Online businesses are an attractive prospect. You can start one right from your home, sometimes with very little cash on hand, and since there likely isn’t a physical storefront, you can often work the hours you prefer. Plus, online businesses can be quite lucrative, especially considering people now do most of their shopping online.
A lot of effort still goes into starting an online business, though. To help smooth out the process for you and reduce your stress levels, we’ve put together a list of some major considerations to keep in mind before you open your virtual doors.
1. Your Domain Name
As an online business, your domain name is critically important. Your domain name can be anything you want, but remember that it is often one of the first things people will notice about your business. Ponder these things when it’s time to choose your domain name:
- The domain name should be similar to your business’s name. This likeness helps promote consistency in your branding and keeps the site address memorable for those who don’t use browser bookmarks.
- The domain name should be easy to spell. Assume that a chunk of your customers will be typing out your web address from memory. Make sure the spelling is unambiguous so customers don’t end up at a dead end or—worse—a scam site.
- Keep it simple. Long domains are hard to remember and annoying to type. Avoid numbers and hyphens—just keep it short and sweet.
2. Your Web Host
Once you’ve decided on a domain name for your business, you then need to choose which provider will be the lucky one to host it.
These days, most hosting providers are pretty reliable. You’ll mainly be looking for one that offers affordable prices, provides strong security tools, and maintains a good track record of handling security breaches and hacks. These issues are becoming more common, so you want a provider that can handle the situation and work with customers to solve any problems that arise.
And if you sell products online or hope to in the future, you’ll want a hosting company that offers e-commerce capabilities. This way, you can leave every aspect of your site, including sales, in the hands of skilled professionals.
3. Your Marketing Strategy
Before you take your business live, you need to consider how you will get word out and attract customers. After all, you can have the best product in the world, but if nobody buys it, it isn’t doing you any good.
If your business is only online, you probably want your marketing efforts to be focused online as well. Try some of these important marketing strategies for online businesses:
- SEO, or search engine optimization, makes your site more visible on search engines, like Google.
- Social media marketing and a strong social media presence can help your business build an audience of eager buyers.
- Email marketing can be a powerful way to reach customers thanks to its low cost. Collect email addresses from everyone you can—especially social media followers. Remember to follow email marketing best practices as well.
4. Your Financing
Do you have start-up money? If not, do you have a plan to get some? How are you going to repay any loans you’ve taken out? These are obviously important questions to ask when starting a business. Without start-up money, many businesses will never get off the ground.
To get that critical financing, you need a business plan that outlines how your company intends to make money. You’ll want to include things like income projections, a budget for expenses, a sales forecast, and other financial plans and predictions based on market research. If you’ve never written a business plan before, Entrepreneur has a great guide to get you started.
5. Your Location
Location is important to your business in a number of ways. For example, internet access often varies from state to state, and fast, reliable internet is crucial for running an online operation. To keep your online business successful, look for an internet provider who offers high-speed internet.
As you build your web-based company, you’ll also need to consider other factors, like the overall education level, quality of workforce, and cost of living of your home state so you can target your customers appropriately.
This information should give you plenty to work with as you start your journey as a business owner. Take your time, consider all your options, and work to get your company off the ground running.