How to Start an Online Business In 8 Steps

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How to start an online business

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Your Simple Guide to Starting an Online Business in 8 Steps

Do you want to know how to start an online business quickly?

Starting anything new can be scary, but don’t let fear, time or resources stop you from starting an online business.

Whether it’s to earn some extra cash on the side or to build a business you can go full-time with one-day, starting an online business does not have to take months.

If you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, you can learn as you go and take simply daily action, you’ll see it’s not just possible for you to start an online business whilst in your day job, you can do it quickly too.

Starting an Online Business

Starting a business as a newbie is like fitting pieces to a giant puzzle together, that you have no picture for.

So, you don’t really know what it looks like. You don’t know where to start. You can’t see the corners. You just don’t see anything that looks like it belongs together.

So, you get overloaded with information from all these different places with all these different people telling you what you need to do and what pieces to start with.

With the 8 steps below you’ll be able to start your business in small bite-size chunks, no confession just results.

Step by Step Instructions on How to Start an Online Business

This is your online business quick start guide. But before you start here are some things to consider.

How much does it cost to start an online business?

You can start an online business for as little as $50. I’ve included both free and low-cost tools & resources below.

Do I need a business license to sell online?

This depends on where you live. Please check with your local authorities. In the UK you don’t need a license. You will need to register as self-employed within 3 months of earning money in your business.

How to start an online business 1

Step #1: Nail Down Your Idea + Your Niche

You need to start with an idea, and you need to know the market you will serve.

You can start with either a business idea or with a market/niche. If you’re stuck for ideas check these out.

For example, you either have an idea to start a blog that you monetize but have no clue what you’ll write about.

Or you know the market you want to go into is digital marketing but have no clue what business you can start in that market.

The important thing to remember at this stage is that this is the big picture idea, later you’ll need to niche down to have complete clarity on;

  1. Who you want to serve [Your Ideal Client]
  2. How you will serve them [Service + Products]
  3. Is there a need for what you will offer in the market? [Market Need]

Example; if you’re starting with the idea of monetizing a blog, and you like the digital marketing niche.

That’s a huge market, so as a newbie you’ll need to niche down. You love social media, particularly Instagram so you’ve decided to go for that niche.

You now need to think about who you want to help with Instagram. Is it small businesses, is it digital marketers or bloggers.

Then how you will help them? Will you teach them how to get started, how to get 10,000 followers or how to become an influencer fast?

What’s the easiest business to start?

The easiest and quickest business to start is a service-based business.

Start thinking about the types of services or products you’ll offer.

Are you going to offer coaching, courses, consulting, eBooks or a membership site? [we’ll dig deeper into this in step 6.]

Next, you’ll go find out if who you want to help needs what you want to offer, by doing some quick research. Facebook groups are great for this. You can jump into a group and search for terms like “need help” or “struggling with” to see what people are struggling with.

Coach’s Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t feel like an expert in the market or thing you want to do, ask yourself is it a skill I can learn and implement or teach others? Am I willing to write, talk and learn more about this subject for the next 3-5 years of my life?

Step 1 Action Steps

  1. Brainstorm Business Ideas. [25 mins]
  2. Brainstorm Niches you love or are a customer in. [25 mins]
  3. Look at both lists, do any of the items on the lists crossover? [15 mins]
  4. Take your Business Idea and Niche and Brainstorm who your ideal client would be. [25 mins]
  5. Brainstorm services + products you can offer. [25 mins]
  6. Do some market research in Facebook groups + Quora; what are people asking for help within your chosen niche? [40 mins]
  7. Find 5 other businesses doing what you want to do. Look at their websites + social platforms. What services are they offering? Who are they targeting? [40 mins]

For an in-depth action plan along with resources to help you get started,

Download the Online Business Creation Roadmap.

Step #2: Name your business

Once you’ve nailed down your business idea + niche, next you need to name your business.

When naming your business, you have 2 options; give it your name or choose something more unique.

I’ve done both, even recently rebranding my business that was originally my name into something unique that represents what I do.

So, how do you decide which way to go, well it depends on how you want to run your business.

Do you want to create a brand-independent of you or do you want to be the brand and central to business activities? And also, what services are you going to provide.

And remember you can always keep it simple by just using your name and rebranding later when you’re making money.

Step 2 Action Steps:

  1. If you’re going with your name great go-to action step 4 below.
  2. If you want something unique first brainstorm some name ideas. [25 mins]
  3. Now take those ideas to these business name generators [25 mins];
    1. Shopify Name Generator
    2. Namelix
    3. Name Mesh
  4. Pick 3 names you like and head over to Namecheckr to see if they are available on social media and domain name availability.
  5. If none of them, are available, start again.
  6. Pick one out of the 3 to be your business name.

Step #3: Brand Your Business

Developing a brand that stands out and people connect with is essential in a competitive market.

And every market online is competitive which is a good thing.

