More people are online than ever before and asking questions that you might have the answers to or looking for product that you might offer. Therefore there’s never been a better time to start an online business than right now.
There are many reasons why people are starting an online business such as:
- spend more time with family,
- have a flexible work schedule,
- health issues,
- desire to change people lives,
- economic problems,
- does not fit in employment as want to have freedom to choose,
- be own boss, control how much to make money.
Perhaps you are one of them. If you want to get on your feet, online business is the quickest way to do it.
Planning is a core of success. A business plan helps you to clarify your business idea, to set out your goals, to prepare strategies, to measure your progress. I have prepered this article to help you build a dream business from scratch. I will cover 7 pillars, which are foundation of any business:
- Business idea.
- Service/product analysis.
- Market research.
- Financial planning.
- Business set up & registration.
- Marketing planning.
- Sales planning.
Step #1. Business Idea
“Do what you love and love what you do”. I believe you agree with me, that the most successful business idea is about individual behind the business as the idea itself. Business like a journey, you must know your destination to “keep your eye on the prize”. The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick best advice to success is “You have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality”. You are the source of creation. I believe you have dreams, desires, and objectives; you just need to find yourself.
You can start any type of online business, either providing services or selling products.
a) Service. You can become a service provider.
- If you gained qualification or education, then you can offer your services, become a consultant, teach online, write a book and etc.
- If you achieved skills, then you can offer service such as admin, copy writing, translation, any type of creative work, marketing and etc.
b) Product. You can sell various products online.
- If you have manual skills, you can create or build your product and sell it online, for example, DIY, furniture, home accessories, jewellery, clothing, health & beauty and etc.
- If you do not create a product you can either start selling made products and become a certified reseller/distributor or representative either you can join affiliate marketing programs and become an introducer.
Step #2. Service/Product Analysis
Service/product analysis involves analysing your service/product potential, cost, how your product be delivered or produced/how your service will be carried out and other aspects.
- Research. Be honest with yourself, that your business is not unique, however you can be different. So, go to internet and do research, if there is a need for your services/products, are there any trends or brands in your industry. When you aware of businesses, you have a bigger picture what else you can offer to attract customers.
- Costs. You need to consider your suppliers as it could affect your sales. You need to know requirements and specifications your suppliers or providers, purchase costs, how will be delivered or served and other aspects relating to your service/product.
- Operations. You need to plan how will your product be produced or how will your service be carried out, how service/product will be delivered to the customer, how the payments will be accepted, which third parties are involved in the operational side and other aspects relating to your service/product.
Step #3. Market Reasearch
Market research is the process of gathering information about your target market and customers. When identifying and analysing the needs of market, the market size and competition, you will find a niche which leads to profitable business.
- Customers. Describe your target customer, i.e. evaluate the customer's preferences, needs, problems, etc., and write down what solution you can offer.
- Competitors. There will always be other businesses fighting for the same customer. Competitor analysis involve assessing of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. You need to make sure you understand your competitors.
Step #4. Financial Planning
Starting an online business usually does not require huge investments. Alan Lakein, well-known author on personal time management, has famously said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail". Therefore performing financial planning is critical to the success of any business. Financial planning is a strategy how your business will afford to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.
- Start up costs. You need to make sure you have enough money to successfully start your business. Start up costs are all the non-recurring costs involved in setting up your business.
- Funds. Having a clear idea of your start up costs, it demonstrates you understand your financial situation. If you noticed you do not have enough money to start your business, then at least you will know you need to explore other funding options.
- Cash flow. You need to prepare a cash flow forecasting, it is an estimate of the money you expect to bring in to and pay out of your business, to make sure you will succeed.
Step #5. Business Registration
When service/product analysis, market research and financial planning is done, it's time to set up and register your business.
- Business structure. Online you can work as a freelancer, sole trader or limited company.
- Legal matter & taxes. You need to check what legal requirements are applicable for your business such as intellectual property, trademarks, or patents, online and distance selling, data protection. Also you need to check what taxes you need to register.
- Bank account & payment system. Your business bank account is the place where you manage all funds, pay your bills and receiving payments from customers. Additionally, opening a business bank account is crucial to separating your personal and business finances.
Step #6. Marketing Planning
Nowadays marketing is a must especially when you are just starting to sell your service/product. Marketing plan contains a list of actions to help you to achieve your marketing goals.
- Brand. As you work online, you need to create a brand. Also you need to create a professional image.
- Platforms. To be as profitable as possible you need to create a right channel, where customer can buy your service/product.
- Methods. To attract as much as you can potential customers, you need to plan what marketing methods you will use to reach your target customers. The most powerful methods for marketing strategy are digital marketing.
Step #7. Sales Planning
Sales plan involves activities related to selling service/product in a given targeted time period. Sales plan is a strategy that sets outs sales targets and tactics for your business and identifies steps you will take to meet your goals.
- Price. The price you charge will have a direct effect your sales, and prepared sales method will help to create revenue more effectively.
- Goals. Write out your sales goals as goals help you focus on sales, directs you on the right path and drives, motivates you to achieve them.
- Process. Sales process covers all steps from a fresh, unqualified prospect to a customer. Prepare detailed sales process flow including documents.
Before starting a business there are many things to consider. We can guide you through each of the key sections of the start up process.