40 years back electronic commerce, also known as e-commerce, found its initial bearing in the world wide web that was just about to get its worldwide use. Sites like amazon which were safe, convenient and easy to use came to the fore. Today, they are some of the topmost players in e-commerce.
Since then, the internet has only kept on expanding, making the world interconnected. This was to the extent that even when the local and regional shops were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was more active than ever.
From providing entertainment through online streaming platforms to buying from e-commerce websites and online businesses, the internet became the knight in shining armor for all.
The internet is a very dynamic system. It changes so fast that 1 year on the internet equals around 5 years in the real world. What however has remained constant are the steps for starting an online business.
This article will cover the following topics:
- What is an Online Business?
- Types of Online Business Fronts
- 9 Steps for Starting an Online Business
- How can Deskera Assist You in Starting an Online Business?
- Key Takeaways
- Related Articles
What is an Online Business?
Online business or e-business is any kind of business or commercial transaction that includes sharing across the internet. This includes buying, selling till providing a service online worldwide through the internet.
Online business fronts are everywhere and it is there that its merit, as well as its trickiness, lies. While the internet is a vast platform, it is a vast platform for competitors as much as for customers.
To start an online business it hence becomes very important to find your niche and keep progressing in it. It is also equally important to have a multi-pronged approach in delivering and securing the sale of your products and services.
Types of Online Business Fronts
Some of the most popular online business fronts are as follows:
A site that sells its products and services over the internet. Almost every brand these days has its e-commerce website. For instance, Nike, Apple and Adidas. You can easily hire a web developer and get your website designed in no time.
These are the global internet shops through which you can buy anything you need from any brand of your choice. Examples of online shops/marketplaces include Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, Aliexpress
You create your content for your blog and engage with customers as well as get higher traffic and rankings through it. If you decide to sell a unique product or service to a group of people, you are using the blog to tell them about it.
Social Media Accounts
Using social media accounts for your online business is in vogue currently. Apps like Instagram and Facebook are worldwide apps that are used by nearly everyone. These platforms allow free usage in exchange for them seeing some ads. These ads can be used by you to sell your products.
9 Steps for Starting an Online Business
In today’s world, online businesses have been on a constant upward trajectory. This is facilitated by favorable market trends and proper business planning and penetration. If you are taking your business online, you already have several pros over the other physical businesses.
These pros include lesser fixed asset investments, a boundary-less market base and a crowd that favors online businesses. To ensure that your online business succeeds in the short as well as the long run, it should follow certain steps. These steps for starting an online business are:
Find a Need and Fill It
When you are planning to start an online business, your first focus should be on finding a market. A market is found based on a solution that customers are already looking for, but not finding many options.
Based on the understanding of the problem and the available solutions, your second focus then is designing a product/service for sales.
Using the internet, you should carry out market research to get more insights for your markets as well as your product. The research can be sourced from:
- Online forums to see what questions people are asking and the problem that they are trying to solve.
- Frequent and popular keyword searches that people are doing but not finding many options for from other sites.
- Visiting the websites of your potential competitors to see what they are offering to fill the demand.
Based on the results of the market research conducted by you, you can design a product/service for a market that already exists. However, your product/service should be better in quality and features than your competitors’ products/services.
As an online business, you should have a preplanned and prepared sales funnel in place. You should also have a CRM system like Deskera CRM to automate your sales pipeline and keep track of your sales in real-time. Such automation will also give you insights, based on which you can decide your next course of action.
A sales strategy should begin from the moment a customer arrives at your business till the moment that they make a purchase. It should focus on customer satisfaction to improve customer retention.
You should also hire a customer success manager who keeps a track of the customer service metrics and ensures that your customers have a good experience with your business.
