An internet business is essentially a virtual storefront through which consumers can purchase products or services and for obvious reasons, internet businesses have become incredibly popular over the last decade or so with small business owners and entrepreneurs. While internet businesses might well be easier to set up than their traditional counterparts and require less investment capital, that does NOT mean they don’t require as much, if not more commitment and work.
Before you even consider seriously investing in your only business there are a number of questions you should be asking yourself; can I afford it? Do I have the time? Do I have the patience? And (more importantly) can I commit to it? If the answer to answer of those questions was even a tentative “Maybe”, then you might want to stick with the 9-5 job for the foreseeable future.
For the rest of you though, the steps below will guide you through the potentially challenging (but ultimately rewarding) process of choosing your business and setting it up. If at any point you feel like these steps need to be expanded on, WebWithit teaches you how to build business/website revenue in more detail, using the advice of experienced internet-based entrepreneurs as its source material.
Step 1 – Choosing your business
The type of online business venture you choose to build should involve something that you’re passionate and/or knowledgeable about and something you can logistically afford in terms of both time and your finances.
Affiliate marketing – A good way to get started in the online business world is to become an affiliate. This means starting a blog and overall ‘brand identity’ based on your hobbies and interests and using that blog as a means of advertising products and services for other online businesses. As an affiliate, you will earn your income on a commission basis for every click or purchase eventually made through your site. As an affiliate, you will need to be able to create absorbing content that doesn’t so much ‘advertise’ as ‘suggest’ your affiliate partners products or services to your customer. If you already have an active web presence, this is a great way to get your foot in the door!
Sell your services – If you have a legitimate talent and/or skill that you could monetise then why not start there? These types of businesses generally have significantly lower startup costs as you’re relying only on your own skills and possible raw materials you might need in order to utilise them. If you’re quite technically minded and can fix electronics, for example, there’s a huge market in electronic repairs online.
Online retail – Selling on third party products will see you competing with the ‘big wigs’ such as Amazon and thusly this option should NOT be undertaken unless you have a decent financial backing and either no day-job or at least a day-job that is undemanding.
Step 2 – Research
The first step is to examine your market and find a niche market within it that is not already completely saturated with online business. A good litmus test is to consider an aspect or your chosen market that isn’t already being covered (or is at least not being covered well) and work from there. Also use Google Keyword search to help ascertain how popular certain combinations of words are. If you search using keywords relating to your intended business and they don’t turn up many results you might want to reconsider your niche.
Step 3 – Business plan
A business plan should read like an invitation to invest in your business. It should run to no more than 20 pages (the more succinct and direct you can be, the better), and should include a business overview, market analysis (research and statistics on your competitors), and a description of your company’s structure and goals. You should also make sure there are detailed descriptions (but not too detailed) of the products or services you intend to sell, and a list of ways in which you intend to fund and budget the business. The business plan is what you will be using to sell your business, so don’t rush it!
Step 4 – Funding and legalising it
If you can’t fund the start up of the business yourself, then you’ll have to either consider taking out loans (from friends, family and/or the bank), equity lines (asking already successful entrepreneurs to buy shares or equity in your business for a fixed amount), or starting a business credit card. Once the funding is settled you’ll have to apply for a business license via the gov.uk website. The website should take you through the process in quite a clear and considered manner, but feel free to consult other forums and communities online if you’re left feeling confused.
Step 5 – Upload
First of all you need to decide whether you’ll be playing your wares through a group website (for example Amazon or eBay), or through your own website. If you have chosen to use your own website then choose a domain name that is simple, effective, memorable and search engine friendly (which could very well take a while) and choose a web host that offers good rates and decent service.
Step 6 – Design
Now this is the final step and perhaps the one which requires the most work. If you’re creating your website yourself then the quickest way to get your site online would be to use the tools provided by your web hosting service. Alternatively you could use any one of the numerous ‘drag and drop’ instant website builders on the market and simply link it to your domain name. For serious entrepreneurs though hiring a professional web designer is a must. Remember that your website is the shop window into your business, so if it looks in any way unprofessional or is difficult to navigate, you won’t get much business. A professional website designer will have all the skills and tools at their disposal to make sure your particular shop window looks so good people will be resistless to enter!
Of course setting up the site is only the beginning. The real work comes next, in maintaining, marketing and running the site on a day-to-day basis. But hopefully this guide has helped any tentative online entrepreneurs feel their way to the first rung of the ladder.
About the Author
George Brandon began his online business 3 years ago and has recently been able to pay off his mortgage with the profits! He’s the best boss that he’s ever had.