Guide to start an online business
In case you have decided that you wanted to begin an online business, you might be highly enthusiastic to start providing the services or products that you have to the potential customers. Nonetheless, before you walk straight into starting an online business and running it, take the time to learn all about it.
Starting an online business needs proper pre-planning and then establish the company carefully. By taking the steps slowly and deliberately, you would be able to recognize and take care of any potential roadblocks that come in the way of your success. A strategy that has been well-thought-out can assist you to reach many more customers and make sure that your company is on the way to become a success and grow.
Even though the way you would interact with the customers after starting an online business is not the same as the traditional business, the procedure of building your business and operating it smoothly is the same in both cases.
Starting an online business has the same steps just like opening any other company. The only difference is that the process of getting online is less expensive, easier, and faster as compared to opening a traditional business that has a physical appearance. And one of the reason is that you would not have to look for a real estate to lease, purchase office fixtures, equipment, and furniture or even pay for the things like the utilities.
Select the Service & Products
With the plan of starting an online business in mind, you might have a good idea of what you want to offer. Nonetheless, it is crucial to have a clear conception of what you would accurately provide the customers as soon as the business starts and even in the future.
While you plan for everything, envision what you want to see your company in a years time and in 10 years time. And it is obvious that in the beginning, you would not be able to be sure about what services or products would do well and which would not. Even though you can have the idea of what might happen to an extent, it is advised to leave your business plan open for any expansions and modifications to what you initially thought of as the services or products.
Determine If You Want to Incorporate/Form an LLC or Own the Business Yourself
Before starting an online business, it is important to decide what type of company you want. You can choose if you want to own the company under your name (where it would be a Sole Proprietorship if you are the only owner or a General Partnership if more owners are there), or if you want to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Corporation.
But in case you choose to establish an LLC or incorporate the company, the owner of the company would be that LLC or Corporation while you would own the LLC or Corporation. There are a lot of different merits and demerits for all cases: being a sole owner, starting a partnership, forming an LLC or establishing a Corporation.
The business structure that you choose would depend on the facts and circumstances at hand. And if you are not sure about which to choose, it is advisable to consult an attorney or a tax professional for making the right choice.
Name Your Business
It is obvious that you would need a good name for your business if you are starting an online business, but this process is not that straightforward as well. There are some legal considerations that have to be taken care of. If you are the owner of a General Partnership or a Sole Proprietorship, the true or legal name is the name of its owners or owner.
On the other hand, the true or legal name of an LLC or a Corporation is the name given to it on the formation document. Moreover, if you want to do business in another name that is not the legal name of the company, you would have to register that name under the “doing business as” (or DBA) or “assumed” name with that state or country.
Additionally, in case you are establishing an LLC or a Corporation, the legal name that you choose has to be available. This means that no other company should have the same name in the state or even the country. You can find out about the availability with the state business entity filing office.
Other than this, there are marketing considerations where you would want your customers to associate your service or products with your business name even if it is a word that you have made up, or is a descriptive tag. And due to this, it is advised to stay away from overly clever, confusing or long names that your customers would not understand easily.
Also, it is important to check if another company is not using the same trademark that you have in mind before you begin using that to market your business. This would cost you a lawsuit. The best way is to hire a trademark attorney to have a search made for any company that uses the same trademark you have in mind or already created.
Obtain Necessary Permits & Licenses
Almost all the businesses which also includes the online ones have to get the business permits and licenses. Starting an online business would also need you to register your company with the appropriate local and state agencies as required by the jurisdiction. In short, you need to fulfill all the permits and licensing that are required.
Moreover, many of the businesses would also have to acquire the federal tax ID number, register with the respective tax authority of their state, comply to the worker’s compensation and unemployment requirements, and pay the local and state sales taxes.
Understand Your Market
Before starting an online business and launching it in the market, it is vital to conduct some market research. This would assist you with the right information that would help you to put your company on the right track right from the beginning. Begin by analyzing economic data and demographics presented by all the government agencies which also includes the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
You can also make the efforts to conduct your own research on the competition that you have and gather all the valuable information that would let you know how the competitors are putting themselves in front of the public. Moreover, you would also be able to find out all about the tactics they are using to reach out to their customers.
In case your business would have an international scope, it would be good to investigate your services and products in the market of the countries in which you are about to open.
Create a Marketing Plan
With all the essential tasks that were mentioned above for starting an online business, you would already have your marketing plan draft ready with you. The things like defining your business, researching your competition and identifying your customer base are the things that would have helped you to determine the sales and marketing goals of your business along with the strategies that you would need to use to achieve them.
Starting an online business means that you would need to have the ability to drive the right and potential customers towards your website if you want your business to be a success. And for driving the “free traffic” to your website, you would need to optimize your site for SEO. Other than this, you might also need to work on the online paid advertising like Google AdWords that would attract customers in a much faster way.
Email marketing and social media play a vital role in reaching new customers online as well as maintaining the existing ones. But there is one thing that you need to keep in mind: ensure that the online marketing strategies comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s Rules regarding communication.
Some rules include, that you avoid making any misleading or false statements regarding your services or products. And if you are selling any products online, you would need to meet the 30-Day Rule of the FTC that states that you should have a reasonable justification to believe that you would be able to ship the purchases that the customers make within 30 days.
Create a Website
Starting an online business obviously involves having a website and a decent domain name. This would be the most vital element for being successful online. After you have decided the right domain name for your website, you would need to register that and even choose a website host.
When all this has been done, you would either need to design your website on your own or get the help of a professional to develop your site into something worth visiting. It has to be in mind that your website portrays your business. Hence, it is crucial to have it designed properly so that it can aid your potential customers in getting the right information that they need or are looking for.
And if your website is an e-commerce one, ensure that the process if highly simple and secure. In the end, it is how you create it and display the things on your website that would matter.
How can Inc Paradise help?
In case you are starting an online business, Inc Paradise can offer you with assistance like registering your business or getting the permits and licenses required. To learn more, contact us today!