Ever wondered how to start a business online? It might be easier than you think because there are so many tools on offer that even the most inexperienced, least web-savvy person can create an online presence and set up shop.
Whether you begin with a side hustle or want to go full steam ahead with your enterprise, an online business can be as small and low-key as you need, or as big and hairy as you dare.
How to start an online business – Step by step guide
A successful online business can lead to untold rewards: financial independence, control over your working hours and career path, meaningful customer relationships, and the satisfaction of building something special. But starting an online business can feel overwhelming, with so many options out available. With this step-by-step guide, however, that long process has been distilled down into manageable chunks that will get you up and running faster!
- Come up with your online business idea.
- Find out if there’s a market for what you want to sell by researching other online businesses.
- Identify competitor businesses and see if you can do something differently or better.
- If you’ll be selling products sourced from other suppliers, reach out to suppliers and negotiate terms.
- Settle on a website platform that’s right for your business and what you’ll be selling (e.g. e-commerce for physical products, brochure-style for services, learning platform for digital courses, etc.).
- Choose a domain name that’s SEO-friendly, easy to spell, and memorable.
- Establish your branding with a logo, font, colour scheme and imagery.
- Build your website.
- Establish your social media channels and link them to your website.
- Ensure quicker visibility by investing in digital marketing activities.
- Launch your online business!
It’s important to note that you don’t have to invest in an expensive, ‘bells-and-whistles’ website. There are plenty of easy-to-use website builders that are very low cost, or even free. For instance, you can set up a retail website quite easily, with minimal web design skills, thanks to the likes of Shopify and Squarespace. With Wordpress, you can build an online store, a business/brochure-style website, an online portfolio, a directory or forum, or a portal where customers can download online courses.
TOP TIP: Start simple! Focus on functionality and customer-friendly features.
Clever reasons to start an online business
Feel like dipping your entrepreneurial toe in the world wide web? Here are nine exciting reasons to start an online business.
- Be your own boss.
- Indulge in a creative passion.
- Earn additional income (which could become your main income source).
- Enjoy 100% freedom and independence.
- A low-cost way to test an idea to see if it gains traction.
- Low overheads (no rent, commuting costs, etc.)
- Access potential customers/clients all over the world.
- Work from anywhere in the world (where there’s an internet connection).
- The flexibility to live by your preferred schedule.
While you’re here, you might like to download our FREE guide: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a New Business.
Different types of online businesses
The online world is your oyster, with limitless opportunities and vast potential! Think of what kinds of online businesses you deal with, either for work or in your day-to-day life. Which of these may suit you?
- Retail – Source products that you can purchase at wholesale prices and retail them online. It could be candles, clothing, pet bowls, car accessories, bike gear, or any number of other items. Do you make or personalise anything yourself? From dolls’ clothes, cupcakes and winter beanies to slogan T-shirts, digital products and greeting cards, there are loads of things you can sell online if you give it some thought.
- Dropshipping – This involves you partnering with a wholesaler who is set up to ship their products directly to your customers, who purchase from your retail website. Amazon offers dropshipping, check it out. Or, discover 22 dropshipping suppliers specific to Australia here.
- Digital downloads – Are you a whiz with words? Could you create tutorials? Start a regular podcast? Write an online course? You could even write recipe books or personal training guides, add photos, maybe even videos, and sell them online. Create once, sell countless times.
- Service businesses – Create a website to advertise the services you offer. You might start a catering or dog-walking business in your area, or perhaps you’re a personal trainer, business coach or counsellor.
- Virtual service businesses – With a virtual business, you can attract clients from all over the world. As you’ll see below, there are many, many vocations that are perfectly suited to a virtual environment.
Ideal industries that work well as online businesses/virtual consultancies
Some types of businesses were just made to live online. With cloud-based tools plus email and social media to make life easy, it’s now infinitely possible to establish and run an online business from your very own bedroom, garage, co-working space, or tropical island (as long as there’s internet access!).
Do you have skills or qualifications in any of the following?
- Graphic design
- HR consultancy
- Virtual assistant
- Web design
- Social media management
- Transcription services
- Translation services
- Public relations
- Business coach
- Data entry
- Student tutor
When starting an online business, you’re in charge! You pick your hours, your products, how you do business, and how much you want to grow. Why not explore the online business world for yourself today?
You don’t have to feel alone when starting your online business. MiTraining offers a fantastic Certificate III in Entrepreneurship and New Business. We offer weekly and fortnightly payment plans, so you can start the course when you’re ready and pay for it at a rate that suits you.