The Internet offers vast opportunities for business visibility and reach. Across the globe, businesses of various sizes and types are utilizing these opportunities to expand and extend their reach beyond local boundaries into new territories. Are you contemplating starting a business? Then, consider starting an internet business. How do you start an Internet business?
In this article, I will share how to start a successful Internet business. Whatever business you want to start, you don’t have to do it alone. At the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program, we help you start, set up and scale your business. Learn everything about the program here and enrol.
Reasons You Should Start an Internet Business
Low Barrier Entry
Starting a new brick-and-mortar business often involves substantial investment costs across all production factors, which can be a significant deterrent. However, internet businesses significantly reduce or completely eliminate these expenses.
Startup costs such as rent/lease, product inventory, utilities, and more are greatly reduced or removed, depending on your business’s size and service offerings. You don’t have to risk your life savings or incur debt to become a successful online entrepreneur. You can begin by utilizing various free online tools to build and scale your business before considering enterprise solutions as you grow.
More individuals are becoming comfortable with conducting online transactions, indicating that your internet business holds the potential for rapid growth and expansion.
Brick-and-mortar businesses face real-world limitations, such as insufficient foot traffic or closures due to human or natural disasters, which don’t impact internet businesses.
Your internet business operates round the clock as long as your website is live, granting access to millions of potential customers worldwide, contingent upon your business niche.
Diversified Income Streams
Another advantage of Internet businesses over their offline counterparts is the ability to generate additional revenue through multiple income streams, such as online ads, affiliate links, and sales of online courses and e-books.
With online infrastructures like a website and social media platforms, your business already possesses viable means of income generation through content creation and sales, distinct from your core product or service offering.
Create a More Personalised Experience for Your Customers
Internet businesses facilitate closer and more personalized relationships with customers due to available tools for collecting and tracking relevant data based on user behavior on your online platforms.
This collected data enables fine-tuning of your product/service offerings, nurturing the growth of your relationship with customers. Consequently, this fosters improved business growth and expansion.
Having explored some advantages of starting and running an Internet business, let’s delve into how to start an Internet business.
How To Start a Successful Internet Business.
1. Determine Your Business Niche
What area will your business focus on? Your business focus area, or niche, involves deciding what products and services you’ll offer and to whom (your target audience). For instance, will you sell groceries, fashion items, and antiques, or provide computer repair services? This step is fundamental in starting a successful internet business.
How To Choose a Niche For Your New Business
- Seek a challenge (a pain point) for which no satisfactory solution currently exists.
- Is there a willingness among your target audience to pay for the solution you’ve developed?
- If your answer to the previous question is yes, consider: How affordable is your solution? In other words, does your prospective customer base have sufficient discretionary income to afford your solution?
These three factors play a crucial role in assessing the viability of a specific business niche. Keep in mind, avoid investing resources into your internet business before objectively testing the viability of the chosen niche.
2. Conduct Product Research
The second key to launching a successful internet business is focusing on the specific product category you aim to sell online. Consider these categories:
i. Physical Goods
These tangible items require manufacturing and potential warehousing before shipping to customers upon order. With countless variations available, target a complementary cluster sharing similar storage and shipping infrastructure.
Decide whether to warehouse goods or opt for drop-shipping upon customer orders. While selling physical goods holds potential for profit, vigilantly manage operational costs to ensure a healthy profit margin.
ii. Digital Products and Services
This category includes online courses (audio/video), e-books, software, and SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings. Stored in the cloud, these items eliminate the need for physical warehousing. Creating them demands specialized skills and can yield higher profit margins. If you possess these skills, take steps to make a positive impact.
Offer professional services online, such as makeup artistry, fashion illustration, architecture, or wedding planning. Selling services offers a swift path to a successful internet business with lower startup costs and potential profitability.
In this service-oriented category, you sell both your time and skills, limiting the number of simultaneous jobs. Scaling the business to an agency may be necessary to handle more jobs by hiring additional staff and standardizing processes.
3. Research and Learn About Legal Requirements
Starting and running an internet business might demand fewer licenses or legal permits than a conventional brick-and-mortar setup. However, it’s crucial to conduct due diligence by researching the necessary legal requirements to ensure your business operates legally.
You may need to consider the following:
- What type of legal structure is most appropriate – sole proprietorship, limited liability, partnership, etc.?
- Are there specific permits, licenses or regulations governing a particular business niche you intend to operate?
Industries such as food and pharmaceuticals are highly regulated. Therefore, if your business operates within these sectors, it’s essential to ensure compliance with the law in all your internet business operations.
4. Conduct Market Research
To comprehend the depth, competitiveness, and profitability of your business, conducting market research is pivotal in its initial stages. This research serves to validate your product idea, pricing, and demand.
Here’s a guide on conducting your business market research:
i. Harness Google’s Insights
Begin with your trusted search engine—Google. Explore various keywords related to your product or service, analyzing the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This analysis reveals the content ranking on the first page and highlights top non-organic results, providing insights into your competition.
ii. Study Your Competitors
Look beyond SERPs to scrutinize offline competitors. Identify prominent brands in your intended business niche to understand how they sustain profitability. Assess their strengths and weaknesses.
