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Your Guide to Starting an Online Business in 8 Steps
Do dream about starting an online business but feel Overwhelmed by the amount you need to learn?
Are you suffering from information overload and don’t know where to start with all the information online?
Do you think that with all you have to learn and do, it’s just not possible for you to start an online business whilst in your day job?
Stop! Because I’ve got you.
The days of quitting your day job to go live your business dream are over.
It’s all about building your online hustle whilst still in your day job and only quitting if you want to, and when your business is paying for the lifestyle you want.
Starting an Online Business from Scratch
Starting anything from scratch when you’ve never done it before can be overwhelming and when you’re starting a business it’s even scarier because there’s just so many pieces to the puzzle.
Imagine getting a box that’s full of pieces to this amazing puzzle, however, there’s no picture on the box.
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.
That’s what starting a business can be like. When you know nothing about starting a business.
It’s like having been given a massive puzzle that you need to fit together, but you just don’t know where to start with all the little pieces in front of you.
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.
Your Online Business Roadmap
Well, that’s why you need to have a roadmap.
A roadmap that tells you where to start, where to finish and what your next move will be.
A roadmap that guides you on what the next thing is that you need to learn and do to get your online business started.
That is what we’re going to cover today. This is your roadmap to getting started.
Online Business Step #1: Nail Down Your Idea + Your Niche
So where do you start?
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.
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;
- Who you want to serve [Your Ideal Client]
- How you will serve them [Service + Products]
- 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?
Also, start thinking about the types of 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.
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?
- Brainstorm Business Ideas.
- Brainstorm Niches you love or are a customer in.
- Look at both lists, do any of them crossover?
- Take your Business Idea and Niche and Brainstorm who your ideal client would be.
- Brainstorm services + products you can offer
- Do some market research in Facebook groups + Quora; what are people asking for help within your chosen niche?
- 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?
Online Business 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 you’re going to provide.
- If you’re going with your name great go-to action step 4
- If you want something unique first brainstorm some name ideas
- Now take those ideas to these business name generators;
- Pick 3 names you like and head over to Namecheckr to see if they are available on social media and domain name availability.
- If none of them, are available, start again.
- Pick one out of the 3 to be your business name
Online Business 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.
Now when I talk about branding I’m not just talking Logo’s and fonts.
I’m talking about the language you use. The images you use and how you want to be seen in the world.
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 are 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 have your colours and your fonts, make sure you use them consistently on your website and across your social media platforms.
Online Business 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.
- Plan Out Website
- Features you want + the look and feel of the below pages;
- About Page
- Contact page
- Services/ Products/ Work With Me Page
- Legal Pages – Privacy, Cookies + Terms & Conditions
- Buy your domain name
- Buy your hosting [ I recommend Siteground]
- Upload WordPress [easily done through Siteground]
- Upload the essential Plugins including a coming soon plugin
- Setup the Coming Soon plugin + page
- Select your theme [I suggest the following stores];
- Upload theme to WordPress
- 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.
Online Business 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 focus on.
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.
- Select your Primary Social platform
- Select your secondary social platform
- Set both platforms up
- Buy a book, take a course + subscribe to a blog focused on your primary social platform
- Pick a social media scheduler [Recommend: Buffer or Tailwinds]
- Create + Curate Content and start to share on your chosen platforms
Online Business 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;
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;
- Core offer; this is your main service. Your core offer will help you develop a tripwire and your freebie.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
eBooks and digital downloads
Coaching, Consulting + Freelancing
- Acuity Scheduling [Booking + managing coaching sessions]
- Satori App [Booking + managing coaching sessions]
- Invoicely [Sending proposals + invoicing]
- AndCo [Sending proposals + invoicing]
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;
- Choose the products/services you’ll offer
- Map out your sales funnel
- Choose the best tools for your product and sales funnel
- Choose and Setup your accounting system
- Create your minimal viable product or service
- Build out your sales funnel
Online Business 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.
- Start building a landing page for your freebie.
- Create a landing page for your tripwire.
- Also, create your Thank You page.
- Write your email welcome series.
- Design your social media promo images for your freebie.
- Write a blog post that relates to your core offer then add your freebie as a content upgrade.
- Start promoting your freebie and blog post on your social media platforms.
Coach’s tip: To really supercharge your marketing, find a blog you can write a guest post for and pitch an idea.
Online Business 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.
So yep, this is a big post, because there are a lot of pieces to fit together to start your online business.
- 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.