Starting your own business is not easy. You need to plan each step in advance. It all sounds easy in theory, but once you start the process, a lot of questions start to pop up. Where to start? How to build a strategy? How to protect yourself from risks? We've created a checklist for you to start your own business properly.
The business plan is critical
You cannot deny it. If someone says they started a successful online business without a preliminary plan, they are either lying or manipulating the facts. Can a car be produced without wheels? It's possible, but you won't be able to drive it. The same is true with your own internet business.
What is one business plan? It is a detailed document that includes:
- general information about the business: a description, initial investments, return on investment and projected profit;
- analysis of the market niche, as well as trends that influence it, predictable phenomena, strengths and weaknesses;
- marketing plan, which lists the planned methods of positioning and promoting the business, the value of the planned costs for this, the results of the analysis of the target audience, as well as the factors that influence the formation of prices;
- competitor analysis: list of the main companies operating in the same niche with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each one of them listing the sales and marketing methods used by them;
- product analysis: from the selection of suppliers to the delivery of the goods to the customer;
- operational plan. A detailed description of the business that lists all the features it needs to run;
- financial plan. Set of calculations for performing commercial activities. This includes the value of the investments, the budget allocation principles, the amount of planned revenues and expenses in the first year of operation, the calculation of the efficiency of the investment, the projected payback period. No investor or lender will consider a business plan that does not have these calculations.
Company legal status
Check the list of types of businesses that can be opened on the website. IRS and find the one that's right for you. Working with a regular company provides a legal basis for doing business. For a rising e-commerce entrepreneur, the following options are suitable:
- Individual entrepreneur is the simplest way. The owner makes management decisions independently and is ready to be responsible for their consequences;
- Limited partnerships is a very common option. Each of the partners participates in the project and is involved in making strategic decisions;
- Partnership means conducting business on the basis of a legal agreement. Every owner's goal is to make a profit.
After choosing the right structure, you can register your company with the legal bodies and then follow the plan.
When did you make a business plan, you needed to know what you would sell, who you would order from, and what retail price you would set. Now it's time to plan the product variety in detail, analyzing the characteristics of each product. Once you receive a ready-made list, you can contact suppliers and discuss terms.
Choosing a marketplace
After planning the main business processes, you can start to develop a commercial website. You should start by choosing the ideal place to work. To do this:
- Understand how the website should be. Is it a niche store or not?
- Describe your target audience and your business positioning.
- Think about how you plan to expand your business.
This will help you choose the online platform that's right for you. In most cases, you can start selling on the Internet without developing your own website: using the resources of some marketplace. For example:
- AliExpress is an easy place to start as entry requirements are simple. To sell at a profit, you will need to find cheap logistics options;
- Amazon has a serious selection of sellers. It is necessary to fulfill the requirements related to partners, product range, service quality and price objectivity;
- eBay is for b2b and the requirements for sellers on this site are quite strict.
If you don't want to rely on marketplaces, you can create your own website using an online builder. Every year, experts publish the lists of the best platforms, therefore, look for the one that best suits your business and find out what the entry conditions are.
Create a brand
How to become noticeable among so many competitors? One of the most effective ways is to use branded visuals. It is possible to win loyal customers not only with the help of a favorable pricing policy, but also by professionally identifying the company. In order for your company to be recognized, you will need:
- brand visual elements.
The last point refers to the website header, photos for social media profiles, publication templates, etc. You don't need to be a graphic designer to create these visual elements. There are builders that are simple to use and able to automatically develop a logo and other visual branding elements for you. the service of Logaster is one of those options.
Remember that your website design must be in harmony with the expectations of the audience in a particular niche. For example, a bright color scheme is suitable for a children's store, while neutral colors are better for a computer store.
Choice of domain name
- The domain name, that is, the access address of your website, should ideally match the brand name. However, the vast majority of domain names of up to 7 characters are already in use. That's why you will have to be creative. It is important to follow the following rules:
- use as few characters as possible;
- the domain name must be read correctly on the first attempt;
- the name must define the specifics of the activity;
there must be no ambiguous interpretations of the name.website development
If you decide to create a website on a specialized platform, the development process will be a set of simple configurations, which goes from registering product pages to sending content to the created pages. You will need to predict the following:
- creation of informative pages on “Payment and Delivery”, “About the Company”, “Contact Information”, “Exchange and Return”;
- division of product variety into thematic categories to facilitate customer choice;
- Creating a blog: will attract new customers and keep old ones.
Also indicate the product features and price on each page, attach photos and videos and reviews. You can also provide details on availability of items in stock, shipping costs, and provide a link for comments.
Set up a custom shopping cart
On the one hand, this configuration is simple. On the other hand, competition in e-commerce is so great that even the color and size of the cart icon are important. To create a comfortable interface for users:
- provide easy access: create a large button and highlighted icon;
- ensure the cart page is simple and easy to understand;
- allow changes to orders at all stages of the sale;
- ensure that unexpected extra costs do not appear during purchase formation;
- provide an easy-to-navigate interface for users;
- offer the possibility to place orders with or without registration;
specify other options for finalizing the order (for example, offer help through whatsapp).Promotion and advertising
Making sales will depend on the number of customers that will be attracted to your website. Develop your store in two directions:
- Short term perspective. Contextual advertising is an effective tool to attract customers. Learn how to run ads and set up targeting, analyze results and calculate performance (or hire experts). If advertising is set up correctly, customers can show up on the first day of campaign launch. A significant drawback to this method is the reduction in customer flow after advertising stops.
Long-term strategy. Optimize and promote your site on search engines Customers coming through organic search will cost less than those coming from contextual ads. The better your site is ranked, the more traffic it will get.
Great! The site is working, the traffic is growing, the sales dynamic is pleasing. Is it time to relax? No! It's just the beginning. When you have reached your first goals, continue:
- check your website, look for bugs and fix them;
- try to guarantee the availability of all products and the renewal of varieties;
- follow the news and trends;
- communicate with the target audience: respond and react to criticism;
- make sweepstakes, promotions and discounts;
- explore the site's sales and performance analytics data to find ways to improve your performance.
These ten steps are universal instructions for you to prepare yourself to start a business and have a controlled risk. Of course, we cannot guarantee that these tips will provide guaranteed success. But it's definitely the beginning. You need to make your own decisions. Do this deliberately to achieve success systematically.