How to Launch Your Online Business
Not so long ago it seemed that launching an online business was the modern-day equivalent of the California gold rush – everyone wanted a piece of the action. New sites were springing up on a daily basis offering all manner of products and services, and social media feeds were filled with tales of people making seven figure incomes in the space of a few months or less.
The reality is that plenty of opportunities to launch a successful online business still exist but if you want your enterprise to endure and fulfil a genuine need, it’s important to take your time and follow the essential steps if you want your enterprise to endure.
Start with a plan
A well-written business plan should be an impressive document, but its real value is not the plan itself but the work that goes into preparing it. Conducting in depth research into your market and thinking about how your business is going to operate in a systematic way means you will lean valuable lessons even before you go live.
In the online world, experience is everything. If you don’t have sufficient, consider partnering up with people who do, or better still, gain direct industry experience by working for someone else before you set up on your own. Failing to carry out sufficient in-depth preparation before you launch could lead to a series of very expensive mistakes.
Invest in yourself
Although the costs of starting an online business are far lower than those of a traditional enterprise, it’s a myth to believe that you don’t need any capital in order to get started, especially if you want to ensure your business has the solid foundation it will require in order to grow.
Although there are plenty of free services available which look as though they will be able to help you to get your business off the ground, the very fact that they are free is usually a warning sign that they are only really fit for purpose if you are setting up a site as a hobby rather than a for-profit company. In order to unlock the full set of features available you usually have to pay a fee that may be higher than the cost of simply purchasing the right software or services in the first instance.
It’s also a mistake to believe that you can’t start to move forward with your business until you have the backing of a solid team of investors. In reality, the business idea has to come first and, once you have proven the concept, the funding can follow.
Test the idea
Around six out of ten new business ventures fail within the first three years. The reason? Some people are in such a rush to make sure they get their business out there before someone steals their idea that they forget to spend time testing to see whether it actually works.
When it comes to testing, old school is best. While you can do a great deal via the internet from the comfort of your desk, it is far better go out and meet potential customers face to face and get direct feedback. These are, after all, the people who will eventually decide whether the product of service you are offering is worth paying for, so no one is better placed to answer the question about whether everything works the way they want it to than they.
Build an audience
Once you are sure that you have an idea that can go the distance, it’s time to get the rest of the world excited about it. Word of mouth and social media are a start but the best online business or website in the world is useless if no one gets to see it. Once your enterprise is up and running and getting some serious traction, you’ll want to invest in the services of a company such as webvisitors.net who specialize in driving traffic to your site. The more visits you have, the higher your sales will be.
You can also build an audience for your site in the early stages by setting yourself up as an expert in your field. Volunteer to appear on podcasts or write guest posts for blogs. Become the controversial, outspoken, go-to person in your industry to get your name and your face out there as often as possible. As long as you can back-up your comments with the right sort of business know-how, people will be willing to listen to what you have to say.
Follow the money
Plan your monetization strategy right from the start. Companies like Facebook launched with no real idea of how big they would end up being and it took years for them to work out how to monetize themselves. It wasn’t a problem for Facebook because the sheer size of the userbase paired with all the information the company holds on its account holders opened up a wealth of opportunities. If you’re starting from scratch, having a clear plan for how you are going to make money is the future will make it much easier to attract investors further down the line.
Don’t be tempted to simply say you plan to follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest brands out there. While that may well happen, you’ll need to be able to offer something a little more concrete if you want to get the funding you need to take your business to the next level.
Celebrate your employees
If your company succeeds, the people who were willing to take a chance and join you right from the start are going to be part of an incredible journey. Don’t let them become disconnected from their work, especially as the company grows and their roles change. Instigate meetings among your leadership team and encourage them to have their own say about the progress the company is making.
With millennials set to represent more than 50 per cent of the workforce in the next few years, make sure your office culture fits in with their goals by publicly celebrating employee achievements, having a flexible dress code and promoting health and wellbeing.