Building a business from scratch may seem overwhelming to many people. It can be challenging when you begin to take those first steps and have no idea what to do amid several tasks. It even seems more impossible to start an online business, especially when our world suffers from an epidemic like Covid-19.
But fear not! All you need is a strong will to learn and a carefully planned schedule for your business, which we will provide you in this article.
With this one-month routine, you will no longer hesitate to start your online business. We’re going to show you step-by-step what you should do chronologically. Let’s find out what it says!
Week 1: Research & Build A Detailed Business Plan
A. Research And Analyze
1. Find a good idea
To find a job that can help you earn money online, you should identify a passion or a specific area to pursue and specialize in. Many people have gained great success by turning their hobby into a lucrative job.
For instance, Coronavirus lockdown has made people stay most of the time indoors. That explains why customers today tend to buy more home stuff like kitchen gadgets, room decor, or homeware.
Therefore, it can be a brilliant idea to launch a home-based business selling these things via dropshipping model. Another amazing suggestion is to work as a designer, writer, business consultant, etc., because these types of businesses allow you to work from home.
Now think about the areas which you are passionate about. Is it what you frequently do? Or is it what you already have experience and special training? Or maybe you can even find an online business idea that you’re both adept at and passionate about.
2. Identify your niche market
One way to figure out what specific market segment will be beneficial is to conduct market and product research. You can start with simple steps such as using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner.
When searching for a keyword, remember to pay attention to such factors as search volume, competition level, and suggested bid.
Besides, you should frequently visit social media platforms, forums, or blogs to see popular topics. They may help you understand what customers are fond of before you deliver any product or service decisions.
Surveying several targeted niches before deciding, setting up your niche website and social media profiles is an important step that helps you avoid unwanted problems later on.
3. Check out the competitors
To understand your business is standing on the market, you should collect information about your rival businesses like background or history. You can also compare their products and services to yours in terms of price, quality, features, etc. Eventually, you can find out what area makes you distinguish from them to focus on.
Furthermore, analyzing their SWOT and marketing tactics allows you to adapt your own strategies. They are the key tool to help you counter their strong points and take advantage of their weak points.
But most importantly, every business should definitely develop its own competitive advantage to become distinctive and appeal to customers.
4. Make your business official
If you have already come up with a suitable name, it’s time to register your business with the authorities. It provides you with a legal foundation to continue the next steps. Let’s spend some time to see how this stage takes place.
There are 4 main types of business structures that every merchant should consider before making the final decision. They are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company. Each model has its own merits and drawbacks and suitability for specific types of products or services. Your choice of business organization can affect your taxes later on, so it’s vital to consult a tax advisor or accountant first.
After a thorough consultation, you now need to obtain permits or licenses to make sure your business is legal. Different countries and regions may require different approaches to legalize your online business, but typically those 2 things below are the most common ones:
- Business license: In most cases, you need to collect documents relating to your business and apply for a business license to start an online business. License renewal is also required from time to time.
- Sales Tax Permit: If your region charges sale tax, you’ll need to pay it on the items you sell (particularly tangible goods). To do this, you can sign up for the permit online or in person, depending on each region or country.
B. Build A Detailed Business Plan
1. Write a clear and concise executive summary
The purpose of an executive summary is to introduce your business briefly. Things you must include are your goals and visions, your product concept, team members, etc.
As a summary, it shouldn’t be too long and cover only necessary information and key points that make readers grasp an overall understanding of your business.
2. Include company description and market analysis
This step will go further into the details about the problems your business is trying to solve. Unlike the executive summary, you need to be specific in this description and list the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve or partner with.
Besides, it’s vital to describe your industry outlook and include market research to see what other competitors are doing to discover the trends. You can take advantage of the information you have obtained in the last few days.
3. Set up logistics and operations plan
Your business plan must prioritize organizing logistics and operations activities in advance to ensure your workflow is smooth and certain.
This section must include:
- Suppliers: They are the sources from which you will get the raw materials you need for production. For instance, if you run an online cosmetics shop, you’ll need to find the manufacturer to produce your items.
- Facilities: Since your business is network-based, it may not be necessary to have a physical retail space or office for team members.
