Starting your own business is an exciting time. With the digital landscape constantly evolving and becoming more key to our day-to-day lives, there’s never been a better time to start an online business. Gone are the days where you had to have a physical shop, now you can run your business from the comfort of your own home using nothing more than your laptop.
Whether you have a unique product or service to offer or simply want to explore the possibilities of the digital world, this blog will provide you with essential steps to kickstart your online business. This is particularly important when considering financial planning and strategic decision-making.
Develop a business plan
Before launching your online business, it’s important to create a business plan that outlines your business goals and how you intend to achieve them. Start by conducting thorough market research to understand your target audience, competitors, and potential demand for your products or services. Make sure you define your pricing strategy, marketing approach, and anticipated expenses – these can be higher than you think too so make sure your research is accurate.
If you haven’t got a clue where to start, why not take a look at our free 7 day guide to starting your own business? It’s full of industry tips and tricks to help get your business off to a flying start. We’re even offering a free consultation with a start-up business expert (worth £175)!
Your plan may change later as you learn but starting out with a well-structured business plan will serve as your roadmap and ensure you don’t get lost down any rabbit holes.
Determine your start-up costs
Starting an online business involves various costs that must be assessed and budgeted for. Consider things like website creation, domain registration, web hosting, e-commerce platform fees, inventory, packaging materials, marketing campaigns, and professional services, for example, accounting or legal assistance.
Create a detailed budget that includes both one-time start-up costs and recurring expenses. This will give you a good idea of how much your business is going to cost to run and how much your profit margin needs to be.
Stay compliant with financial and legal regulations
We know – this bit can feel a bit boring! It is however very important that you ensure your online business adheres to financial and legal regulations. Failing to do so could lead to some nasty and costly consequences further down the line.
Make sure you register your business with the appropriate government authorities and obtain any necessary licenses or permits. Familiarise yourself with tax obligations, including VAT (Value Added Tax) requirements if applicable. It’s also vital that you keep accurate financial records and consult with a qualified accountant to ensure compliance with accounting standards as well as optimise tax planning.
You’ll also need to consider things like whether you need a separate bank account and whether you should be a sole trader, limited company or a partnership. Again, a good accountant will be able to assist you with this.
Build an online presence
This one will (hopefully!) be pretty obvious, but to succeed online you need to build a strong online presence.
Selecting an appropriate domain name is crucial as it will be the foundation of your online presence. Choose a name that reflects your brand and is easy to remember and then register that domain name. Next set up a website that is visually appealing, user-friendly, and optimised for search engines. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly, as more and more people are now using their phones to browse the internet – in fact over half of website traffic now comes from smartphones! If you’re planning to sell physical products, you’ll also want to make sure the website platform you’ve selected is compatible with this.
You’ll always want to get yourself set up on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to connect with your target audience and promote your products or services.
Take some time to develop a content strategy that includes blog posts, informative videos, and eye-catching visuals that accurately reflect your brand and products/services. Make sure to interact with your audience regularly too as that is how you build a community.
If you’re not sure about where to start when it comes to digital marketing, you may want to consider using the services of a marketer or marketing agency to help you get going.
Ensure your payment process is secure
Putting secure payment gateways in place is vital to provide a safe and seamless shopping experience for your customers. Choose trusted payment processors that support popular payment methods such as credit cards, PayPal, or digital wallets. Implement SSL certificates to encrypt sensitive customer data and protect it from potential cyber threats. If you’re using a system to store customer data, you’ll want to make sure these are secure as well.
If you’re struggling with getting your online business started and want financial or business advice, contact us today to book an appointment.