How to start a business online, is the question on everyone’s lips and why shouldn’t it be. The world of online business has exploded with the introduction of SSL (secure socket layer) which has allowed us to take credit card payments online almost completely safely. The online market is so large and diverse you can make a success out of almost any niche. Actually in fact it is a lot easier to create success in a focused niche. More focused less competition and also the chance of your potential clients being able to get the product from any other source than yours is less likely.
Some people are under the misconception that it is quite difficult to start an online business. As you may require coding knowledge or expensive development resources. The truth of the matter is there are many ways to skin the cat. Your options are affiliate marketing where you resell other people’s products or services. This can come in many varieties from monthly income recurring income to once off commission for introducing a buyer to a seller. With affiliate marketing the barrier to entry can be a lot less traumatic.
How to start a business online with affiliate marketing
Really the easiest way to get started in online business is through affiliate marketing. Skills required are often not very far reaching. The reason being is that you do not necessarily require a website in order to get involved in affiliate marketing. You could be selling off your social media profiles, youtube channel or even from word of mouth if you wanted to. The other great benefit of affiliate marketing is that you do not need to get involved in the logistics. When I say logistics I mean things like, ordering, delivery, administration, client relations, support and other aspects of a business. Affiliate marketing allows you to become part of any business without any of these headaches and without prior industry knowledge.
Steps to start an affiliate marketing online business
- Research – Find a product you feel the market needs. Often it is much easier to just look at your own needs. If you have a need for it then why would someone else not need it right?
- Competition analysis – Do some research on other people or businesses which are selling this product in your niche.
- Become an expert – In order to sell the product you will need to become an expert on the product. Luckily there is a lot of information online, on almost virtually anything.
- Create a following – In order to sell you will need to create a following of users which may have an interest in your product. You can do this by using channels like youtube, twitter, facebook, pinterest and blogging.
Now the real question is how do you create a following. In essence this all comes down to trust in the end. Your users want to hear it from the perspective of another customer. You can be this brand ambassador by offering honest reviews about the products you are selling. In the end honesty will bring you the most buyers as the trust will be established early on.
Which affiliates should i join for my online business
In the end you are the one which needs to decide which affiliate partners you are comfortable with. After reading their agreements and getting to know their products you will get a feel for what you want to deal with and what not. A really good place to start in the beginning however is to start with a big name like Amazon. However I would advise that you build up a following first before signing up to any affiliate programs. They often require traffic or some sales in a certain window otherwise your account gets discontinued. Your main goal in the beginning is to build trust, get traffic and establish a following. Once this is there you can start monetizing.
How long does it take to start making money from affiliates
This really depends on your niche, amount of traffic you get and what sort of market cap there is in your niche. Obviously if you are operating in a higher volume niche it might happen sooner or even later due to competition. However as a general rule of thumb anywhere from six month to three years if you stay committed. This may sound very daunting as it might seem like a huge commitment but in the end it is passive income which is far more important to your lifestyle than conventional forms of income.
How to start a business online by creating your own store
The next option in the chain is to start your own online store. This is more advanced and can require some additional skills. Mainly you will need to acquire business knowledge. On things such as ordering, delivery, logistics, marketing, support, customer relations, human resources and accounting. Generally having your own store can definitely be more rewarding than that of affiliate marketing as you are not taking a margin of a margin you are taking a full margin. The biggest thing being that you will need to involve programming resources in order to get your shop online. However there are a few alternatives.
Online store platforms
- Shopify – Shopify makes it a lot easier for you to get up and running fast. This platform is built in order to help newbies setup online stores quickly and easily.
- Woocommerce – Using your already active wordpress blog you can use woocommerce to get your online store going.
- Magento – This platform is powerful but requires development resources to manage it efficiently.
Online store business models
There is mainly two different types of models you can use. In one case you can make use of what we call the “dropship” model. The dropship model essentially allows you to get a supplier which will deliver the product on your behalf. This vastly reduces the following issues:
Dropship online business model
- You don’t need start up capital for stock, simply order stock as your orders come through.
- No need for storage, the stock will be stored at your supplier.
- Packing resources such as stationary, boxes and packaging as well as the labor required to pack the item are no longer needed.
Some of the disadvantages to the dropship model:
- You essentially are an affiliate reselling someone else’s product where you need to mark up the price. This can make you very noncompetitive in the market and it cause you to fail if you have not done your research correctly.
- If the stock for some reason does not get delivered to your customer it can become very difficult to play middle man between your supplier, the courier company and your customer.
Self fulfillment online business model
- You control the entire process and can make sure that stock is delivered on time.
- Quality is better as it can be reviewed by you.
- You are more informed, if your client needs information regarding their delivery or where the item is in the packing process you have enough knowledge to answer any questions.
- You take the full margin and can adjust your pricing to be competitive.
- You require storage space.
- You need start up capital for your stock.
- Employees to manage the packing, admin and other parts of the delivery process.
- Additional third parties come into play, such as couriers, auditors, web developers. Which may require managers to be appointed.
Next steps in how to start a business online
In terms of the progression of an online business and how you want to start your online business is up to you. It is advised however if you are a novice in the online space that you start with something simple and scale-able. Affiliate marketing is a great tool to start with this. Also as a newbie you would not want to go and invest thousands of dollars just to get something going which you might not even be sure it can work. My advice is to dabble in affiliate marketing and gain industry experience. Once ready the online store route is definitely the way to go.
Other considerations when you start a business online
It is a known fact that the majority of traffic comes from search engines. In order to improve your traffic you will need to become familiar with seo or search engine optimization in order to improve the rank on your content. The one most simple rule to getting great serp traffic is to create breathtaking content. Above all else this is the number one thing you should be focusing on in seo in order to have long term and sustainable rankings. Create better content such as videos, info graphics and other informative content which will help your users.
Final words on how to start a business online
The most important factor in your online business is you. If you give it the dedication it deserves it will eventually work out. The online sector is very different to the physical store model. It takes a while for you to get noticed unlike opening a store on a busy street. Online businesses need to put themselves out there to be seen by potential customers. Also it is best to try and follow sound principles in your marketing and create value for your customers. Offer a solution and don’t be “spammy” otherwise your customers will slowly begin to ignore your brand just like they do all other spam on the internet.