How to Start an Online Business in 10 Steps

With the business world being in a constant state of reevaluation, resurgence, and reinvention, learning how to start an online business has quickly become the go-to strategy for first-time founders. After all, with the current state of the world, most things are taking place digitally online.

The increase in online businesses and a shift towards a more digitally-driven operational landscape has become a necessity rather than an additional feature. 

As such, eCommerce has skyrocketed in popularity due to its versatility, adaptability and worldwide availability.

Still, learning how to start an online business is multifaceted, and there are countless sources out there chomping at the bit to share their online business ideas. 

With this overloaded and often overwhelming plethora of information, it can be challenging to break through the noise and boil down the critical, must-know fundamentals.

While dedication, hard work, and commitment are at the forefront of any successful business, there are still a few elements that can make or break an online business. 

Even if you learn how to start an online business successfully, it takes diligence to scale it and ensure profit longevity.

Even for those with already established businesses, taking their business online and establishing a key SEO and Digital Marketing Strategy is essential to building a Unique Selling Proposition and maintaining a competitive edge.

For first-timers, all this may seem daunting. 

However, we are here to help.

Today, we will be covering 10 easy-to-follow and straightforward tips for starting an online business to get you started and heading in the right direction.

This article will cover:

What is an Online Business?

Information technology, the Internet and entrepreneurship have never been so closely intertwined as they are right now. 

In a time when consumers and business owners alike are inherently, and sometimes even unhealthily, dependent on their various devices, technology is a driving force for a majority of daily activities and interactions.

This fact is especially prevalent and pertinent when it comes to learning how to start an online business. 

After all, one of the first rules of business is identifying demand. People want instantaneous availability whenever, wherever, so deciding to start an online business is great because it already meets this particular need.

Essentially, an online business, also referred to as e-business, is any organization or commercial company that conducts its commerce online.

 In other words, the key revenue-generating resource for these businesses is eCommerce and eCommerce stores. Whether providing a product or service, the business is done via the Internet.

The essential difference to establish here is that not all businesses are online businesses, but businesses can be taken online.

An eCommerce website isn’t just another revenue stream – it could be the lifeblood of your business. Here’s  Why an eCommerce Website is Essential to Grow Your Business.”

If you got your start in a more traditional way, such as a brick-and-mortar store, there are still advantages to establishing an online presence for your business.

At this point in history, taking already-established businesses online is becoming a means of survival.

According to recent research, economic experts predict that, in ten to 15 years, organizations that are not represented online may cease their activities completely.

In this way, if you own an already-established business, it can be hugely beneficial to take your services online and offer digital solutions. 

Such services typically include allowing customers to purchase a product or service and have their items delivered. This added integration creates a seamless shopping experience that echoes the same convenience from physical stores to the digital eCommerce site.

10 Helpful Tips to Learn How to Start an Online Business

As we said, there is a myriad of things to consider when developing online business ideas. There are even more to consider if you want to develop good online business ideas.

When starting an online business, the list of tasks to establish yourself can seem intimidating. 

Luckily, we have developed a list of 10 starting points to set you on the right track.

1) Establish a Niche

If you’re looking to start selling right away, slow your roll. First, you need to find the right product or service with the genuine potential to be profitable. 

This is where first-time entrepreneurs often fall flat because they are trigger happy just to get started without putting in the necessary foundational groundwork.

The niche you choose will have an overarching impact on several business operations. Such areas include your sales figures, the amount of customer support necessary, and whether you will have repeat customers.

All of these factors incorporate to determine the overall feasibility of your online business idea.

2) Conduct Market Research
how to start an online business ecommerce

Market research is a must to start an online business successfully. Once you have an online business idea, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see how viable the product or service actually is.

This stage is where you need to weigh the pros and cons and determine what factors could make or break your business. Visit online forums, ask your community, or just poke around to see what issues and questions people are raising and the particular problems they are trying to fix. 

Conduct keyword research to find the terminology that people are most widely searching for where there isn’t a lot of competition with other online businesses and eCommerce sites. Visit other competing online businesses’ sites and note both the positive and negative aspects of what they’re doing. Are they meeting all of their customers’ demands? Where do they fall flat? 

This process is especially crucial if you’re looking into entering a market that already exists. 

From there, you can take all of this information and apply it directly to your product to give it a competitive edge.

