In the words of Bill Gates, “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” This is especially true in times of the Coronavirus pandemic where it is crucial to maintain social distancing and avoiding public places as much as possible. Here, what you need to know about starting a business online is detailed.
What You Need to Know About Starting a Business Online – Overview
These times and circumstances have forced us to re-evaluate the way we conduct businesses and also how customers approach various businesses. The solution that almost every business considers is to take their business online.
Starting and operating a business online is the new way forward. People have already taken to online shopping in a big way, especially due to the pandemic induced lockdown, and have even started purchasing all their basic essentials from online businesses. Many business have adopted this business model – just think of meal prep delivery services like HelloFresh and grocery delivery services offered by the big grocery chains and even Amazon.
This growing popularity and demand has given entrepreneurs, established and new, a further boost to take their business online. In fact, it is believed that by 2025, e-retailers are expected to grow by four times since e-commerce will penetrate even the small towns by then
These following pointers will help guide entrepreneurs to start a business online.
Business Specialization Selection
An online business can be divided into one of two categories. It can either mean creating an online presence for an existing business such as for a jewelry business or garment business. Another example is a food items business which already had an offline existence but now caters to customers online via a website or through digital marketing methods.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs can start an online business such as an e-commerce platform or a website via a social media page. This can further be categorized as either an E-commerce or product based business (retail and wholesale) or a service based business.
If you are a new company just starting up, you may need to determine how you would like to organize it. More details on how to do that here.
Domain Name Registration
The domain name is the address of the online business’ website that users will type in the browser URL bar in order to visit the website. A domain name is usually something like http://www.yourbusinessnamehere.com and must be short, easy to remember and reflect the business.
Domain names can be registered by:
- Selecting the name
- Checking it’s availability on a site like this one
- Registering the name via a domain name registrar or company
- Paying for the registration as well as for the name
Web Hosting Service Selection
When starting a business online, selecting a network host is as important as registering the domain name. A service can be chosen considering what all the service providers offer and what is suitable for the business.
Web hosting services offer:
- Choosing from a website template or designing your own website
- Selecting number of email accounts with the domain name
Reliable Network Selection
Along with creating a website and hosting it, it is important to have a reliable internet connection. A lot depends on the computer hardware and the basic hardware requirements for an online business.
Such requirements may include:
- CPU: for web 1,6 GHz and for web and database 4 x 1,6 GHz CPU or Quad 2GHz+ CPU
- RAM: 4GB or 6 GB
- Minimum database space: 10GB
A website acts as a business card for the business and is a vital element of digital marketing for an online business. The website must be easy to understand and navigate, it must reflect upon the nature of the business, the content must be concise and comprehensive with engaging photographs and graphics.
Also, for an e-commerce website, the navigation button to the payment gateway must be easy to locate and navigate.
You also need to factor in site security. Customers will not feel comfortable submitting their payment info if your site doesn’t look and feel secure. THis is one of the most important aspects of what you need to know about starting a business online.
Merchant Account Set-up
In order to conduct business online, transactions and payments will also be made online. To allow customers to make online payments, a merchant account or a payment gateway needs to be set-up. This account must be easy to use, with clearly visible tabs and simple instructions elaborating the process to take customers ahead.
Advertise And Market the Business
Once the basic setup is in place to start an online business, the most crucial factor is to advertise and market the business. Entrepreneurs must be well versed with digital marketing and advertising methods to reach out to a wider audience and to tap into the various benefits of digital marketing.
Visibility on various social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help advertise the business and for businesses that involve visuals- like clothes, accessories, homeware, or art and decor or craft, etc having a presence on platforms like Instagram, Tumblr and Flickr helps. Regular posts on social media platforms helps the business to get noticed and recognised by potential customers.
Digital marketing methods include using Google AdWords and tapping into the power of search engine optimization (SEO). This ensures that the business website pops up within the first few options whenever anyone searches for products or services related to the business. Entrepreneurs seeking guidance, can find this digital marketing checklist useful.
Figure out the Finances
Starting an online business requires a comparatively small investment. The cost of hosting a website on a domain annually, along with creating a website can cost anything between $100 to $500 approximately.
Costs can quickly add up if you hire someone to do custom website design for you. Expect to pay upwards of $100 an hour.
What You Need to Know About Starting a Business Online – Summary
Starting a new business and creating a web presence, or just creating a web presence for an existing business can definitely feel overwhelming. Hopefully this article detailing what you need to know about starting a business online was helpful and can guide you in the right direction.
For more helpful articles like this, check out our small business section of the site.