But no sweat. Learn the essentials of ‘Entrepreneurship’ with our five best tips on setting up a company online, and your online business will be booming in no time !
1) Don't plan to fail !
A business plan is an essential for any business, either online or offline, but it is often overlooked by young guns gearing up to start the latest big thing in online stores. Before you begin to delve into the design of your website or decide upon the catchy domain name, consider your goals for the business, as well as your mission, target market, methods of income and growth estimates. This will help set you on the right track and, by making your goals tangible, keep you accountable for business growth further on.
2) Be on Brand all the Time
This is another crucial step of any company: what is the unique selling point, the underlying message, that your business will aim to have customers identify with and, ideally, grow to love? The tremendous amount of online companies and stores already in operation – some of which, it must be said, do not reach success – testifies to the importance of closely considering just whom your brand will represent and what your brand will stand for.
Brainstorm and mind-map until you have reached the particular brand identity that feels right for you, your product, and your target market. When you have struck gold and found what works for you, the next step is to apply that particular brand identity to everything about your online company and website. Your logo, business name, domain name and site design should all reflect this brand, in addition to being clean, well-designed, and memorable enough to keep customers clicking back for more.
3) Planning your Platforms
Ideally every online entrepreneur would love their online business to have its own unique, custom-built website. If you lack the expertise to do it yourself, or the funds to have a developer take care of it for you, consider the wide variety of platforms on offer (Joomla and Wordpress are just two options) to help you get your site up and running.
As for the commerce side of things, there are a variety of online hosting packages available to provide you with the tools and infrastructure you need to build and maintain your online business (such as the shopping cart and checkout facilities, if you have an online store, for example).
Before you begin trading, you will also need a secure online merchant bank account with the financial institution of your choice. Do your research to ensure that you get the best deal, as there are expenses involved (set-up fees, for instance, and a percentage of each card transaction).
Shopify comes highly recommended as a basic yet useful e-commerce platform – it is perfect for the early stages of your online company and, best of all, is free to access with a PayPal account.
4) Online Marketing and SEO
Another crucial step in setting up your online business is to consider how you will use the tools of the internet for marketing and increasing your brand awareness. Depending on your particular online business, social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may be not only useful but essential to reach your target demographic, though you will have to carefully strategize your approach on social media as you would on any other medium.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is one of those ever-evolving concepts that seem to advance and develop every time Google decides it is time to update its search algorithms. Keep up to date with the latest tricks in SEO management and be sure to integrate its lessons (the use of keywords, for example) into your own content.
Post interesting, engaging content that your target audience will not only enjoy but love enough to share with their friends and families – and hence increase your brand awareness – in order to keep your site relevant on Google’s page rankings and attract even more customers.
5) Analyse, Analyse and Analyse !
Google Analytics in particular is a must. As the name suggests, it enables you to analyse your web traffic: its volume, where the clicks came from, and which country your website is being accessed. Statistics such as conversion rate, unique visitors, bounce rate and product performance are readily displayed using Google Analytics. It helps you to target your marketing and advertising more efficiently, learn which content and products your customers love most, and improve your website – and even business’ – weaknesses. Online business tools don't come much more essential than this.