Protection and Privacy Laws – Implementing appropriate measures to protect sensitive customer information and complying with data protection and privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
- Intellectual Property Laws – Protecting the business’s intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyrights, and ensuring that products or services do not infringe on the rights of others.
- Contract Law – Ensuring that contracts and agreements, such as terms and conditions and privacy policies, are legally compliant and protect the business’s interests.
- Consumer Protection Laws – Complying with consumer protection laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), to protect customers and maintain the business’s credibility.
Entrepreneurs need to seek legal advice and comply with relevant laws and regulations to ensure the success and longevity of their online business. At this point, it can get a little complicated and you might need to join an entrepreneur program to understand the legalities of starting an online business in your city.
7. Customer Service and Support
You might be starting an online business, but that doesn’t mean that you get to compromise on the quality of customer service and support. This is probably the only point of contact between your customers and your business and you need to make sure that your customer puts down their phones completely satisfied with your services. Make sure you provide excellent customer service and support to build trust and reputation.
High-end customer service can help build customer trust and loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and drive repeat business. Some important aspects of customer service and support for online businesses include:
- Availability – Ensuring that customers can easily contact the business and receive prompt and helpful support through various channels, such as email, phone, live chat, and social media.
- Responsiveness: Respond to customer inquiries and concerns in a timely and professional manner to resolve any issues and maintain customer satisfaction.
- Personalization – Providing personalized support to customers to make them feel valued and build a strong relationship with the business.
- Proactivity – Anticipating customer needs and proactively addressing any potential issues to provide a positive customer experience.
- Continuous improvement – Continuously evaluating and improving customer service and support processes to ensure that they meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers.
Investing in high-quality customer service and support can help a new online business stand out from the competition and build a positive reputation with customers. It is an essential part of building and maintaining customer relationships, which is crucial for the success and growth of any online business.
Scalability is the ability of a business to grow and increase its operations efficiently as demand for its products or services increases. Achieving scalability is a critical aspect of success for a new online business. Even if your business is just starting, a wise entrepreneur will always plan for future growth and scalability to handle increased traffic and demand for their products or services.
Some strategies to achieve scalability include:
- Automation – Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as order fulfillment and customer service, to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. This will help your business respond quickly to increased demands and keep up with the growing business.
- Infrastructure – Invest in scalable infrastructure, such as cloud-based solutions, to support the business’s growth and accommodate the increased demand for its products or services.
- Partnerships: Building partnerships with suppliers, distributors, and other businesses to expand the reach of the business and increase its ability to scale.
- Data-driven decision-making – Using data and analytics to make informed decisions about business operations and strategies to drive growth and scalability.
- Delegation and team building – Building a strong and efficient team and delegating responsibilities to allow the business to focus on its core operations and growth.
Achieving scalability requires careful planning, investment in technology and resources, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By focusing on these strategies, a new online business can increase its operations, reach a wider audience, and achieve long-term success and growth.
How to Achieve Your Goals and Start an Online Business with Limited Resources
It is one thing to have access to a checklist for starting an online business but entirely another to follow it without the expertise and with limited resources. You need two things to tick every item off this checklist – funds and knowledge.
It requires technical skills, training, and knowledge to build a website, establish yourself as a seller on an e-commerce platform, plan marketing strategies, and build a scalable business. Even if you decide to arm yourself with knowledge, it will take lots of time and along the way, you’d have loads of questions about entrepreneurship.
You might have to enroll in an online college program or join a mentoring group to do everything right. Then, you’d have to pay developers to create your website and marketers to launch your advertising campaigns and a lot more.
What if we tell you that there’s an easier solution, a way to work smarter, not harder, a place where you’ll find done-for-you digital products?
Digital solutions like Bemodo saves entrepreneurs from hours of research on finding a unique business idea, from planning, producing, and revising, from establishing an online presence, and from doing it all over again in case of failure. Instead of spreading out your work, invest in one place and have everything done for you by the experts.