- Equipment: Ask yourself whether you need any special tools or equipment for your business. If you run an online podcast business, recorders, laptops, or editing software are a must.
- Shipping and fulfillment: Will you use a dropshipping model or handle fulfillment tasks in-house? Each option is suitable for a specific type of product you’re selling.
- Inventory: How much inventory will you be able to stock at your places?
Preparing and making this section clear from the beginning is really beneficial and will help you avoid risks and uncertainties when you start an online business.
4. Estimate your budget
First and foremost, you should figure out what funding option is suitable for your business: whether you will use your own money, seek bank loans or outside investment, or combine these solutions.
Next, within your financial plan, you should calculate set-up costs (equipment, ingredients, raw materials) and the capital money for everyday operation. Since your business is Internet-based, these set-up costs are much cheaper than operating an offline company.
Moreover, a careful financial plan should forecast profit and loss every month, quarter, or year. A constant calculation will be useful for developing sales targets and determining to price.
Last but not least, you should identify the break-even point of your business. A break-even analysis indicates how much you need to sell to make up for the expenditure and acquire profit.
5. Outline your marketing strategies
A successful business cannot overlook its marketing strategies. Therefore, you should carefully outline some marketing strategies before you start your online business. To promote your product or service, your plan needs to outline current and future marketing strategies, focusing on reaching your audience most effectively.
Basically, the marketing portion of the business plan addresses four main topics. By answering these questions, you will get the whole picture of what you need to do to promote your business.
- Product: What is the core benefit your product offers? How does it differ from competitors? Why should people buy your product but not others?
- Price: How much will your product cost? How do you balance sales volume and price to maximize income?
- Place: Which sales channels will you use? Will you use social media platforms or websites? What are the advantages of using e-commerce websites compared to other methods?
- Promotion: What type of advertising will you use? How will you attract potential customers and convince them to buy your products?
Various other factors can impact your marketing results. The best advice is to plan thoroughly and keep up to date with the latest marketing trends to achieve your goals.
Week 2: Build Your Online Store
This week, you’re going to create your online presence and bring your business to the eyes of the public and start selling the very first products. In fact, merchants have several choices relating to selling venues on the Internet.
They can either use an e-commerce platform to build a website or join a marketplace to display their products, or combine both approaches. Each offers different solutions, benefits, and drawbacks depending on the specific type of your business.
1. Build A Suitable E-commerce Platform
When it comes to e-commerce platforms, there are the two most common types for you to start your online business. The first is using Software As A Service (SAAS) platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce, and the second option is open-source platforms like Magento.
What are the main differences between these two?
- The SAAS platform
The (SAAS) platform is on a subscription basis, which means you only have to pay a small amount of fee every month instead of an expensive hosting expenditure.
This platform also allows merchants to configure their new stores based on available themes. Because merchants have to do the whole process on their own, this option can be very time-consuming and challenging for newbies.
- The open-source platform
The second choice for an online business is building an open-source platform with the help of a professional developer team. This team is usually responsible for developing an e-commerce website like Magento from scratch.
Therefore, it’s ideal for beginners because you won’t have to spend time learning and building a website. Although the total cost to hire an agency is, of course, greater than doing stuff by yourself, it’s actually way more effective and economical in the long run.
But don’t worry too much! There are various Magento website development packages that are perfect matches for start-up businesses. If you need a simple and easy-to-use website, several options with a reasonable price are offered, including website hosting.
2. Join An Retail Website
Websites like Amazon, eBay, Target, etc., allow businesses and individuals to sell and purchase products easily. With over 300 million active users worldwide, your business has many wonderful opportunities to get closer to potential customers through these sales channels.
They are straightforward to join and help you generate great sales thanks to international expansion. Using sites like Amazon can reduce your marketing costs and make it convenient to track your sales.
However, selling your products on these websites has some drawbacks, especially to small and medium businesses. The first thing is that thousands of businesses and individuals sell there, so the competition between sellers is fierce. Besides, these websites will charge you a huge commission per each sale, a referral fee, or fulfillment fees.
