With the convenience of online businesses, such as; e-commerce online stores, e-books, web design and web content creation, more and more people want to provide services online. This had led to many people creating their own products and/or services that they believe are the next big thing. But how can you tell if an idea is good or not? We will look at some tips to help you plan out you online business idea and help you get started.
Working From Home
More and more people are choosing to work from home, in fact according to an article in ‘The Atlantic‘, nearly 70% of American self-employed people work from home, whilst one in three workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher have been taking work at home for the last decade.
Online businesses cost less than other businesses since it only requires a domain name and a web hosting service to get started, which would cost less than a hundred dollars. This means that it is easier than ever to turn your online business idea into a reality by setting up your own website. For your web design, you can look for an intern, search for free WordPress templates, use free web design platforms as your options or, if you are good enough, tackle it yourself.
According to ‘Startup Desi’, the estimated costs of running an online business are as follows:
- Domain name - $10 per year
- Hosting- $15 per month
- Paypal commissions- roughly $2 per transaction
- Web design- approximately $200-$800 (depending on the design requirements)
Also, with online business comes a wider reach in terms of target market as it is accessible anywhere in the world; which means, that continents are not a factor as you can be anywhere you want to be and you are still capable of providing product or services anywhere in the world with the help of the internet.
In addition, this can be done at home and can be run 24/7, making it convenient for you and your clients. It is convenient for you because you won’t have to worry about transportation. In fact, you can be at home working in your pyjamas and it would be perfectly fine. It can be convenient for your clients as they can contact you any time. In order to have an online business, you would only need a computer of your own and a reliable internet connection.
However, like any other business, online businesses require some factors that you should consider.
Do Your Research
You may already have your online business idea, but just like a brick and mortar business, you will first need to create a business plan. You need to know your target market, competition, funding, resources and strategic partners.
This is the very core of starting your business, so this is very important. If you don’t have any idea of what you want to do and who you are dealing with, you are more likely to fail. So it’s best to do your own research and be sure that you are well prepared. Always remember…
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
With regards to your target market, make sure that there is a need for whatever service you have in mind, how in demand it is and how you would be able to conceptualize and create unique selling points over your competitors. Researching is the key to all of this. You can use free tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to check if there is someone in your country that is looking for the product or services that you want to provide.
For example: You have an idea and you designed a prototype for a “milk dispenser”, then you want to check if there are people out there looking for it. The first thing you want to do is perform a research if there is a demand for that idea using Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Before you begin your research, you need to think of any possible terms that people use if they were searching for your product (your own “milk dispenser”) and populate any related terms to that like; “milk dispensers” (With “s”! Keywords are treated as separate entities using number of characters and alphanumeric value in it), “commercial milk dispenser”, “drink dispenser” (Don’t be such a baby! Consider things other than milk!), and “water dispenser”. Then identify your target location and use it when you perform the search. Below is the screenshot with instructions on what to do inside the research tool.
The reason why I selected the exact match is that exact matches are the “exact terms” used by the people when the search for the things they needed on the internet. Once you searched for your selected words and phrases in the tool, you can now see if there is really someone out there looking for your awesome dispenser. See screenshot below:
From the results (above), we’ve seen that there’s a demand from the terms that we’ve used in the search we performed. This means, your product already has existing demand and competition (too bad!)
Demand is vertically perpendicular to interest, it’s also important if we can foresee how long our product or services will last or how in demand will it be in the next few months to a year. To see the interest of people over time, we can use Google Trends. Google Trends allows us to see the history of interest of people over time (not competition and not search volume, just interest rate over time) as well as the forecast of interest up to one year. Check out the sample of “milk dispenser” interest over time and forecast below:
Performing this search allows you to have a goal to target, foresee the volume you need to produce/provide, and gives you the peace of mind that your business is not getting anywhere (unless you are lazy).
Where To Work
When you are done with all the planning and research, make sure that you have a designated place to work. Online businesses may not require an actual office but you should still have your own work space, even at home, to separate you from the temptations from the television, soft sofa or comfy bed. Depending in the nature of your planned business, you may want to at least have a place where you can be comfortable enough and free from any distraction while you are working.
Next you would want to figure out is how to market your business. Several small businesses and even in the medium level enterprises make their own efforts with regards to developing their business online, in order to gain a wider reach to their prospect clients. You can do this on your own or outsource any online marketing efforts to a PR Agency or SEO firm.
Last thing you have to do is to be patient. Don’t rush into things and if it doesn’t go your way immediately, don’t go raging and quitting. Building a business requires years to achieve and stabilize. As long as you strive hard and don’t give up, you would surely succeed eventually.
Online businesses may be easier than other traditional businesses to set up, but you will still need to have perseverance, creativity, strong will, and basic finance and business skills in order to be successful in your endeavour.
What other advice would you give to someone starting an online business for the first time? What did you do when you started that helped you in the long run? What didn’t you do that you wish you had have done? Please let us know below in the comment section.
Image by Dennis Wilkinson [Source]