How to Start an Online Business in 2020
Want to start your online business, but not sure how? Well, in today’s article, I'm going to walk you through the eight steps that you need to follow in order to start your own business this year!
But, before we even get into the steps, there's one thing I want you to know:
It's better for you to start your business NOW… even if you're not 100% confident that it's the best idea or that it's going to work out.
It's better to just jump in and start, because the experience you get from starting your own business is going to be invaluable whether the business succeeds or fails. Truth: no matter how things work out, you are going to learn SO much!
(Plus, if you don't start it… you're always going to be asking yourself, what if?
What if you had started that business? What sort of opportunities would it have opened up for you? What would the experience have been like?)
Avoid those regrets! Follow this straight-forward plan and get your biz started this week. I know you can!
1. Decide what business you’re going to start.
The first thing you need to do is just decide what business you're going to start. Now, maybe you've already done this, in which case you can skip ahead to the next step, but if you haven't, then you might be in one of two different situations:
Maybe you're just having trouble deciding between a few ideas that you have and you're not sure which one would really be the best. If that's the case, then check out this video for some advice on how to decide what business to start.
On the other hand, if your problem is that you just don't have a good idea yet, then check out this video for some inspiration.
As you're trying to decide what business to start, the main thing that you need to keep in mind is that it's better to get started even if you don't choose the perfect idea. A few months from now, once you’re a few months into the process of building your business, you'll be able to much better determine whether or not if it’s the right idea.
At that point, you can always decide to pursue a different idea instead, or you might have found the perfect business idea and be well on your way to turning it into a success! But either way, by getting started sooner, you'll start making a lot more progress than if you wait until you someday find the perfect idea.
2. Create a business plan.
Once you've decided what type of business you want to start, the next thing you need to do is create a business plan.
Many people start businesses without any sort of plan whatsoever, but your business is much more likely to succeed if you start with writing out a plan. It doesn't have to take a whole lot of time, but it will have a big impact. If you're not quite sure what your business plan should say or should include, then here are a couple tips:
- There are loads of free templates online that can get you started.
- Nearly every month, I host a free challenge to guide aspiring entrepreneurs (like you!) through the process of creating a profit plan for their new businesses.
*A profit plan is just a specific type of business plan that is focused around how your business makes money and can really guide you in the process of building the business to increase your profits. Sound like something you could use? Find out when the next challenge will happen and sign up for free at www.gillianperkins.com/profit-plan/.
However you go about writing your business plan, just remember that it doesn't need to be War and Peace. Your business plan can be short and sweet. Any plan is better than no plan at all, and you’ll be much more likely to finish your business plan and to follow it if it's not too long.
3. Market research.
Next up, it’s time for some market research. Feel like skipping this step? Don’t! It’s simple and will make the BIGGEST difference!
The basic idea of market research is finding prospective customers and talking to them about the product that you're considering creating or the service that you're considering offering.
Now, I also know that this might seem a little bit overwhelming, difficult, and uncomfortable, but here’s the thing: you need to find people to buy your product whether you find them now or you find them after you create the product and start the business.
By talking to these target customers before you launch, you’ll be able to ensure that your product is really exactly what they want and need. That means you'll be able to start your business with a lot more confidence and it will be much more likely that your business will succeed.
4. Develop your product.
Once you've done your market research and you've gotten some clear feedback from your prospective customers, you can proceed to develop your product. Now, depending on what type of product you're creating, this process will look very different.
- If you’re creating a physical product, you need to design the product and have a prototype created with possibly a series of subsequent prototypes before you finally have the finished product and you have it mass-produced.
- If you're creating a digital product, like an online course, then you need to plan out the course and film the lessons. You'll also need to write materials, create worksheets, and so on.
- If you’re starting a service-based business where you'll provide a service to your customers, then you need to plan how your service is going to work. You’ll need to develop service packages and figure out how you're actually going to provide this service to your customers.
5. Create a website for your business.
Step number five is to create a website for your business. Now, I'm not going to say a whole lot about this because I'm sure you've seen plenty of Squarespace commercials at this point… ? I'm not sponsored by Squarespace, but it really is as easy as they claim. There are other options you can consider as well such as Wix or Weebly.
