Starting an Online Business can seem as though all you need is just a good-looking website. While that’s absolutely true, you still need to understand how to create your online business in a smart, proficient way so that, as growth happens (and sometimes that can be fast online), you will be ready. Some of these steps are standard for starting any type of company, but we highlight a few new things that you’ll need if you are fully an internet based company.
Follow these easy Steps to Starting an Online Business:
1. Name your Company
Sounds silly that we would start with this step because you probably already have a business name in mind. HOWEVER, if your company is going to be driven by the internet, you must keep in mind that your Domain Name will need to be available. Try not to get too creative and over-think your domain name. If you can – try not to use a number instead of a word, and dashes can be used, but they’re not the best option. You can include your key words, but again not completely necessary if you optimize your website’s content enough.
If after this first paragraph I’ve already lost you and you have even more questions than when you started, you might just want to call and set a time to chat with our creative team for some in-person help. 210-885-8408 Mention this article and get a free 30 minute consultation.
2. Do the Legal Stuff
Determine the legal structure of your business. This is not a “must have” for an online business but it could save you some money and headaches in the long run. Finding a great CPA and lawyer is an expense you’ll be thankful you invested in when the time comes.
Get your tax number and another other legal items, certifications or accreditations that your company may need. Get your bank account set up. (Research these items in your specific industry. There may be more.)
3. Write A Business Plan
This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it absolutely needs to be written down. This will be your business’ compass as you develop and grow. You should include your mission statement, your target market, your competition, your services list, your unique niche, your strategy for marketing your company, as well as your needed collateral. If you are going to look for investors, the will absolutely want to see your business plan.
4. Set up your online marketing strategy
This may require hiring an online marketing team / firm. If you do that – we’d love to help! But what you’ll need to do is find a team that can help assist you with an online marketing strategy for not only your website and your online reputation, but also your social media marketing.
This stage is really where you begin to focus on your target market.
5. Design your website
Now that you’ve hired an online marketing team – they should be able to help you research your industry and come up with your own unique niche in that field. This unique presence should be reflected in your logo as well as your website and then carried into all of your marketing not only through branding but also through your content.
6. Develop your website
Design and Development are two totally different things. Design has to do with the layout, look and navigation. Development has more to do with the nerd code, SEO and user experience. This stage needs just as much if not more attention than design.
Be sure to reference your target market yet again in this stage. Also – if you’re taking payments online be sure to invest in online security like a secure server license. It’s key to make your customers feel safe when making a payment online.
7. Set up Social Networks
Free advertising is GREAT! And always in the budget! So set up the social networks that you believe your target market uses. If you think they’ll be on facebook, start a business facebook page. If you think they enjoy videos, start a YouTube channel. No need to have a presence on all of the sites, but if you do start a page, commit to it and build your audience.
8. Soft Launch
A “soft launch” means that only a few folks know about your website and you’ve given them access to view it, test the contact forms, go through a check out process, read your content and give you their opinions or suggestions. This is key when the user’s experience is your concern. You want folks to be able to find your website easy to use, navigate and understand. Be sure all of your links work.
Test the website in multiple browsers and on different devices to be sure that it’s mobile friendly.
9. Go Live!
Taking your new website live can seem exciting and scarey all at once. If you’ve had a successful soft launch then your website’s live roll out should go smoothly. You’ll want to be sure your Google Analytics codes are plugged in to monitor your traffic and submit your sitemap to Google for faster indexing.
Announce on all of your social circles that your site is live and list the link. Maybe even write a press release or blog article about the new launch! It’s a big deal! Time to celebrate!
You’d think that’s it – the website’s live so you’re done, right? WRONG! It’s time to repeat! You’ve got to set up writing calendar so that you can know when to blog and what to write about. Be sure to monitor and engage on social media weekly, and always provide fresh content not only in those circles but also on your website. Just like humans – Google wants to see what’s new with your company and they’re watching!
Hope this article has helped you get a realistic game plan together for starting your online business. It’s not about just building a freebie website or having your nephew design something for you. Having an online business / website is an investment, and if done correctly it can not only set you apart from the competition, but also help you propel your company to new levels of profit and growth!
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