A brand is not just your logo, colours and fonts. It’s about your brand voice, the language you use, how you want people to think about.

What would your ideal client say about you to someone looking for your service or product? How do they feel when they think about your brand?

Developing a brand voice

You need to develop your brand voice.

What do I mean by brand voice?

Example: Think of 2 of your closest friends. Pick 3 words to describe each of them.

When you think of each of them how do they make you feel? If you need to be cheered up which one would you call? If you need sound advice which one would you call?

That’s what brand voice is. It’s how you make your ideal client feel.

It’s as if you’re a friend and you call [no caller id] and they picked up the phone and heard your voice, they can tell who it is.

In business, this is shown through the language you use in your blog post, website and marketing. What images you choose to use and how you use them.

You can start to develop your brand voice by asking yourself the questions I asked you about your 2 best friends. Answer these questions about your business.

And remember always keep your ideal client in mind when doing this and anything in your business.

Logos, Fonts & Colours

Once you’ve decided on your brand voice it becomes so much easier to choose your fonts and colours based on what you want your customers to feel about your company and the position you want to be in.

You can use the following tools to choose your fonts and colours.

I suggest choosing 2 fonts, 1 for headlines and 1 for paragraphs. Then pick 2 to 4 colours to use. One will be your main brand colour whilst the others will be your backup colours.

Once you’ve chosen your colours you can either design your logo yourself using Canva or PicMonkey. Or you can hire someone to design your logo either at Fiverr or 99designs.

Consistency

Once you have your colours and your fonts, make sure you use them consistently on your website and across your social media platforms.

Step 3 Action Steps

  1. Develop your brand voice
  2. Choose your brand fonts
  3. Choose your brand colours
  4. Design your logo
  5. Create a Brand Board

Step #4: Setup Your Website

It’s time to set up your website. And to ensure you don’t spend weeks on this step, you need to plan out your website with good old pen and paper before you try to start creating it.

Decide what you want your website to do for you and your business over the next year. So, think about the services and products you want to offer.

Are you going to want to start a membership site, do you want to sell digital download directly on your website?

This will help you to decide what you need in your theme and what plugins you may need.

Step 4 Action Steps

  1. Plan Out Website
    1. Features you want + the look and feel of the below pages;
    2. Homepage
    3. About Page
    4. Contact page
    5. Services/ Products/ Work With Me Page
    6. Blog
    7. Legal Pages – Privacy, Cookies + Terms & Conditions
  2. Buy your domain name
  3. Buy your hosting [I recommend Siteground for the annual plan or Hostgator for cheap Monthly plan]
  4. Upload WordPress [easily done through your chosen host]
  5. Upload the essential Plugins.
  6. Setup the Coming Soon plugin + page
  7. Select your theme;
  8. Upload theme to WordPress
  9. Start customizing site + adding your content

Coaches Tip: Start with a landing page that builds your mailing list. While building your website set up a landing page so you can start getting customers on your list.

For an in-depth action plan along with resources to help you get started,

Download the Online Business Creation Roadmap.

Step #5: Claim Your Social Media Assets

When you were on Namecheckr you would have seen which social media platforms were available for your business name. Now it’s time to go and claim your social media assets.

Where Your Ideal Client Hangs Out

But first, you need to figure out where your ideal client is hanging out. You should have a good idea of this through the market research you did.

If you’re still not sure then use my social media selector checklist to select your top 2 platforms.

This is to avoid trying to be everywhere and getting overwhelmed.

Focus on having a primary social platform and maybe a secondary. But never more than 2 that you’re focusing on when you’re starting.

Primary Platform & Secondary Platform

Your primary platform should be where you will focus all your energy when you’re first starting out.

You’ll build your tribe there; connect with other businesses and promote all the things you do. This will be the platform you master first. When you’ve mastered platform 1 you’ll start to master platform 2.

For example, you’ve chosen Instagram + Pinterest as your platforms.

Pinterest will be your Primary platform. You’ll focus all your energy into learning everything you can about Pinterest and making it work for you and your business.

Whilst on Instagram you’ll post every day but not be in there daily interacting with others.

Step 5 Action Steps

  1. Select your Primary Social platform [15 mins]
  2. Select your secondary social platform [15 mins]
  3. Set both platforms up [40 mins]
  4. Buy a book, take a course + subscribe to a blog focused on your primary social platform
  5. Pick a social media scheduler [Recommend: Buffer or Tailwinds]
  6. Create + Curate Content and start to share on your chosen platforms

Step #6: Know How You’re Getting Paid

You’re in business to make money, right?

So, you’ve got to figure out pretty quickly how you plan to make money online.

In fact, you should have figured this out during your research phase right at the start.

Now it’s time to put your minimum viable product or service together and start offering it to your tribe.

