How to Start Your Online Business in 8 Easy Steps

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Nikko Marasigan

Nikko Marasigan

Nikko Marasigan is one of the Web Mercenaries for Xight Interactive - a team of highly-competent SEO specialist for hire that specialize in developing creative, scalable and adaptive SEO strategies – from search marketing, link development, social media, brand development to conversion rate optimization. Blogs at NikkoMachine - Philippine SEO and Internet Marketing and shares SEO tips on Twitter.
Nikko Marasigan
Nikko Marasigan
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Entering the online business domain is not easy. You will have to go through trial-and-error phases of constructing a strategy, and at one point, you might have to go back to square one until you achieve that which is effective for you.

Considering the amount of effort you need to devote to this venture, you have to equip yourself with sufficient business knowhow to make your time and financial investments worth it. Read on to learn eight useful tips you should arm yourselves with, before you get that startup business engine running.

1. Come up with a business plan.

The road to business success exists although it is not easy to find. And sometimes, finding it does not automatically mean it’s easy to tread. So if you’re bent on thriving in the online business domain, you have to devise a plan.

The truth is, creating a plan does not need to be a formal event. It can be as casual as you want to be as long as you’re able to tackle all the bases. Some of the essential things you need to identify include: the product you are selling, how you will sell it, who your audience is, how you will fit in the market, and who your competition is.

Planning also entails research, so don’t hesitate to read materials on how to start an ecommerce business.

You have to remember though that while it’s good to stick to your plan, they are not immune to change. Face it: what you think may be good for your business today can change in five years. With this in mind, try to be open to new ideas and modifications as you proceed with what was originally planned.

2. Choose a brand name.

Producing a good brand name is a crucial part of putting up a business, and it’s not easy as it seems. Even coming up with a name for a baby requires a lot of deliberation, and this is the kind of attention your business needs.

It is imperative that you come up with a snappy label, as it is what your audience will remember you for and will identify themselves with. Also, it is what you will use or at least tweak once you’re ready to build your site.

But thinking of a brand name can be quite a challenge as you have to consider a number of factors. Ideally, you should be able to come up with something that it is original and punchy.

If you’re good at playing with words, put that skill to use; just make sure you end up with a witty one. And go for names that are not time-bound, as what may be cool now will not be so in five or ten years.

3. Use the right ecommerce software.

One of the things that make modern entrepreneurs lucky is the ubiquitousness of technology. You can just imagine how easier it would be managing a business right at your fingertips and within the comfort of your own home. Add to that the omnipresence of Internet-abled devices, such as tablets and smartphones, which customers can use to shop online.

This gives you a valid reason to use the appropriate ecommerce software to ensure your customers a hassle-free shopping experience. What makes these tools great for business is that they can be upgraded whenever you need to and they are designed to match your business’ growth.

To get your business started online, check out ecommerce platforms such as Big Commerce, Yahoo! Merchant

Solutions, OpenCart, Shopify, and Volusion.

4. Apply for a business account for processing credit cards.

One popular reason why online businesses thrive is because customers can do it even with pajamas on. They don’t have to go outside, since all the browsing, purchasing, and delivery can be done electronically.

As such, it would be helpful to you and your customers if you apply for an Internet merchant account for your startup business. This particular bank account allows your customers to pay you online using their credit cards or debit cards. Having this feature will not only make your business appear professional; you also won’t have to worry about making a sale beyond “office hours”.

Keep in mind, however, that your bank will have to evaluate your own credit reputation when you apply for this service, so make sure that your records are clean.

5. Create a user-friendly site.

Since you will be selling your goods online, it is critical that you make your website accessible and appealing.

So whether you’re going to make the site yourself or you’re going to hire a professional to do it for you, make sure that you end up with one that is comely, functional, engaging, and easy to navigate.  Also, have all the links working and ensure that the site loads fast.

6. Build trust signals.

Trust is a non-negotiable factor in relationships, and that includes the one that exists between you and your customers. And since you can’t demand trust, you have to gain them by packing your site with good and useful stuff.

To build trust signals, you should publish substantial content and incorporate the power of social media by asking customers for feedback and testimonials. You can also try inbound and/or outbound linking with fellow trustworthy sites of the same industry.

7. Test the site regularly.

To keep your site in tiptop shape, make time for testing it. One particular method you can use is split testing (also known as A/B testing). Doing a split test will help you determine whether your webpages are effective and aid you with finding ways on how you can improve.

To do this, you will have to upload two different versions of your pages, complete with their own headlines.  Your customers will be directed to either of the two at random, and then you can measure the success of each version depending on customers’ reactions.

8. Promote your site online.

The good thing about doing your business online is that you get to advertise in a virtually limitless arena. However, you have to do it right to preserve your enterprise’s integrity.

To do this, establish rapport with professional bloggers within your niche, and request if they can post quality articles on your site. They can write reviews of your products or services. Another idea is to participate in online communities within your niche. Make sure that you post sensible comments or link to quality content from your website.

You can also collaborate with your business partners, such as your suppliers and distributors, and pat each other on the back by giving reviews, ratings, and recommendations.

So whether you are decided to take a tried-and-tested route or you’re in the mood for experimenting, make sure that you employ these tips. The key here is to establish an efficient and effective system that would bring your online business to success.