3) Create a Unique Selling Proposition

The basis of the business world as a whole is grounded in the concept of healthy competition. As unique or original as you believe your idea to be, there is likely at least one other business pursuing the same lead.

However, this isn’t to say that competition isn’t good. It’s a motivating factor to drive your business to be the best that it can be. It also serves as an inspiration to develop innovative and creative ways to set your business apart. 

In other words, to draw in more attention and develop a loyal consumer base, you must create a Unique Selling Proposition.

A Unique Selling Proposition is your business’ “x-factor” that sets it apart from all other competitors. 

It serves as the distinctive advantage or leverage that your business idea has over others that provide similar if not the same product or service. 

This proposition should be prominent and readily noticeable to your target audience through marketing initiatives and Brand Services.

Your business is your brand, there’s no separating the two. If you’re a small business, branding is doubly important. Here’s 7 Reasons Your Small Business Should Focus on Branding.”

4) Identify Your Target Audience

Once our business idea becomes more formulated, then comes delving deeper to understand your ideal customer. 

Who is your product or service meant to help? What issue is it trying to solve? 

Once you establish a specific demographic or target audience within your niche, dig more into what your customers like, who they are, and how you can adjust your offerings and online business strategy to appeal to these individuals.

Ultimately, a business won’t last long if it can’t catch the eye and maintain customers’ attention, making this a key step in learning how to start an online business.

It’s easy to tell from a customer standpoint when an online business’s heart isn’t in it or if it doesn’t put effort into getting to know its clientele. 

This lacklustre attitude speaks volumes and could seriously impact your customer loyalty and, subsequently, your profits.

After all, there are no profits if there aren’t any customers. 

Even if you grow to be a multi-billion dollar organization, this fact should be at the heart of every business strategy.

5) Brainstorm a Name and Register Your Domain

Once you’ve put in the necessary legwork to find a niche, research competitors, find what sets your business apart, and identify your key customer base, it’s time to put a name to your online business!

Like the lovesick Romeo said in Romeo and Juliet, “what’s in a name?” Well, when it comes to business, a lot!

As we’ve outlined above, there are many moving parts when figuring out how to start an online business, and all of them will play into your businesses’ name. 

Many first-time business owners feel a lot of pressure when trying to determine an appropriate name. 

It’s understandable. It’s a big deal. 

Ultimately, it’s what’s going to go on all of your branding, merchandise, and how everyone will recognize your company.

That said, there are a few helpful hints for picking the right name:

  • Choose something that is easy to pronounce.
  • Choose something that has some significance to your niche or the backstory of your business.
  • Be as original as possible.
  • Choose something with an available domain name.

The last point is absolutely crucial. 

At the end of the day, this article is about how to start an online business. If your company name isn’t an available domain, that could pose a significant problem. 

Of course, there is some wiggle room, but establishing an easy-to-find .com domain is crucial if you wish to gain as many eyeballs to your site as possible.

6) Determine Your eCommerce Platform
small-business-website-design-guide-and-tips
WordPress is a free website builder that has a variety of themes you can choose from. (https://wordpress.com/)

eCommerce can be an intimidating topic to approach. It’s a buzzword that is constantly appearing everywhere in the online business world, but what does it mean?

Essentially, an eCommerce Website is a site that is specially designed to sell products and services online. 

It is an optimized site that favours customer experience targeted at driving sales and increasing revenue. 

These sites’ primary objective is to create an online portal where customers can purchase your product or service in as straightforward a way as possible while remaining financially secure.

However, when determining which platform will best suit your business idea, there are multiple types to consider. Namely, they are based on who is selling and who is buying.

Examples of eCommerce websites include:

Business-to-Business (B2B)

These eCommerce sites are focused on selling products and services to other businesses. In this way, their content should appeal to other business owners instead of the general public and made to be more industry-specific.

Bustiness-to-Consumer (B2C)

These are the most commonly found eCommerce site. Their primary focus is on customers from the general public purchasing products or services from a business.

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)

This last example is an online platform that allows individuals to buy, sell, and transfer goods, typically through a third party company. Examples of this would be Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

The type of website you’re planning on launching affects the kind of Content Management System, or CMS, you’ll be using. If you’re what a CMS is, or which one to pick, be sure to check out our article on our 9 Reasons to Choose WordPress as Your CMS for SEO

7) Invest in SEO

Your online business will only get so far without a comprehensive SEO Strategy. SEO, or search engine optimization, is essential to acquire free targeted traffic while also attracting new customers to boost sales.

