How to Start an Online Business: Best Platforms to Reach Customers
Just a century ago, you needed 25 times the average monthly income to even hope to start a small business – now, you only need two in most of the developed world.
The ease of doing business is one of the reasons why we are so prosperous because it unleashes productivity and innovation. One of the easiest, cheapest, and best places to start a business isn’t in a physical location anymore, but, rather, it is online.
An increasing number of small and even medium-sized businesses have zero presence offline, and they do everything online. Here’s how you can become part of that group and start a business online.
Decide Which Platform You’ll Begin With
Nowadays, entrepreneurs have a lot of options on how to start an online business.
While having a website gives you an edge and most likely help you have recurring customers, you can create a sustainable online business without owning a website.
There are multiple platforms and tools you can use to achieve your aims. It all depends on what kind of business you want to run:
- Social media: if your service involves a lot of communication and is directed towards older people, maybe you only need a social media account to start your business. There is a large and ever-growing community of ever-online over-50 old people in most of the developed world that require a lot of services. You’ll be able to start small and on cost on social media.
- E-commerce platform: if you want to sell products online, you need to create an e-commerce platform. Thankfully, with the proliferation of tools and guides, it is now easier than ever to be up and running with your own e-commerce platform. If you’re starting small, however, you can sell your products through Amazon and eBay. This way, you don’t need to start from zero, as there are many people using those platforms already.
- YouTube/Instagram/Twitch: if you’re creative and love to put yourself out there, these platforms are an excellent choice. While many people don’t traditionally think of these as businesses, but successfully establishing yourself in any one of these platforms means a large sum of money and social capital.
- A combination of platforms: there’s no need to limit yourself to one outlet. Many people have a social media account and a website. Others use startups like Fourthwall to easily link their YouTube channel to their e-commerce platform. Having a presence in more than one place is an excellent way to diversify your sources of income, but you, however, need to be aware of the increased cost and time you’ll need to manage your presence on these platforms. Fourthwall can help you with that, but not every tool is capable of it.
Get Your Name Out There
Now that you’ve decided on a platform, it is time to get your name out there. The Internet is a large competitive space, and everyone is vying for others’ attention and time. If you are really thinking about establishing a business online, you need to learn how to build a brand, market effectively, and get your name out there.
Make Sure You Collect Data
Knowledge is power is perhaps the most overused phrase in English, but it also holds true here. If you want to ensure your continued success online, you must collect and analyze data. Learning which of your products/services your customers are interested in, learning the demographics of your primary clients/viewers/consumers, and learning the changes in the wider market will all go a long way to ensure your continued success. You must never underestimate the power of data.
Getting a Website for Your Online Business Eventually
When your online business starts growing, I’ll advise you to get an eCommerce site as this will help boost your brand, bring recurring customers, and eventually boost sales.
Simple Steps to Creating an eCommerce Site
- Get a Domain: The first step to setting up an eCommerce site is getting a domain name. It is important you create a domain that depicts what you’re doing. If for example, you’re selling fitness products, you shouldn’t register a name relating to software or sports. You can visit Namecheap to get affordable domains. They also have a domain name generator that can help suggest available domains for you.
- Host your site: The next step towards setting up an eCommerce site is getting a WebHost. A web host is a service provider that provides the technologies and services needed for your website to be viewed on the Internet. There are many web hosting companies out there. I use and recommend Bluehost. They even offer you a free domain. You can check them out and make your choice. They’re both pocket-friendly.
- Platform: This is the CMS you need to set up and design your eCommerce site. WordPress is the most popular Content Development System and I recommend it. They also have eCommerce-ready templates and plugins like Woocommerce that will make the work very easy for you. If you’re setting up an eCommerce site with Woocommerce, you might not need the help of an expert to completely set the site up. It’s that easy.
Once you’re done with setting up your online store and uploading your products, the next step is to start promoting your site on different social media sites as well as using Google Ads to target your prospective customers.