We live in an era where resources and information are abundant online. One look at the sheer number of free website builders and online business resources available would be enough to make you feel like starting an online business is easy—and that anyone can do it.
Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s definitely easier to start a business today than it would have been a decade, or even a few years ago. So what exactly do you need to start an online business from scratch?
A Viable Business Model
First, you’ll need to have a viable business model in place. There are many types of online businesses that can potentially make money, but not all of them are easy to make profitable. For example, you could sell products you make from scratch (like art or crafts), or you could become a reseller, and sell products you get from another company for a specific markup. You could also sell services, like consulting or writing services.
The sky’s the limit, but you need to have some kind of unique angle, whether that’s serving an overlooked demographic, creating original products, or offering an existing product or service for a lower price.
Once you have an idea, you’ll need to flesh it out with a business plan, which will help you identify key aspects of your business, like whether you’re going to hire a team, how and when you’re going to turn a profit, how much equipment and overhead costs you’ll need to account for, and what competition you’ll face along the way. It’s exceedingly difficult to succeed without this formal research and documentation in place.
Funding, Equipment, And Initial Stock
Next, you’ll need to get funding. Some online businesses are simple and can be started with just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Others will require a much more intensive investment, requiring specific equipment, such as manufacturing equipment, or a physical warehouse in which you can store your products. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to pay for these costs with personal savings, or with an investment from an outside source like an angel investor or venture capitalist. Failing that, you can always try crowdfunding.
Templates And Contracts
Almost every business will require some documentation or paperwork to operate. For some businesses, that means creating contracts, work agreements, and privacy policies for clients and customers to sign. For others, it means creating invoice templates to send to clients after work is completed. It’s a good idea to have these in place before you begin operations. That way, you won’t be stuck developing them from scratch when you need them immediately.
A Brand And A Website
You’ll need to have a brand for your business as well; otherwise, you won’t stand out, and customers won’t have a good chance of remembering your business. Your brand should be defined in several ways, with a signature name, a logo, a color scheme, and even a personality that’s reflected in your marketing materials. Your brand should be relevant to your industry, but also unique; it should differentiate your company from those of your competitors.
Then, you’ll need a website. An original design has the potential to better support your brand, but you may wish to proceed with a website builder in combination with a preexisting template. Either way, your site needs to be smoothly functional if you want your customers to use it, and you need to have plenty of calls-to-action to incentivize purchases and/or communication.
Marketing And Advertising
Even a well-designed site won’t attract traffic on its own. If you want to attract more visitors (and potential customers), you need to employ some kind of marketing and advertising strategy. There are many options here, so you’ll need to choose one that fits your budget and appeals to your target demographic. For example, you could choose to optimize your site for search engines with SEO or pursue a targeted advertising campaign on social media.
These requirements stand for nearly any type of business you can think of, but some businesses are more complex than others. For example, if you’re selling food products or products that are illegal in certain areas, you’ll need to consider regulatory requirements and jump through some legal hurdles before you can begin selling. You’ll likely uncover these additional, industry-specific requirements as you draft your initial business plan, so be prepared for some additional needs.
Starting a business isn’t exactly easy, but it’s simpler and more accessible than it’s ever been. With the right idea and the right resources in place, you can start generating revenue shortly after your business plan is complete.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.