A business proposal should also be a part of your sales strategy. While writing the business proposal, it should highlight the following aspects:
- Building interest with a compelling headline
- Describe the problem your product/service will solve
- Establish your credibility in solving the said problem
- Add testimonials from the people who have used your product (if an entirely new business, add the testimonials once you get them )
- Give details about the product/service
- Discuss how the product/service will benefit the user
- Make an offer
- Give guarantees
- Create a sense of urgency
This should be followed by making a sale, providing after-sales service and after a while, even offer cross-selling and up-selling options. While designing your sales strategy you should think from the perspective of your customer- “what is in it for me?”
Your sales strategy should also consider delivery options like drop shipping and courier partners like FedX and DHL.
Such an all-comprehensive sales strategy will increase account receivables, cash flow and therefore net revenue for your business.
Choosing Your Online Business Front
Based on what your business is about and who is your target market, you should choose your online business front. For instance, if your target market is primarily the young generation, you should build your presence on Instagram.
If your target market is for the business crowd and you want constant engagement with them, you should start building your presence on blogs.
With your primary business front, also keep a secondary business front like building your website. After the initial engagement, the website can either become the main place of business activities or become the perfect booster for your business with your primary front.
Choosing a combination of online business fronts for your business is a vital determining factor for how well your business is going to run.
Now, for wherever you build your presence, there are a few tips that you should always keep in mind. These are:
- The page/blog/website should represent your brand
- It should bring about brand awareness
- It should be aesthetically pleasing
- It should be clear, concise and informative
- There should be only one navigation point on it
- It should be user friendly
- The page/blog/website should use audio/ video/ graphics only if it enhances your message
- Only 1 or 2 font styles should be chosen for the whole page/site
- It should have a subscription/login option
Your online presence can determine how well your online business fares, so give it due attention.
Use Search Engines to Drive Targeted Buyers to Your Site
Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic on a brand new website/page. Pay-per-click advertising, also known as PPC advertising has 2 main benefits over organic traffic and waiting for it. These are:
- PPC advertisements show up on search pages immediately
- PPC advertisements allow you to test keywords, headlines, prices and selling approaches.
Hence, through PPC advertising, you get immediate traffic as well as discover your best, highest-converting keywords. These keywords should then be distributed and copied throughout your site so that they can help with your rankings in the organic search results.
An analysis of both will help you in determining the next move of your business. This forecasting based on the data is also an accounting tip to save you money.
Establish an Expert Reputation for Yourself
The Internet has become the new library for all. People resort to the internet to find information of all kinds. If you provide this information for free to other sites, it will bring more traffic and better search engine results for your own site/page.
You become the expert on such information and distribute it through online article directories or social media sites. In between all the information shared by you, always make sure to add links to your site.
On your website, make a point to add various plugins like “send to a friend” and “social login” with discount coupons.
By making content in text, audio and video format, become an expert for those industry forums and social networking sites where your target audience interacts the most.
By following this practice, not only will you reach new customers, but also every site which puts up your content will link it back to your page/site. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will immediately improve your rankings.
When you are an expert, it will also bring more credibility to your business thereby ensuring gross profits for you.
Use Email Marketing to Turn Visitors into Buyers
When on your page/website, you are building an opt-in/subscription list, it means that your customers and subscribers are giving you permission to email them. The entire contact sheet formed from this is one of the most valuable assets for your business.
This is because:
- You are sending them something that they have asked for
- You are building a lifetime relationship with them
- You can measure all the responses to the email
- The insights you get helps you to update your sales strategy, build your business and based on customer feedback modify your products/services to increase their satisfaction
- Email marketing is more targeted than print, TV and radio marketing making it cheaper and more effective
Anyone who visits your website and opts for these emails is a very hot lead. Email is the most efficient way to follow up on such leads.
Email marketing and follow-ups should also be automated through cloud systems like Deskera Books and CRM. These systems enable real-time tracking and analysis, along with automatic follow-ups and emails.
Increase Your Income Through Back-End Sales and Upselling
For a business to have a long and healthy future, it is essential to increase its customer’s lifetime value. This can be ensured by tracking your business’s key performance indicators.
