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How to start an online business

Starting an online business can be daunting. Approaching it one step at a time with extensive preparation and supportive tools turns the journey down the road to success into a smooth ride.

Missing piece

First and foremost, find out what is missing from a specific market. Entrepreneur Magazine recommended avoiding tackling a new business venture by creating a new product. Instead, tune into online conversations in a variety of industries. Discover what it is that consumers discuss most and see what an industry may be lacking. Find a problem and then go about developing a solution, not the other way around.

Write a plan

Creating a business plan is very important. In addition to defining the purpose and goals of a company, the business plan can help garner the support of investors as the organization grows. For those just starting an online business, the U.S. Small Business Association advises elaborating on background, education and experience when drafting a plan. Mention the reasons behind the new business venture and what issue the online company intends to remedy, along with solid information on how the solution will be reached.


It may be obvious, but an online business needs a terrific website. Visitors' first impressions go a long way, especially when first discovering a new business. Make sure it is professional, intuitive, friendly and simple. If there are multiple pages on the site, keep the formatting the same on each one. Continuity is important when earning the loyalty of new customers and creating an identity. When it comes to the copy on a website, remember to explain not only what problem the product solves by why and how this solution is better than any other. Ensure headlines are intriguing, grammar is correct and there are no spelling errors. Sprinkle in opportunities for people to purchase products or incorporate a simple button for users to connect or join an email list.

Get the word out It's hard to run a successful business if no one knows about it. Do everything possible to spread the word about this new online venture. Advertising online is critical to increasing site traffic. Forbes encouraged the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that have advertising capabilities. Along with Google, these are typically pay-per-click ads, but they definitely reach wide audiences. The business name needs to become immediately recognizable.

Another great way to generate website visitors is with high-quality content. Unique and informative blog posts about industry trends will alert potential buyers to the significance of this new online enterprise. Offering free trials is a great way to earn supporters and generate feedback.

Continue selling

Once the first few sales roll in, be sure to follow up with these initial buyers. Tactics suggested by Entrepreneur include back-end selling and upselling. To those consumers who have already purchased from the business, send coupons via email, thanking them for their purchase. Offer additional products that are similar to or go well with their first purchase. Reward customers who refer friends and family. Remember, roughly 36 percent of customers who purchase once will return a second time if they receive follow-up communication.

Be an expert

Earning consumer trust involves knowing the product and its industry inside and out. Again, offering a fresh, entertaining and intelligent perspective on a topic can increase how often the information (and the business) is shared across social media and internet forums. The very people that discussed a need for this product online and inspired the venture may now be advertising its brilliance. Get involved in this conversation and link back to the website.

Starting an online business is certainly an adventure, and hopefully these steps will make it a fun one.

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