Starting your own online business may seem like an easy task, but there is more to it than meets the eye! Online startups are an increasingly popular way for entrepreneurs to dip their toys in the waters of business ownership without having to worry about the overhead costs that accompany a brick and mortar business. When first deciding to start a business online, you must identify a few key factors:
- What type of business will this be? Are you wanting to sell merchandise online, or run a website/blog and sell virtual ad space?
- If you decide to sell merch, will you make it on demand in your home or outsource to a drop shipping distributor?
- What are your monthly associated fees/charges?
- How much income do you wish to generate?
- How much time and effort can you afford to dedicate to your online business?
Most online businesses start as a side job, while the business owner works a “traditional” job to fund their new venture before jumping into online full time. Regardless of what type of online presence you wish to have, here is a checklist of the necessary items you need to curate to get your new business off to a thriving start.
- Web hosting. There are a number of affordable web hosting options. Start off with a shared server, and then depending on your traffic numbers you can upgrade your remote server as necessary. Shared servers keep hosting costs down to an affordable price (most are under $10/month)
- Business cards. Even if you are a virtual only business, business cards are a cheap and easy way to self promote your products to family, friends, and your local community. Check for local businesses in town that offer a community board where you can leave or pin a business card to advertise to other local shoppers.
- A good logo. A good logo must a) be eye catching, b) easy to read, c) scalable so that it looks good both on your website and in print (think business card size). This is one aspect of your business you do not want to skimp on – a logo is the first thing your clients or customers see. A bad or poorly designed logo can turn customers away. We recommend using a service such as LogoJoy.
- A domain name. Look for domain names that include your preferred key word, are relatively short, easy to read, and easy for people to remember. “ashevillencsveryfirstblog” for example would be difficult to remember and there is a lot of room for types. “AshevilleBlog.com” is simple, easy, and to the point.
- A web designer. Even if you can’t afford a high tech, fancy website we recommend at least consulting a web designer prior to trying to build your own. If a domain name is like a street address, than your website is like your place of business and the last thing you want is a store that is difficult to navigate, hard to use, and confusing for your customers.
- Patience. Building an online business from scratch takes time and patience. Expecting an immediate return on your money is the first mistake most new business owners make. While some online businesses do see a fairly immediate profit, consider them to be unicorns. Just like with a brick and mortar location, expect to break even your first year and be turning a profit a year or two after that. It takes time to find your niche and tweak your business model to achieve maximum results. With how quickly the internet and search algorithms change, what worked for you six months ago now may be obsolete.
While striking your own path and working your own online company may seem like a daunting task, working for yourself is a very rewarding experience. Take advantage of all the internet has to offer, and good luck!