It is found that a highly satisfied customer tends to be loyal to the business. If follow-ups are taken on them, they will tend to purchase from you more. Such customers also bring new customers to your business by word of mouth marketing.
Your business should use the voice of customer analytics to get better insights into the relationship between your business and your customers. These analytics will reveal your strong as well as weak points, which when worked upon will maximize your profit.
Further on, while making the first sale to your customer is the most tricky and expensive part, using back-end selling and up-selling techniques will get them to buy again. This can be done by:
- Offering products that complement their original purchase
- Sending out coupons that they can redeem on their next purchase
- Giving offers on related products on the thank you page after their purchase
Rewarding your customers for their loyalty towards you is the best way to get them to reward you with more purchases.
Know the Online Business Laws
Doing your business online is not without its own rules and regulations. Knowing them is essential because otherwise, they can break your business. However, if you know them in-depth, they can also make your business.
Some of these laws which need to be followed are regarding:
- Privacy and Security
- Copyright and Digital Rights
- International Sales
- Online Sales Tax
- And other domestic and international country laws that apply to your business
Follow the RITE Framework for Accounting
An online business is as prone to errors in reporting, inventory management, taxes and expenses as an offline business. These errors are detrimental to its financial reports like balance sheets, profit and loss statements and cash flow statements.
To save money on your business, it should prevent losses arising out of inefficient inventory management, incorrect taxation, mishandled invoicing management and absence of real-time reporting of expenses.
This can be achieved by incorporating automated systems like Deskera, Deskera Books, Deskera CRM and Deskera People. Not only will this prevent undue expenses, but also give you insights through which you can maximize your profits and get higher returns on investment.
Thus, the RITE framework is an accounting tip to always be followed by your business.
How can Deskera Assist You in Starting an Online Business?
Deskera is a cloud system that makes your business analytics and data available in real-time and across every device. This saves business time and money by making it possible to make quick decisions based on data that is updated and accurate.
It facilitates syncing of data across multiple devices and users hence reducing the chances of making mistakes. This also boosts the productivity of your business and workforce, while making them more efficient.
Using cloud computing systems for businesses also minimizes the expense of server maintenance, up-gradation expenses and software licensing to mention a few. In contrast, using a cloud system like Deskera will not only minimize your expense but also make the monthly subscription expense of Deskera predictable and thereby manageable.
In addition to this, Deskera Books will make accounting faster, more efficient and real-time. This will become the basis for your sales strategy as well as business decisions. Deskera books will also ensure that your business follows the RITE framework of accounting, which will save it money.
Deskera People and CRM is what will handle the customers, their experiences, customer after-sales services and their trends with your business. If any part of business functioning needs a change, it is here that it will be presented.
Through Deskera CRM, the sales pipeline can also be designed, customized and monitored. It will again give real-time feedback for the functions carried out and those forgotten. Email campaigns can also be automated through deskera.
Invoice generation, invoice reminders, and integration of tasks, inventory, tax calculations and payments due and receivable can also be brought together in one place.
Deskera is hence your go-to solution for all your business financial reports and more. It will become your guide, mentor and assistant that will help you avoid mistakes and save you money.
Starting an online business is a daunting task, but with our steps, you have a guide to success. These steps will help you start a new business as well as do a quick review of the existing business. In case you find that you have missed or neglected a certain step, carrying it out will bring more returns for your business.
These steps are:
- Find a Need and Fill It
- Sales Strategy
- Choosing Your Online Business Front
- Use Search Engines to Drive Targeted Buyers to Your Site
- Establish an Expert Reputation for Yourself
- Use Email Marketing to Turn Visitors into Buyers
- Increase Your Income Through Back-End Sales and Upselling
- Know the Online Business Laws
- Follow the RITE Framework for Accounting
So what are you waiting for? You have your guide to success, Deskera- a cloud system that will be the best friend to your business and your dream to start your online business. All that remains now is for you to start your online business and see it growing and succeeding.