Starting your own online business is an incredibly exciting yet terrifying endeavour. If you’ve never owned a business before, you are likely confused and unclear about everything that a business launch involves.

Here to help you is our guide detailing the nine steps for building an online business.

Start with an Idea

Your first step is to come up with a business idea. This can be a frustrating process, especially if you feel that there are plenty of businesses doing the same already.

Think about your strengths and expertise. What are you good at, and what are you passionate about? You don’t necessarily need to come up with a completely new concept. You do need to be able to sell your products or services well.

Research the Market

Once you have a tentative idea of what you’d like to do, you can conduct some market research. This is when your idea will be either validated or dismissed.

Aim to conduct your research among the people you plan to sell to one day. Don’t ask people who are not your target audience what they think of the idea. You could get very skewed research results.

While you are at it, you can collect valuable information for the business concerning pricing, customer pain points, and the businesses they currently buy from.

Write a Business Plan

A lot of online business owners forget how important it is to write a detailed business plan. They believe they can wing a lot of it, and then they are surprised by unforeseen obstacles. Or they inadvertently deviate from the best path to growth.

While writing a business plan can be tedious, it should ideally guide all of your future decisions. Consider what your business goal is, how much money you have and will need to raise, who you need to employ, and so on.

Having answers to all of these operational questions will reduce stress levels in the future.

Write a Marketing Plan

You will also need to have a comprehensive marketing and sales plan for your online business. This involves identifying your target audience, coming up with detailed buyer personas, and figuring out how and where you want to market your services.

As an online business, the most obvious avenues open to you will be social media, paid advertising, and SEO. Ideally, you will want to incorporate all three strategies, but you can also start with the one that is most likely to deliver the best results.

Note that research and analysis are required for this step as well.

Register Your Business

Depending on where you live, there will be different legal entities you can form. You may need to register as an LLC, or you may become a sole proprietorship. You may even be able to pay your taxes as a freelancer if you won’t be hiring any employees and will be offering an online service.

You’ll also need to open a business bank account and hire an accountant who will handle your taxes and your earnings. Aim to work with someone who has experience with businesses similar to yours, as they can offer valuable advice.

Make Sure You Are Completely Legally Compliant

Another important thing to note is that online businesses need to comply with a whole host of legal requirements.

For starters, you will need to be transparent about the cookies you have on your website and ask every visitor for their cookie consent. You can use a plugin to handle this for you.

You will also need a terms and conditions page outlining how your customers or clients work with you and use the website itself. You can use a tool for this as well. TermsFeed is a good one that many sites recommend.

Set up Your Website

As an online business, you will also need a website. You can build one yourself using WordPress or Shopify, or you can hire someone to do it for you. It’s not that complex a process, but if you know nothing about coding or design, you might want to leave this bit to the experts.

The content you publish on your website needs to reflect what you offer and what you stand for. It should reflect the personality of your business to help your audience connect with you easily. This might be a job for a copywriter.

Optimize Your Website

While your website is being built, you will also need to consider how to optimise it. This is a task for someone who does SEO. Ask for help to figure out which keywords you should use on your pages if you don’t know how to do this step yourself.

You can also speak to someone about running some off-page SEO for you. Website speed optimization is getting increasingly important, so it’s best to consult a technical SEO who can ensure that every element is loading properly.

Start Reaching out to Your Audience

You are not finally ready to start making an impact and connecting with your target audience. Ideally, you will have laid out a specific plan on how to do this in your marketing strategy.

Don’t expect people to find you. It will take a fair amount of time to get some online traction. Instead, start attracting attention for yourself. Post on social media, start sending cold emails, or even do some offline promotion if there is room for it.

Don’t be discouraged if things are slow at first. Most people will be a bit hesitant to work with a completely new business, but once you land your first sale, it will get a lot easier. Make sure to ask for testimonials and recommendations from customers!

Wrapping Up

Now that you understand the steps you need to take to become an online business owner, you can slowly embark on your entrepreneurship journey. Do careful research, surround yourself with the right people, and be patient. Success rarely comes entirely overnight.