Products & Services You Can Offer

Some of the types of products/services you can offer are;

how to start an online business infographic

Your First Sales Funnel

As you’re just starting out it’s better to keep it simple. You want to come up with the following;

  1. Core offer; this is your main service. Your core offer will help you develop a tripwire and your freebie.
  2. Tripwire: a small part of your core offer you can sell at a massive discount that will turn leads into customers. It should offer massive value, be simple to implement and give your customers a taste of the full core offer.
  3. Lead Magnet: This is your freebie offer, that will again give massive value, should be focused on providing 1 solution that gets your ideal client closer to solving their problem. It should lead easily to your tripwire.
  4. Upsell: the final offer you should design is your upsell. When someone has bought each of your products including your core offer what else can you give them that would make implementing the core product easier.

So, using the example we’ve been using; a Blog on Instagram marketing.

Your freebie could be a checklist for setting up an Instagram profile that converts followers into leads, the tripwire could be a mini-course on themed content for your profile then your core offer is a course on how to get your first 10,000 followers.

You can then upsell an Instagram consultancy/coaching session.

That’s a basic rundown of what a sales funnel is.

Tools for offering the services

To sell these services online you’ll need some tools. Some of the tools I’m going to suggest below will help deliver your products and services as well as getting paid.

Courses

Both have free versions to get you started.

eBooks and digital downloads

Again both have free versions.

Coaching, Consulting + Freelancing

Tools for Getting Paid

You’ll have to connect some of the services mentioned above to payment processing services and there are only 2 big ones most people use, and they are PayPal and Stripe.

Tools for Keeping Your Finances in Check

You need to get this right from the start. As a Girlboss you need to have your finances under control.

I want you to develop good habits when it comes to managing your business finances.

So get an accounting system in place right away. Some of the invoicing systems above also work as account management systems. But here are a few more;

Step 6 Action Steps

  1. Choose the products/services you’ll offer. [25 mins]
  2. Map out your sales funnel. [25 mins]
  3. Choose the best tools for your product and sales funnel. [40 mins]
  4. Choose and Setup your accounting system. [40 mins]
  5. Create your minimal viable product or service. [2-3 hrs]
  6. Build out your sales funnel. [2-3hrs]
    1. Opt-in Landing page
    2. Thank You, Page
    3. Welcome email
    4. Product sales page

Step #7: Setup Your Marketing Systems

You’ve created your minimal viable product. You’ve got your sales funnel built out. It’s now time to start driving traffic to your content and products and start making sales.

Basic Marketing System

Your main focus at the start should be to grow your mailing list. That means driving traffic the landing page for your freebie.

The quickest and cheapest way to do that is through social media.

Then when someone opts into your freebie the next page they land on will be your tripwire page that encourages them to buy a low-cost offer related to your freebie + core offer.

They either take you up on the tripwire or not. You then take them to your thank you page.

Once they are on your list you will have a series of emails that introduce them to who you are and what you offer.

You will then give everyone on your list as much valuable information that helps them and of course promote your core offer to them.

Once someone has taken you up on your core offer, remember to upsell to them.

And that’s what a basic sales and marketing funnel looks like.

Step 7 Action Steps

  1. Choose an email service provider.
  2. Start building a landing page for your freebie. [25 mins]
  3. Create a landing page for your tripwire. [25 mins]
  4. Also, create your Thank You page. [25 mins]
  5. Write your email welcome series. [25 – 40 mins]
  6. Design your social media promo images for your freebie. [25 mins]
  7. Write a blog post that relates to your core offer then add your freebie as a content upgrade. [2-3 hrs]
  8. Start promoting your freebie and blog post on your social media platforms. [25 mins]

Coach’s tip: To really supercharge your marketing, find a blog you can write a guest post for and pitch an idea.

Step #8: Officially Launch Your Business to Your Tribe

It’s so easy to just make publish your website and do some promotions for your opt-in and get started, without celebrating the moment.

That’s what launching is about. You can mark the event with giveaways or special launch offers on social media.

When you’re building keep sharing your progress to your online tribe and celebrate the launch with them.

This will also drive subscribers to your list and get your business started on the right foot.

Conclusion

So yep, this is a big post, because there are a lot of pieces to fit together to start your online business. Even for a quick guide.

Let’s recap;

  • Step 1: Nail Down Your Idea + Your Niche
  • Step 2: Name your business
  • Step 3: Brand Your Business
  • Step 4: Setup Your Website
  • Step 5: Claim your social media assets
  • Step 6: Know how you’re getting paid
  • Step 7: Setup Your Marketing Systems
  • Step 8: Officially launch your business to your tribe.

The trick to not feeling overwhelmed is to only focus on the current step and action you need to take to move you forward.

Take step-by-step consistent action, and you will start to get the results you want.

Ask yourself, what will move the needle? What you need to do next for your business not what everyone says you should do.

Selective consumption is essential.

Only consume what you need to learn what you need to know now.

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About Me

Hey, I’m Lorraine P. Emmanuel, a Business Coach and Course Creator who teaches amazing women like you everything I’ve learned over the years about how to start an Online Business while still working full-time.

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