Looking at the online business and the e-commerce industry, we have come a long way since Amazon had sold its very first book on the Internet which was in 1995. Ever since then, the e-commerce industry has grown huge where most of the people now prefer to purchase things & services online rather than from the traditional shops or agencies.
So, in case you are planning to start an online business, then you have many opportunities to choose from. Some of the top online business models and industries that you can choose from include:
- Vacation rental services like Airbnb;
- Craft markets like Etsy;
- Drop shipping businesses like any of the multi-level marketing health supplement distribution;
- E-commerce platforms like Amazon or eBay;
- Subscription boxes like Dollar Shave Club or Blue Apron;
- Web-based clothing retail like Betabrand.com;
- Software as a service (SaaS) like QuickBooks Online; and
- Freelancing and online consulting services like Upwork and Fiverr.
Whatever you choose to do, you would still have to follow some basic steps to run your business in the USA. Below shared are the detailed steps to help you through the process:
Step 1: Decide Where & How You Would Start
You first step is to figure out how you would be setting up your online business. Would you use an e-commerce marketplace, a third party platform or just create your own website for your business? For you to start an online business, creating an e-commerce site is the most direct way of doing so instead of using a third party platform. And so that you can choose the right idea, here is a brief on each choice you have:
Using a marketplace: There are many choices to choose from if you want to start an online business using a third party site, such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and also Fiverr or Airbnb, based on what you want to sell in the market. Creating a business on these places are simpler since you would not have to make so many decisions.
But in this case, you would have to pay the third-party either by the number of listing, monthly use subscription or a service fee for each service taken up. Here are some points you need to keep in mind before you can choose this method to start an online business:
- Analyze the pros and cons of choosing a third party site: It would not seem so professional as you use another company’s site to sell your services or products. On the other hand, customers would find it easier to compare your products with others and choose wisely. Decide what is important for you and choose accordingly.
- Pick the Right Platform: Even though it is a very obvious point, it is important that you select the platform that related to what you are selling and works for the audience who would purchase it.
- Pay Attention on the thing that makes you stand out: You would have to make sure that what you are putting up for advertising your services or product makes you stand out of the crowd.
Hosting your own site: Other than using a market place, the best way is to create your own website and advertise what you are offering. You would be able to retain all the control of your earnings and what you are putting up to sell. You would be able to customize everything as per your wish, just that you would need to know how to make the process run smoothly and work out well. Here are some tips for this idea:
- Concentrate on the user-experience: The biggest thing that you need to take care of is ensuring that your website offers the best user-experience. In short, you need to choose the right design, and make sure the shopping cart suits you business. Explore your options in this case to use the best one.
- Decide if you need to build your website from scratch or not: It is not important for you to build the website from the beginning. You can use templates from Shopify and Squarespace to simply the process. In fact, you do not have to be a professional in HTML or coding for this.
Step 2: Plan Your Business
From the beginning, it is important to start your idea by planning it well. Also, to always stay ahead and grow to become successful in what you do, it is important to take business planning as something you would do everyday; not just in the starting phrases of the company. Here are some tips to help you out with planning your business:
- Create a Lean Business Plan: Instead of working always on the longer goals, first work on the smaller one. It would help you in \in distilling our plans to reach the end stage.
- Determine if your ideas would have a place in the market: It is important to see if your product is needed in the market. You would not succeed if no one wants your product.
- Give thought to the metrics & funding: Make a strategy for the sales to track so that you know if you are going in the right direction. Keep checking the metrics and editing it to ensure that you are growing. Also, note all the expenses you would need for each stage in your business and from where you plan to get the funds.
Step 3: Create a Website
Once your business plan is ready for you to start an online business, the next thing is to set up your website before you can begin the business ventures. Here are the things that you would have to handle under this step:
- Choose a Business name: Select a name that no one is using and ensure that the domain name is available for you as well. Ensure that both the business name and the domain name are the same as well since it would be used as your brand name in the market eventually.
- Set Up Your Website: Purchase the domain, set up the hosting system, and begin to build your website. If you are not a professional in this, it is better to hire some help to have it prepared for you. After this has been done, you would also have to take help in marketing your website.
- Make it mobile-friendly: When you choose the template for your website, ensure that it mobile friendly since many people tend to use their mobiles to surf websites these days.
- Focus on Image Quality: With the world evolving and thing becoming better, people love to see high-quality images. For this too, you can hire a freelance designer so that you do not stay back in this step.
- Consider Blogging: Even though content marketing isn’t a part of your main marketing plan, it is a great idea to start a blog on your website. You would not need to spend much on the customization and content, and it would help you gain more traffic.
- Think about affiliate partnerships: Monetize your website with the help of on-site ads and affiliate partnership. It would help you gain more clients faster.
- Don’t Forget About the Site After setting it: As soon as your website has been launched, do not leave it like that. Keep working on small things that can help you increase the sales. Also, keep tracking the website to see the monthly insights.
Step 4: Make Your Online Business Legal
To start an online business doesn’t just mean that you need a website, it would help you better if the company has been registered as a legal business. It would seem more professional and people would trust your credibility more. Here are some of the steps that you would have to take care of when making your business legal:
- Read all about the online business regulations: When you start an online business, it is not the same as the traditional brick companies. In the same way, the rules too have some differences. Hence, it is better to understand all about the various business laws for an online business. The best way to be well informed is by hiring a local agency or lawyer to help you out.
- Register Your Business: Select your business structure to register and incorporate your company with the government. The best business entity is an LLC due to the various tax benefits that it offers along with the liability protection. You can hire a professional agency like Inc Paradise to help you with the registration process.
- Study all about the tax obligations: You would need to be ahead of all the tax liabilities. And for that, it is important to learn all about the various tax obligations. You can take the help from a professional accountant or lawyer to ensure that you do not miss any important part in it. Also, remember that you have three different levels of tax obligations – local, state and federal. Ensure that all are followed to avoid any heavy penalties in the future.
In the end, for you to start an online business, you would need to follow these steps which are different from the steps in starting a traditional business. You success in this idea depends entirely on how your business plan, your website and the marketing. Once you are ready with your idea, you can begin to work on it. And for help in registering and incorporating your business, contact IncParadise!