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By: Cynthia Jones
When you think of starting a small business online, you might become overwhelmed with all the questions you have. At first glance it can seem a bit daunting, but as with anything, all you need to do is take the first step and continue moving forward.
When I first started my business, I thought it would be a lot of fun and I would make a lot of money. I quickly learned that starting and growing my business would require a lot of work. An idea doesn’t become a business without effort.
Many entrepreneurs understand that it will take effort to create their dream business and have that dream life they are thinking about. But when you start to consider all of the steps necessary to launch your business venture, it can seem overwhelming. You can have that successful business you are dreaming of if you take the necessary steps to reach your goal.
Tasks like naming the business and creating the logo are the first steps, but you must consider other important tasks, like determining business structure or creating a detailed marketing strategy. The work will quickly pile up, so you have to determine when and how you will begin to outsource.
I hope these suggestions will give you the necessary tools to build a business with a strong foundation and room to grow into the success it was meant to be.
1) Start by conducting market research.
Understanding your market will give you the opportunity to know if it will be a successful business. It will also help you to refine your idea.
In other words, start with your why. When things become overwhelming, it’s a great place to go back to and understand why you are developing your business.
[Related: How to Unpack Your “Why”]
2) Business plan.
Many businesses do start and become successful without one, but research has shown that planning your business increases your growth by 30%, and 71% of fast-growing companies have a business plan.
It’s important because it allows you as a business owner to create budgets, set sale goals, and document your marketing and sales strategies. You don’t necessarily have to call it a business plan – it can be your strategic plan, growth plan, or operations plan – but regardless of what it’s called, create the plan.
3) Finances are key, and you can sometimes overlook parts of your business.
Yes, you know you need to generate money, but the question of how and how much becomes the problem.
Starting any business has a price, and you must know what that price is. You must determine how cost will be covered until you start making consistent profits. You must also consider when you will leave your current job, and if so, when your stopping point is financially.
Finances are important, and many start-ups fail because they run out of money before making a profit.
[Related: Eight Common Reasons Small Businesses Fail]
4) Set up your website.
Your website is part of your marketing toolbox and how your customer will get to know you and your services. Regarding setting up your website, there are several things to consider, like the hosting platform, a design that will effectively represent your business, content marketing (blogging), and analytics.
Do not become overwhelmed with all the tech features if you are not good with technical aspects. It’s time to reach out to others who can help you.
5) Ensuring your business is legal requires a few steps.
Online businesses follow the same rules as brick-and-mortar businesses, with a few subtle differences. There are online business laws that must be followed when doing business online. These laws deal with Personal Identifiable Information (PII), as well as privacy and intellectual property regulations.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) gives a good overview of the specifics of online business law. Registering your legal structure with the state and IRS is a must, and you might want to seek legal advice when creating this structure, as there are many options.
Ultimately, starting your online business is like starting a physical storefront. You’ll need to validate your idea, write your business plan, consider your finances, set up your website, and decide your legal structure.
It’s an exciting thing to know you are your own boss and make all the decisions. But do not feel like you must go it alone. There are many people who have done it before you, so ask for help and learn as much as you can along the way.
[Related: Five Tips to Turn Your Passion into a Successful Business]
Cynthia Jones has over 30 years of experience in the corporate world. She recently started her own coaching business, Royalty Mindset, and is launching a new course soon helping start-up entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.