Updated: Dec 5, 2019
There is no golden rule or parameters of starting an online business but there is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you're starting a small business online. These seven are steps are being used by thousands of entrepreneurs and have been proven to be successful:
Find a need and fill it.
Write copy that sells.
Design and build an easy-to-use website.
Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
Follow up with your customers and subscribers with email.
Increase your income through back-end sales and up-selling.
Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.
Step 1: Find a need and fill it.
Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.
To increase your chances of success, it is preferable to start with a market. Find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:
Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they're trying to solve.
Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they're doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you've learned and create a product for a market that already exists and do it better than the competition.
Step 2: Write copy that sells.
There's a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:
Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
Describe the problem your product solves.
Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
Make an offer.
Make a strong guarantee.
Ask for the sale.
Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people's problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask "What's in it for me?"
Step 3: Design and build your website.
Once you've got your market and product, and you've nailed down your selling process, now you're ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone's attention--otherwise they're gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:
Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
Make it easy to buy--no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.
I'll help you create one that works.
Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.
Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Related: Best Success Habits in Business
Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you'll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information.