Online Business 101: Go for launch!
Have you ever thought about starting an online business? I’ve worked from home since 1992. It was important to me to be home with my kids, but it was just as important for me to escape the confines of a 9-to-5 existence in a cubicle. There was nothing easy about my transition to work-at-home mom, and it did not happen overnight. In fact, I am still perfecting my strategy.In an effort to continue to grow my business, diversify income streams, and in general, keep from getting bored, I’ve been on a quest to expand operations. I began in 2001 when I set out to complete my Associate degree, originally begun in 1980. By 2007, I had earned a Master’s degree. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I finally made some progress in putting my degree to work. Since then, progress has been in fits and starts, but in 2017 I finally got some serious traction, landing a consistent freelance gig to supplement the work I’ve been doing from home since 1992 (legal transcription).
During my research about how to grow my business and make some serious cash, I kept coming across one thing: Have a product to sell.
The problem is, I don’t really have a product. My product is words. I considered doing webinars, podcasts, e-courses, and other things, but I did not have a tangible product that ordinary, everyday people would want.
As has been my experience throughout my life, the idea came in its own good time, appearing in a flash of brilliance one afternoon. I’m planning to launch a new online business early next year with a product I will talk more about in the coming weeks, but this post is about how I plan to market it.
How to successfully launch an online businessThe first step is to get organized. Think about — and then write down — everything you will need to get your business off the ground. What supplies will you need? What types of products will you produce? Will production take place in your home or elsewhere? Find out if there are any ordinances or regulations that apply to your product. Make a list of supplies you will need and decide where you will get them and where you will store them.
Next, decide on your product line. What will you make? How much inventory will you keep? How will you package your product?
Survey the competition. Who else is making products similar to yours? How will you stand out from your competitors? What kind of demand is there for your product?
Get your website set up. Buy your domain name and set up an e-commerce site. For an online business, you’ll need an e-commerce plugin, so do some research on which one will work best for your product as well as your skill level in terms of running your website. It’s a good idea to sketch out your website design and play around with it on paper before you start dragging and dropping things into your theme.Develop a marketing strategy. How will you advertise your product? For an online business, you will definitely need a social media strategy will you use? Identify your target audience and do some research on which platforms they use. Decide on a budget for digital advertising. If you don’t have a marketing budget, look into using some of the free digital marketing tools that are available. If you already have an established blog, that’s a great place to advertise for free.
Do a detailed analysis of where you expect to find your customers, what you project your average sales to be on a monthly or quarterly basis, and determine your price point. To first establish your online business in the market, a small profit may be all you want to aim for. However, eventually you will need to set your prices at a level that allows you a bit more margin. (Hint: I’m starting out by giving my products away for free, asking for feedback, and understanding what my customers like.)
If you are partnering with someone else, have a written plan that outlines each person’s responsibilities. Develop a budget that includes not only all costs associated with your business but also a plan for dividing the profits.Finally, have an exit strategy. Obviously, you’re not going into a new business thinking you will fail, but it’s a good idea to know how you will handle things if your business doesn’t work out. Also, develop a timeline. When you work for yourself, it’s easy to have open-ended plans with goals that tend to slide around, depending on what else is going on in your life. Have a timeline and be strict about sticking to it. Otherwise, your business may be in the startup phase indefinitely.
Launching a new business can be exciting. It’s fun to talk about and even more fun when you finally dip your toe in the water and can hold in your hands the tangible result of your imagination. But to be successful, you need a strategy, and you need to take yourself seriously as a businessperson.
Let me hear from you! Have you started an online business? Share your experiences!