Starting an online business is one of the easiest things in the world. You don’t need any capital, any planning, any business knowledge, not even a product or service. All you need is to start a blog (on whatever topic you want), post some articles and voila, you’re going to be the wealthiest person in your circle of friends!
If you honestly believed the above paragraph then you need to wake-up from the Matrix and get plugged into the real world of starting an online business. My name is Carl Rioux, an online entrepreneur who has started and sold numerous online businesses from simple blogs to complex shopping cart solutions. What I’m about to share with you are five steps that you can implement to have a successful online business.
Step One – Have a Business Plan
Most online start-ups are implemented so quickly (from concept to operational) that the most important step of any business is skipped: the business plan.
Don’t be fooled by thinking since this is an online business there’s no need for a business plan- you couldn’t be further from the truth. A business plan will keep you focused on what needs to be done and the timeline for completion. It will set some clear milestone that you know have been completed with success. It will set some clear financial goals and keep you inline with reality versus projections. It makes you establish a business model that can clearly be followed and respected. And it makes your online business feel like a business and not a pastime! Just make sure you keep updating the business plan as you move further in your business. Keep a close eye on the financials and ensure accuracy as this will help you with fund injection should it be required.
Step Two – Have a Unique Niche Market
If you are planning to open an “electronics” EBay store, check out your competition first. The competition is so vast and aggressive this will need high capital with low profit margins as the existing players have been at it for a while and are very successful. I’m not saying you can’t start this model but warning you about the potential hazards.
My suggestion is to pick one niche (unique) market that has a huge potential for growth with high profit margins. In the past I have used World Wide Brands to evaluate the success potential of a product or market. Here’s what they have to say: “Knowing what to sell before you try to sell it is critical for your online business. Our online database integrates thorough Market Research Analysis into every wholesale product search, so you can quickly and easily decide what the best products are to sell online right now!”
Step Three – Don’t Keep Inventory
If you are selling a physical product (as oppose to virtual like software) one way to save time, money, and headaches is to have NO INVENTORY stored or managed. Instead, use reputable dropshippers (and yes, they exist). Wikipedia explains it this way: “Drop shipping is a supply chain management technique in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As in all retail businesses, the retailers make their profit on the difference between the wholesale and retail price.” Again, having a World Wide Brands membership will save you lots of pain as they do all the work in finding the legit dropshippers and have created a very easy application process for their members.
Step Four – Let the Experts be Your Experts
As a business owner, you will never know everything (although you might think you do), so let the experts be YOUR experts! What I mean is if you want to create a great online store, use the experts to do your web design (I have used IndusNet from India in the past and got great results at an amazing price). Keep in mind that YOU are not an expert at everything but need the experts FOR everything. Let the experts develop your backbone (such as X-Cart Pro for your shopping cart solution). Let the experts manage your SEO, SEM, and marketing for a greater ROI. As well, don’t be shy- an expert could be willing to help for free if you know them from previous ventures. Reach out for free advice from people that have experience and take in what counts!
Let the expert help you start your online business correctly so that success is reached, but don’t let the experts RUN your business! Keep your business plan on track and don’t deviate from it.
Step Five – Legal it and Track It!
One of the most important aspects of any business is to be well prepared in regards to the law and accounting. So my last advice is this: don’t be cheap when it comes to a good law firm and accountant. In the long run, it will benefit your business outcome which ever way you look at it!
More about Carl Rioux:
Experienced leader that motivates and inspires his teams and colleagues to create a positive environment focused on knowledge and skill development thus maximizing performance and profitability. An expert sales and marketing professional with broad knowledge in social media, online marketing, and direct & creative print specialties. A person dedicated to building functional sales and operational strategies that aid in the continual growth of the business.