Start An Online Business In Just 4 Steps
Admit it. We are a lazy bunch spoilt by the convenience of wireless and hassle-free technology. We exploit every advantage available, whether it is time, effort, or that magical f word. Seeing how intense city living can get and will stay, clearly, the concept of online shopping is not going away in the foreseeable future.
As it is, online businesses are growing in complexity and customer experience. If you have even some experience in managing websites or being a salesperson, it’s very possible that you have something unique to contribute to this transition. And because you have yet to begin, the future for you is infinitely bright!
Now that you’re ready, we’ll get started, shall we?
Step 1. Settle the idea: What product or service will you provide?
Never think for a second that the most important step is the most difficult step. It’s not. But before you’re settled on the idea, the heart of your business, there’s nothing to fight for, and nothing that can fuel the business.
Luckily for you, there are no rules when it comes to the idea. From unconventional methods of teaching Mandarin to selling home-brewed beer, pretty much anything works as long as you can create the demand. Sadly, if there’s no perceivable demand, there’s no idea.
Step 2. Do the research: What can you learn from the current market?
To judge for possibilities of demand at the moment or in future, you are encouraged to go crazy about market research. Get nosy. Analyze, spy, make desperate calls. There’s no better way to be prepared.
How are competitors pricing their junk? Is the market oversaturated already? Will your idea feed you for life based on consumer trends? Be warned. Do not proceed until everything appears A-OK.
Step 3. Prepare the supply: How will you meet the demand?
You then come to the most worrying part: the supply. Because this will be an ongoing issue that overlaps all parts of the business, it practically makes or breaks everything.
There are generally two ways to deal with this-you either produce everything yourself like a magician, or resell something cheaply that you can reliably find on a supplier like Taobao. Many people tread somewhere in between. History teaches us that it’s more ideal in the long run if you have greater control.
The satisfaction from getting the meat of your business is immense, after you spend an immeasurable amount of time making calls, smiling at people, and working numbers out. Take a break if you need to. You’re almost done.
Step 4. Finalize the structure: How will people look at your business?
The finishing touches of your idea abound in detail. At this stage, everything becomes a game of trade-offs and personal preference. It’s time to build a solid reputation, something that consumers can briefly relate to when comparing your competitors and you.
First, you need a name. You could elect an unforgettable one, or one that flows with just about anything.
Then, you want to ask if your business could live solely on the mobile phones of your consumers, or be a homepage-worthy exquisite website brimming with attractive updates. Affluent entrepreneurs-to-be may like creating the site from scratch. The so-called less fortunate may prefer leveraging on the expertise of Shopify.com at a monthly charge, or just rent the space of popular domains like Qoo10 or Rakuten. Those have all that payment gateway stuff taken care of so you worry less.
Advertising is a necessary evil. When you think about how the public will first hear about your site, would you prefer it to be through social media or something prominent on off a Google search? Also, you may find that devoting some time per day to remind your consumers on social media that your business is a living thing will have respectable returns.
Lastly, the service after a purchase completes the process. Free delivery is nice, while some want to pay for quicker service. You need to figure out where the supply will be stored in the interim, and-if you truly make it big-how to maintain a healthy inventory level.
Keep working at it.
In the end, as much as we want to say ‘4 steps and you’re done!’, there’s no such thing as an ending. A business is as tedious as a day-to-day job. You will have to increase profits, fight competition, replace bad goods, and appease disgruntled customers. And you will have to do that every day. But give yourself a pat on the back. You made it work.