5 tips to starting a successful online business

Minden bizonnyal a te fantáziádat is piszkálja, hogy elindítsd a saját, online vállalkozásodat (hiszen ezért is kattintottál erre a cikkre). Ez azonban nem olyan egyszerű, hiszen már az elején rengeteg a megoldandó kérdés, probléma. 

In this article, we’ve collected the key aspects that you need to know in order to start an online business that is profitable in the long term. But let’s not multiply characters, let’s get started!

Successful online business tips

#1 Find a problem and solve it

We know, it’s tempting to design a logo from the start and get on with the design and branding, but there are more important things to do first. First you have to dig the foundations of the house, so you can just pour concrete into it, and then build it up nicely, brick by brick.

If you want to sell a physical or virtual product, you need to define the problem you want to solve. 

Here are some simple examples and some less obvious ones. 

The plumbers will remove the blockage and eliminate the dripping tap problem. 

Clothing stores help you express yourself through dressing.

These were obviously the simple cases, now let’s look at the more complex ones. 

The issue:

Many pets are lost, and many are unfortunately never found again. 

The solution: 

But there are GPS trackers that can be integrated into your pet’s collar and you can track their movements with a phone app. 

The issue:

8-15% of the world’s population is left-handed, yet there are very few products on the market for left-handed people. 

The solution: 

Have a webshop that sells only left-handed products.

How to find issues? How do you define the purpose of your online business? A short step-by-step guide

  • Put your passion first. Do you like running? Do you love hiking? Do you love animals? Do you play an instrument? Are you a football fan? If you have a hobby or passion that you enjoy doing, it’s worth building on. 
  • Find a problem within that area (as in the example above). This is perhaps the hardest part, as seemingly every problem in the world has been solved, but it’s far from being so. Be open-minded, talk to friends, professionals or create an online survey about the problems encountered by people in the given segment.
  • Find the gap in the market. For a very long time, there were no vegan, non-animal-tested cosmetic products, until someone finally did it and built a billion-dollar business around it – the US company Lush, for example. But you can go even further: there may not be a vegan face wash that is effective.
Gap in the market for online business

#2 Choose a business model and define your target group

Once you have a clear picture, the next step is to define your business model and target group. There are 9 basic business models.

  1. E-commerce: classic online shops selling physical or virtual goods, and marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, etc.
  1. White-label: it is very common for the product to be manufactured by someone else, yet still run under your own brand name. In such cases we can talk about contract manufacturing. For example, you can have your own brand of a dietary supplement and you can outsource contract production.
  1. Franchise: in this case, you buy into a brand, a business process. Restaurants like Burger King or McDonald’s are run through franchise networks.
  1. Freemium: mostly used for digital products; some of it is free, but you have to pay to use it without problems. Examples include YouTube and Spotify, where you pay a subscription and get ad-free access.
  1. Subscription system: for virtual products, this works mainly for coaching, learning and training sites, where you get training and learning material in exchange for a subscription. It can also be useful for physical products, for example, you can buy face creams, vitamins, coffee packs, etc. on a subscription basis.
  1. B2B: in this case you are not selling to individuals or customers, but to companies.
  1. Freelancing: a popular form of entrepreneurship, mostly for intellectual activities such as development, graphic design, copywriting, marketing and search engine optimization.
  1. Coaching: as a consultant, you “sell” your expertise to your clients.
  1. Affiliate marketing: in this case, you promote and sell other businesses’ products and receive a commission, so you can earn passive income.

Once you have defined your business model, it’s time for one important thing: you need to know who you are selling to. 

To do this, you need to define a target group. Are you targeting older people or young people? For women, men or unisex? Are you selling to urban or rural people? What are they interested in, where can you communicate with them? 

Once you have defined your target group, you also need to know how they communicate. That’s why it’s a good idea to start an online business that you love or are good at, because it’s a competitive advantage.

For example, if you like e-biking and you want to start an e-bike webshop, you know how they communicate, what they are interested in and who the target group is, because that’s where you are. 

Tip: Remember that you will also need a privacy policy, terms and conditions and other legal documents.

Market Analysis

#3 Analyze the competition 

Analysing your competition is very important, because it could be the reason why your idea fails. If there are too many competitors in a given market, you need to narrow down and find the gap in the market mentioned above. 

For example, if there are 15 other bakeries in your area, you don’t want to be just one of many. 

Be the one to make only cupcakes or only creamy ones, but with a quality like no other.

And you can learn from your competitors: find it, 

  • what makes them successful, 
  • what their tactics are, 
  • how much use they make of current trends,
  • what their website looks like, the design, 
  • how they position themselves, etc. 

But how do you map the competition? Here are some tips: 

  • Read their blog regularly (if they have one). If they don’t, you should and you’re ahead of the competition.
  • Buy one of the products they sell. See how easy the buying process is, if there’s a thank you email, how quickly the product arrives, how the packaging is, if you received a gift, a coupon for your next purchase and so on. Everything that’s successful can be transferred to your online business, and what they lack, you can introduce.
  • Leave a product in your basket and see what happens. Do you get an email? If so, which kind?
  • Subscribe to their newsletter and read them.
  • Follow them on social media. See what platforms they’re on, how often they post and how much of an audience they reach.

Pro tip: do a SWOT analysis on them to complement the research above. SWOT is an analysis that looks at the strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement of your competitors.

#4 Idea: invent the name, logo and image of your online business

The name of an online business is not easy to guess, and there is no specific advice on this, just generalities. 

  • Choose a brand name that is appropriate for the country: if you want to sell to English-speaking countries, it should be English or English-sounding. Think Google, Apple or Nike. 
  • Make it easy to spell and pronounce so that the client doesn’t have to guess how it’s spelled. 
  • It should also sound good when spoken out loud. 
  • Make it memorable.
  • Define well the activity, the market you are selling to.
  • And finally, the brand domain name should be free. 

From a design point of view, it is worth looking at what colors the competition is using. You don’t have to copy, but you can get great inspiration. See what the current website and color trends are, look at some cool color combinations and get inspired. That’s probably the most important thing.

When designing the logo, make sure that the colors match the corporate identity. Again, it’s worth looking at competitors or similar websites for inspiration, but it’s even better to get a graphic designer to do the job.

Website development WebsitExpo

#5 Create a website

The most important thing was left to the end: creating the website. For your online business, you need to make sure that the website is clean, transmits the main message, allows people to contact you, and provides payment gateways (e.g. Stripe, PayPal, etc.). 

However, developing a custom website can cost hundreds of thousands of euros, so it’s worth saving up for. 

Tip: On WebsitExpo you can buy custom websites from our webshop without having to pay a fortune. Our advanced package includes all the settings you need for a webshop or a business website.

On the business website, for example:

  • SSL (secure website settings)
  • mobile-friendly website
  • domain and hosting configuration, 
  • blog integration, 
  • and GDPR compatibility. 

For more details and packages on the business website, click on the link.

For a webshop:

  • upload up to 100 products
  • setting up webshop functions (shopping cart, add to cart, overview, etc.)
  • SSL setup (secure website)
  • domain and hosting provider configuration
  • mobile-friendly webshop
  • Social Media connection
  • Automatic e-mail sending when purchasing
  • Cash on delivery + card payment integration
  • Blog section
  • Testimonials section
  • Logo design

For more details and packages of our webshop service, click on the link.

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