5 Steps to Start an Online Business

Plenty of people are clamoring to find their next stream of passive income or a new side hustle. That’s when they turn to the internet. Setting up an online business is an easy way to supplement your full-time job without having to show up and clock in somewhere else. You can run it on your time, from wherever you like to work and enjoy the spoils of being your own boss.

The desire is rarely the problem, though. For most people, the biggest hurdle to setting up an online business is simply getting started. You might not know what step one is or the legal requirements of running your own shop. In this blog, we’ll cover that and more!

Step 1: Do Your Research

The very first step is to do some market research and determine if your business idea is viable and potentially profitable. Look for other businesses that do the same thing as yours will, how long they’ve been around, if they’re successful or struggling and if they’ve cornered a niche segment of the market.

These insights will help you to decide if you can find a niche within the industry that isn’t being served or is underserved, which gives you a strategic edge and ensures you’ll be able to find customers.

Step 2: Create Your Business Plan

Next is to create your business plan. Even if you aren’t seeking out a business loan or want to run something small on the side, it’s wise to craft a business plan to help you stay focused and on track as you grow your company.

There are a few things every business plan includes:

  • How much money you require to get started
  • A list of products or services you intend to sell
  • A definition of your target audience or market
  • A list of technology, such as website builders or shipping API, that you’ll need to operate your business
  • A timeline that shows when you intend to start making a profit

Step 3: Establish Your Business

Now it’s time for the tedious part — setting up your business. This big step includes lots of smaller steps, such as naming your business, deciding on a structure and completing legal tasks. The first two you can do on your own, so we’ll focus on the legal side of things, which trips up many new business owners.

  1. Register your business with appropriate authorities, usually your state and local governments.
  2. Obtain any permits or licenses that your government requires.
  3. Adhere to federal, state and local tax laws.

Many states’ Secretary of State or Chamber of Commerce website has helpful information that can help you navigate these steps.

Step 4: Build Your Website

With all of the technical things taken care of, it’s time to build your website! For many business owners, this an exciting step forward in making their dream come true. 

The first step is to choose your website builder. There are many out there that double as a CMS, integrate with eCommerce tools and are designed to be super user-friendly. Additionally, if you have the budget, you can hire a web designer to help you create a simple site that you can always build on later.

Step 5: Start Selling

Once your website is finished you can officially launch your business! Publish your website online and start your marketing and advertising efforts to draw customers to your business. You can use content marketing, social media advertising or even word of mouth among your friends. As you pique people’s interest, you’ll start driving demand and see your sales start rolling in.

Starting your own business has never been easier with the help of online tools. Many people opt to be online business owners because it means they can work wherever and whenever they want. Follow these five steps and you can be a successful online business owner, whether it’s your full-time job or just a lucrative side hustle!