You also could consider building your website with WordPress (that’s what I personally use), which can create great results, but just be prepared to invest a lot more time into learning how it works.
6. Market your product.
Once your website is up and running, you’re ready to start making sales, so it's time to market your product!
Marketing is an absolutely essential part of the process, because unlike what is commonly said, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door. You have to get out there! You have to tell people about your business and about your product or else they won't know it even exists and if they don't know it exists, they can't buy it!
So… how exactly do you market your business?
Well, if you have plenty of time but not very much money, then you might consider using networking or some type of content marketing. Content marketing involves making videos or writing articles that are helpful to your customers to attract the people who will be interested in your product.
On the other hand, if you have a budget but you're short on time, then instead, you'll want to look into paid advertising and maybe consider hiring a marketing strategist to find the best platform and strategies for your specific business.
7. Make sales and serve your customers.
This is where things really start running! You're not just building a company from the ground up anymore — you have to show up for those customers week after week and deliver to them that product or service that they've purchased.
Depending on what your business sells, this is going to look pretty different. For example, if you are selling a physical product, then you're going to need to continue to manufacture that product. You're going to need to ship the product out to your customers and you might have to do some tech work to fix any problems.
On the other hand, if you're selling a digital product like a course, then your work of serving your customers might all boil down to just answering their questions about the product that you're selling to them.
And finally, if you start a service business, then you're going to have to show up for your customers week after week and provide that service to them.
Right NOW, though, you haven’t started your business yet (or, at least, I’m assuming you’re still in the beginning stages, since you’re reading this article), so you have the opportunity to think about what kind of work you want to do later on:
- do you want to be working with customers day after day after day?
- do you want to be able to sit behind your computer and answer their questions?
- do you want to be shipping products every single week?
That's something you need to think about now because, in the future, that's what running your business is REALLY going to look like.
8. Grow your team and scale your company.
In order to serve more customers, you're going to need more help, so you're going to need to hire some people to serve those customers and to run your business for you. It’s time to step into the role of your business as the CEO.
Maybe you'll hire customer service specialists, maybe you'll hire more people to actually create the product for you, or maybe you'll hire people to run other administrative parts of your business or to market your business for you to get more customers.
Of course, you also may choose not to hire anyone at all. You might want to keep things simple, keep your company small, and remain a solopreneur forever — and that's totally fine. But, it's a decision you'll have to make at some point.
Well, that's pretty much all there is to it! If you follow those eight simple steps, you'll be well on your way to building a successful, profitable business! Now, of course, it goes without saying that even though these steps are pretty simple, they all do require a fair amount of work. You can expect to invest at least several weeks, if not several months, into the process of getting your business up and running and making money.
My biggest piece of advice for you as you're getting this new venture off the ground is to commit — from the very beginning — to be in it for the long haul. If you are impatient and you don't properly anticipate how long this whole process is going to take, then you're probably going to give up before you make your first dollar. You need to understand that this process takes time and work.
You need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally and even physically from the very beginning. If you aren't ready, then all of the different things that you need to do and the different things that hit you along the way are really going to throw you off track and your business might fail before it even gets off the ground.
But I know you can do it! If you really want to start your own business, then just know it's not all that complicated. Anyone can do it if they put their mind to it and they're willing to do the work.
If you're really serious about starting your own business, then I'd love to tell you a little bit about Startup Society!
Startup Society is an online community and learning platform that I developed to help entrepreneurs just like you learn the basics of starting their own business and turning it into a success. You can join Startup Society for a low monthly cost, and get access to our straight-forward framework for building a successful online business of your own.
We have training courses that teach you exactly what you need to do to start your business and how to take each step of the process. We break everything down into clear action items to keep you on track (and make sure that you're never overwhelmed by the process)!
We've also got an AMAZING community of online entrepreneurs who are all working together, supporting each other, and cheering each other on so that they can stay motivated and stay on track.
Click here if you want to learn more about Startup Society and sign up to become a member. I'd love to work with you to turn your online business idea into a success!
I'm so excited for you to be starting your own business because starting my own business was one of the BEST decisions that I've ever made. It completely changed my life in so many ways and all for the better, so I can't wait to see how starting your business changes your life as well!
Here’s to your success!