In general, we suggest that you can start your online business by using both of these methods above. Many merchants nowadays own both an e-commerce website and a spot on the marketplace like Amazon.
They need to sync these selling channels and manage them from the website backend. Still, it’ll be beneficial if you prioritize building an e-commerce website since it will play a key role in your brand equity and image.
Week 3: Advertise Your Online Store
1. Via Social Media
Taking advantage of social networks will definitely give your business a head start in the race. After building your own website, it’s time to focus on your business account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the like.
First, you need to create a professional profile and attach business information so that potential customers can easily find you. Next, you can consider some of the following tips to increase interaction with your followers.
- Upload posts and pictures sharing product reviews, teasers behind the scenes to arouse curiosity from the audience.
- Run competitions or giveaways vouchers, discounts,s or products to attract people.
- Create surveys or ask for opinions and reviews of your products.
- Respond quickly to any messages or questions from people to clear their queries.
Customers tend to be attracted to brands that deliver quality services and great user experiences. Therefore, try your best to impress your audience on these social media platforms. In doing so, you can drive more traffic to your website and encourage them to make a purchase.
2. Use Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing programs allow you to collaborate with popular influencers, bloggers, and sometimes even celebrities (or the affiliates) to promote your brands and products.
These people usually display ads or attach hyperlinks that lead to your online store to their posts, pictures, blogs, etc. When customers reach your website store via those links and purchase, you’ll pay the affiliates some fees. Some promotion methods that you can suggest to the affiliates are writing product reviews, filming a short video, or organizing a minigame.
This marketing approach is more economical than other methods because it is performance-based. It means that you’ll only have to pay the affiliate once they reach KPIs. Moreover, it’s one of the best ways to increase your brand awareness and boost conversion rates on the website.
3. Implement SEO strategies
Having a high SEO ranking means your visibility to potential customers is boosted. If your business website appears at the top of Google’s top result, the chances are that you’ll receive a huge amount of organic traffic.
To increase search results on the Google index, you can invest in technical parts of your website. As you start your online business, remember to pay attention to factors such as page load speed, fix broken links or put a focus on specialized content such as using keywords, hot topics, etc.
Week 4: Keep Track And Evaluate
1. Assess Your Business Performance
After a week of trial running and promoting simultaneously, you should spend some time reviewing its efficiency based on the profit you gain and your investment.
It may seem early, but eventually, you’ll need to measure your financial performance and profitability, so it’s no harm to practice soon.
First, you may need to check your customers’ feedback and see if they are satisfied with your products or services. Next, conduct a thorough check on your online store’s performance to get data on conversion rates, user engagement, etc.
Most importantly, you should frequently review and update the cash flow to see the balance of all the money flowing in and out of your business.
A constant check will ensure you stay on track towards your goals.
2. Fix Any Problems And Improve
Aside from doing periodic assessments, you should list all the issues, including technical problems, product and service quality, poor customer experience, etc., at the end of a month. Identifying problems will help you quickly find solutions to respond before they become major issues.
3 Tips Beginners Must Bear In Mind To Gain Success
1. Prepare A Backup Plan
Running a business requires a lot of time, effort, money, and dedication. Sometimes you get great results, but sometimes things don’t go as you want. Therefore, you should always have a backup plan to avoid damage.
2. Keep Things Organized
Being organized with your business activities allows you to stay coherent with the plan and avoid getting lost along the way. You’ll need to create a to-do list to track your tasks easily, not to forget anything, and complete tasks effectively.
3. Stay ahead of the trend
Successful entrepreneurs always know how to grasp new opportunities to develop their business further. It’s crucial to get updated with the latest news on the Internet, particularly on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Remember to broaden your network through working with partners, joining in events, or keeping an eye on competitors to ensure you won’t miss any new trends and opportunities.
Now, Do You Find It Easier To Start An Online Business?
It’s acceptable if you make some mistakes along the way. They actually play an essential part in your business growth and help you learn many valuable lessons.
Starting an online business isn’t as scary as you have thought, right? Especially with the help of modern tools, this 1-month plan even seems to be easier to bring your business into reality. So what is holding you back? Have a look at our budget-friendly e-commerce package and start your e-business today.