Pay-per-click-advertising, or PPC,  is one of the easiest ways to generate traffic to your new online business site. 

However, SEO is free in the sense that it will not cost you dollars. However, it will take considerable time, effort, and patience. Still, the rewards are well worth the additional work.

That said, the traffic that comes from organic search rankings, which is driven by SEO, is just what it says – organic. 

Meaning, users are coming to your site because they are searching for specific terms or questions regarding the product or service you provide, not because you paid to bring them there.

These leads are likely to be more credible and help your online business establish brand and customer trust. 

Not only that, but the results are far more sustainable than someone clicking on an ad, resulting in higher click-through rates and increased scalability.

To get your site ranking with organic traffic, you need an SEO strategy. Learn how to launch your own SEO campaign in SEO Campaign: 7 Steps to Relevant Content and Long-Lasting Traffic.”

8) Monitor Your KPIs

KPIs, or key performance indicators, provide valuable insight into how well your businesses’ site and overall operations perform. 

They are the metrics used to analyze and evaluate your company’s most relevant goals and objectives.

KPIs are a quantifiable metric that clearly demonstrates the success of various aspects of your business in numerical value instead of basing it on subjective opinions. They are categorized by the measurement they reflect.

The four primary categories for KPIs are:

  • Target
  • Measure
  • Frequency
  • Source

Suppose your eCommerce business does not have defined KPIs. In that case, it will be incredibly challenging to understand the correlation between all the time and effort you put in and if it’s paying off. 

Even if you feel that things are going well, your KPIs may say otherwise. Data and numbers don’t lie. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of key eCommerce KPIs you have to know.

9) Realize the Value of Content
Advesa's own Insights blog has quality content in business culture, design and marketing. (https://blog.advesa.com/blog/)

Content Marketing is no longer an option but a necessity in today’s saturated and incredibly competitive business world. If you are not providing a steady stream of relevant, engaging content, your customers will quickly find another company that does.

Sharing valuable content also serves to set you apart from other competitors who may not be investing as heavily in this particular area. 

Investing in producing quality content will establish you as a thought leader and expert in your particular niche while also creating a deeper, more interactive relationship with your customers.

Content marketing extends throughout every aspect of your business, from social media to sales copy to blog posts and videos. This one thing can impact everything and create a ripple effect by developing a more personable relationship with your customers, driving brand awareness, and driving sales.

10) Pursue Your Passion

When it comes down to it, if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t ever be 100% invested. 

Discovering how to start an online business and following through on the various commitments it entails can be a tough and unforgiving process. You must be passionate about it in order to succeed.

If you want a business that is going to last while remaining profitable, you need to be dedicated and devoted. 

If you can’t see yourself pursuing this goal, or if the fire in your belly to get it off the ground isn’t there, it may be time to pursue a different business idea and pivot to something that you genuinely care about.

Your customers will quickly tell if you don’t have the conviction and motivation, and it will reflect in how well your business does in terms of big picture success. 

Find something that excites you, inspires you and drives you, and it will make a world of difference.

Key Takeaways on How to Start an Onine Business

We hope this list of tips and tricks has helped encourage you to get your gears moving and your business off the ground! Heading into the world of business, especially as a first-timer, may be intimidating, but use this nervous energy and channel it into making your dreams a reality and realizing your business’ full potential.

As long as you stay true to what matters, remain loyal and considerate to your customers, and invest resources where it counts, you are already on the right track on your journey to success.

There will never come a time when the business world does not need newcomers with fresh ideas and new perspectives. It’s what drives innovation, inspires change, and breaks barriers to reveal an unrelenting and formidable realm of endless possibilities.

Learning how to launch an online business might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. 

The first step is always the hardest, so if you ever need a hand digitally launching your business or otherwise, Advesa Digital is here to help. Whether it’s creating a custom-tailored website from scratch, creating marketing collateral, or obtaining more organic traffic, we work with you to help you grow your business better. Contact us here for a free consultation to see how we can help you start your online business!

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Written By Emily Rumball

A Content Writer at Advesa, Emily is a self-proclaimed tea addict (her favourite being a nice, strong English Breakfast), animal lover, and eager traveller. When she isn't jet-setting off to the next far off destination, she enjoys spending quality time at home in Vancouver.