How to start an online business
eCommerce is experiencing a significant surge in popularity, and data suggests it’s here to stay.
According to a recent Australia Post eCommerce Industry report, 82% of Australian households shopped online in 2020 – 1.3 million of which did not do so in 2019. While online shopping activity eased as restrictions did, volumes never returned to the pre-pandemic level.
Clearly, now is the time to leverage all eCommerce has to offer.
Fortunately, starting an online business is easier than ever! Depending on the type of online business you want to start, upfront costs can be relatively inexpensive. With a myriad of web hosting services available, creating a basic website doesn’t have to be a complex or costly exercise.
Whether the pandemic has inspired you to start your own business or side-gig, or you’re a business owner looking to expand online to grow and reach new customers, starting an online business might be simpler than you think.
How to start an online business
There’s a lot that goes into starting an online business – even a simple one. These easy-to-follow steps will get you started.
1 – Do your research
Before you begin taking steps to build your new online business, it’s important to establish there’s a market for the product or service you intend to sell. Performing market research and competitor analysis is a good exercise to gauge how successful your product/service is likely to be in the market.
Some good questions to ask yourself include:
- Will people want to buy what I’m selling?
- Does my product/service meet a particular need or address a gap in the market?
- What demographics am I targeting with this product/service?
- What’s the competition doing – are there other businesses selling similar products?
The federal government has some great resources to help you think through whether or not starting a business is the right step for you. It’s worth working through these steps to ensure you’re prepared to begin your journey as a business owner.
2 – Create a business plan
Once you’ve done your research and established there is a market for your product/service, you can begin preparing a business plan. A business plan is a document that can help you clarify both the goals of your business and the means through which you intend to reach those goals.
A business plan can be as simple or as detailed as you want, depending on the purpose of your plan. For example, if you intend on sharing your business plan with potential investors or a bank, it’s best to be thorough. However, if the plan is for internal use only, you can keep it simple. Either way, business plans will generally include the following elements:
- Summary of the business and products/services
- Market analysis
- Marketing plan
- Goals and actions
- Risk assessment
- Budget and finance summary
For more information about how to prepare a business plan, or how to access professional support, click here.
3 – Apply for an ABN
An ABN – which stands for Australian Business Number – is an 11-digit number that identifies your business. You’ll need an ABN to operate legally in Australia.
Applying for an ABN is a relatively simple process. However, there are a few things you’ll need to have prior to applying, including an identified business structure, proof of identity, and details of your business activities and associates.
For more information about applying for an ABN, click here.
4 – Register your business name
Once you’ve applied for an ABN, you can register your business name with the Business Registration Service.
There are lots of things to consider when selecting a business name, however, most importantly, your business name needs to be available – you cannot select a business name that already exists.
You may also like to think about how easy it might be for customers to find you online. A business name that’s hard to spell or that uses words or phrases that are too commonly used may mean your potential customers won’t be able to find your business in search engines.
5 – Register your domain name
Before you begin building a website, you’ll need to register your domain name. You can also use your domain name for your business email address. To register your domain name, you’ll need to ensure the domain name you want is available – another business may already be using that particular domain name, so you may have to adjust accordingly.
Once you’ve established that your domain name is available, you’ll need to pay a fee with an accredited registrar. Generally, domain name fees operate as annual subscriptions, so you’ll likely need to renew the subscription each year.
6 – Select a web hosting company
A web hosting company stores website files – in simple terms, it’s where your website lives. You can often purchase both your domain name subscription and web hosting services from the same company. Most web hosting companies charge a monthly fee.
7 – Build your website
Depending on the nature and needs of your business, building a website can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. You could hire a web developer to build a quality, custom-made website or you could build it yourself. Alternatively, some web hosting companies offer website packages where you can access pre-made website templates. All you have to do is select the template and fill in the content.
Building an attractive and easy-to-navigate website can help your online business stand out and assist your customers in accessing your products and services.
8 – Test your website
Website issues can lead to decreased sales and poor reputation. So, once you’ve finished building your website, it’s a good idea to test it out to ensure everything is functioning correctly. If your operations depend on your website, it’s important your website does what it’s supposed to without any issues or glitches.
9 – Launch your business
There are lots of other things you could do to market your online business in the lead up to the launch – such as marketing or building a social media presence. However, if your website is ready to go, you’ve got the bare bones of what you need to run your new online business!
Powering your online business to success
The internet is a core asset to modern businesses – not only does it streamline everyday business activities, but it allows businesses to reach global audiences.
Unreliable internet can very quickly grind business operations to a halt. So, if your business operates solely online – or you derive a significant amount of profit from an online presence – it’s important you select an internet provider you can depend on. It’s also recommended you’re clear about what speeds, bandwidths and additional services your business may need before signing up to an internet plan.
Here at Aussie Broadband, not only have we got a reputation for delivering quality internet services, but our Australian-based team have won awards for customer service, so you can rest assured your business internet will be taken care of.