There’s never been a better time to start an online business than right now.
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.
There are many reasons why people are starting an online business such as:
- want to spend more time with family or for yourself,
- have health issues, desire to create or make a difference in people's lives,
- does not fit in employment as want to have freedom to choose,
- want to be own boss, control how much to make money.
- Other reason could be economic problems for example financial crisis due to coronavirus.
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.
Notes: Create free customised a business plan on LawDepot website.
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 RESEARCH
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. Market research is a way of getting overview of customer's wants, needs and beliefs. It can also involve discovering how they act.
- 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.
Notes: Take notes and organise your tasks with Evernote app.
STEP #4. FINANCIAL PLANNING
Alan Lakein, well-known author on personal time management, has famously said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail". 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.
Notes: There are alternative sources to raise finance for starting your business. You can read my article "8 Alternative Ways to Fund your Business" on our website.
Find a right funding for your business on Funding Options website.
- Cash flow. Cash flow forecasting is a comprehensive evaluation of business current and future financial state by using current known variables. This plan helps to project your business revenues to various types of costs and health of your cash flow for your first year of trading.
STEP #5. BUSINESS SET UP & REGISTRATION
When service/product analysis, market research and financial planning is done, it's time to set up and register your business.
- Business structure. Choosing the right business structure is crucial as it can result in your personal assets being at risk for the debts and liabilities of the business. So, protect your business and register business as a corporate.
Notes: What advantages have incorporated business over being sole trader you can read my article "10 Key Advantages to Have a Private Company (LTD)" on our website.
- 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. You can find infomration on GOV.UK website.
Notes: How to set up a business, what you are legally responsible for running the business and what are other registrations for your type of business you can read my article "How to Set Up and Register a Business in the UK" on our website.
Find free legal documents on LawDepot website.
To understand if you need to register for VAT, please read my article "Do I Have to Register for VAT" on our website.
- 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.
In order to accept payments, you might need to use alternative payment system like PayPal and Stripe.
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. First you need to create a brand. A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's product or service as distinct from those of other sellers.
- Domain. When business name is registered, you need to secure a domain name. You can register your domain name with various providers for example Web Hosting UK.
- Logo. It is a symbol or name to promote public identification and recognition for your business. You can create a logo using graphic design platform like Canva or you can hire a talented designer or start a design contest on 99Designs website, or you can find a freelancer services on Fiverr to create one for you.
- Email. Domain-based email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org, help you more professional with customers and suppliers, also promote your website and business. You can create Gmail business account with G Suite app.
- Platforms. To be as profitable as possible you need to create a right channel, where customer can buy your service/product.
The UK has the third largest ecommerce market in the world and the largest in Europe. The UK's biggest online marketplaces are Amazon UK and eBay UK. If you are looking for selling sites similar to Etsy, then UK marketplace Folksy could be a great alternative. There are performance online marketplaces, allows subscribers to access product or service from merchants like Groupon and Wowcher. If you are planning to create events, seminars webinars or courses, then you can use Eventbrite platform.
If you want to have the control over what you want to sell, what information you would like to share or your own unique design, of course I would recommend you to create your own website. You can either use website builder like BigCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify or you can find a freelancer on Fiverr to create one for you.
- 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.
- Sales. Sales describes the activities that leads to selling service/product on a price charged. The price you charge will have a direct effect on the success of your business. The most import tool in sales is to use CRM (Customer Relationship Management). A CRM system like Hubspot and Keap helps you track sales leads, marketing, pipeline and manage sales.
- Goals. Goals helps you to focus on sales, directs you on the right path and drives, motivates you to achieve them. Setting sales goals helping you grow quickly.
- Process. Sales process covers all steps from a fresh, unqualified prospect to a customer. Having a detailed sales plan will make or break your revenues.
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.
Need help, contact us!