Dive deeper into your primary competitors. Who are the key players in your niche? What revenue are they generating? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
A focused examination of competitors in your business niche can unveil potential competitive advantages for your business. Identifying these opportunities allows you to leverage them effectively, giving you an edge in the market.
Read also, Best Businesses to Start Right Now.
5. Define Your Target Audience
Businesses exist not in isolation but to fulfill the needs of their customers. This fundamental truth is crucial when initiating your internet business. Understanding your target audience enables you to drive sales, expand, and eventually scale your business.
To gain profound insights into your potential target audience, delve into understanding their needs and preferences by researching both their demographic and psychographic data.
These encompass fundamental socioeconomic traits like age, gender, ethnicity, income, job title, and more.
Psychographic data involves an array of psychological characteristics such as values, beliefs, interests, opinions, and beyond.
These insights empower you to develop a comprehensive understanding of your ideal customers’ pain points and purchase triggers. Consequently, this understanding enables the crafting of personalized products and services tailored to your customers’ needs.
6. Source Products to Sell Online
Congratulations on reaching this stage in your journey to start your internet business. Now, it’s time to source the products you’ll sell online. How can you do this?
i. Creating Your Own Products
For those in the digital products niche, this could be the ideal route. You might also manufacture physical products if that’s within your product category.
Manufacturing your products, especially physical ones, demands significant effort in terms of design, material sourcing, and quality control. However, it offers advantages like superior quality, diverse product range, and distinctive branding over your competitors.
ii. Utilizing Dropshipping
The dropshipping business model involves collaborating with manufacturers or wholesalers, featuring their products on your website. When orders come in, you simply pick up these items from your partners without the need for manufacturing or warehousing goods, as your sales operate on an on-demand basis.
7. Product Viability Evaluation
At this stage, it is important that you set out by sampling your product offering to your target market and critically evaluating the reception your products/services got.
Now, it’s crucial to initiate the process by presenting samples of your product offerings to your target market and carefully assessing the reception they receive.
The viability of your product offerings hinges on your answers to the following questions:
The viability of your product offerings will depend on how you answer the following questions:
- Are there other successful online businesses that are also selling products like mine?
- Is the demand for my products sustainable in the long term or is it seasonal?
- Do the numbers behind my product sales make sense? What are my operational costs and profit margin?
Keep in mind, if the numbers aren’t aligning, resist the urge to proceed with the products, regardless of how enticing it might appear.
Starting a new Dropshipping business? Get this Step-by-Step Guide on how to start here.
8. Business Brand Definition
Your business brand embodies how you intend your business to be perceived entirely. Creating a brand identity that aligns with your product offerings and resonates with your target market’s values is crucial.
Consistency in your visual representation and messaging across your online channels bolsters a sense of reliability and trustworthiness among your target audience.
9. Launch Your Online Business
Launching your internet business involves selecting and setting up your preferred online platform for selling your products and services. Here are three primary sales channel options to consider:
Personal E-commerce Websites
This option entails building your e-commerce website using numerous available free or paid web design platforms. It provides complete control over your site’s appearance, functionality, and customization.
It’s advisable to utilize a paid web hosting platform that ensures robust security and swift page loading speeds, optimizing the shopping experience for your customers.
A personal e-commerce website offers customizable delivery channels but requires more investment in terms of cost and setup time.
Social Media Platforms
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer built-in tools for direct product and service sales. They also provide lead generation opportunities that can translate into sales. However, using this channel limits control over branding and checkout customizations.
These platforms enable listing products and services under subscription or commission-based arrangements. With existing audiences and established structures for online sales, these marketplaces facilitate quicker sales upon signup.
However, this arrangement limits control over product assortments, branding, order fulfillment, and faces stiff competition from other sellers. Examples include Jumia, Konga, Amazon, Jiji, among others.
Do you want to increase your sales lead? Find all you need and more in the comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plan Template.
10. Grow your business
The last piece of advice on how to start a successful internet business involves growing it by directing traffic to your online business platform(s). This can be achieved through the following channels:
- Social media marketing: Cultivating audiences on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and others is a cost-effective and straightforward method to drive organic traffic to your online business platform.
- Paid advertising: Allocating a budget for pay-per-click ads on Google search results and social networks is an effective strategy if your budget allows.
- Influencer partnerships: Collaborating with online influencers provides a swift pathway to showcase your products to your target audience.
- Optimizing for SEO: Ensuring all website pages are SEO-optimized and maintaining a consistent content marketing strategy for your blog is crucial.
- Email marketing: Building an email subscriber list from visitors to your online business platform allows for promoting products and services, and fostering repeat business through inbound marketing efforts.
On a final note, starting a successful Internet business is a wise business decision for many people as a result of the huge market audience available in the country. We believe that you should also take advantage of this boom in the e-commerce and logistics sectors of the economy by transforming your passion into an economic value, and by so doing, creating wealth for society at large.
If you want to work with us to start a profitable and sustainable business, then enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program. We will take you from idea to starting your business in 30 days.
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