The past decade has seen the Internet grow exponentially, resulting in the high-profile successes of many Internet-related businesses. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that many of us want a slice of the action and launch our own online business. With so much competition out there however, there are some crucial steps that must be considered.
1. Creating a business plan
Your first port of call should be creating a business plan that outlines your goals and aspirations. Before writing this plan you should consider your target market, your competition, how you propose to attract funding, how you want to build customer loyalty and how you can forge alliances with strategic partners. According to Jeffrey Macklin from FDUK, the plan itself should tell a simple yet compelling story that will leave the reader wanting to know more. Jeffery recommends a succinct and accessible plan of no more than 20 pages.
2. Establishing your market
A key element in setting up any kind of business is establishing whether or not there is a market for your idea. You should aim to find a niche, and if your idea has already been done, consider what you will do differently.
These days there are many different options available when it comes to financing your business and you may find that it comes from several sources. Bank-backed finance such as loans and overdrafts tend to be the cheaper option when compared to selling shares or equity, however equity investment may suit businesses keen not to increase their level of borrowing.
4. Your website
Buying your website can set you back varying amounts – a basic one could cost as little as £500, while a top of the range one could cost up to £20,000. If you are not able to build the website yourself, try asking friends or colleagues for recommendations or look online. Aim to keep the site clean and simple to gain people’s trust in your site. Update content regularly as innovation and invention are essential when it comes to online businesses.
There is no point in having an incredible website if no one knows where to find it. This means you need to invest in marketing and advertising. Sites such as Google AdWords are cost effective as you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Utilise social networking and search the Internet for forums relating to your business. It is also advisable to learn more about search engine optimisation (SEO) to help your site become more searchable.
Starting any business from scratch is hard work, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t have much income revenue at first – it will take time to grow and develop.
To find out more about the financial side of starting a business, take a look at our starting a business fact-sheet.
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