Starting an online business is no easy task. There are many things to consider, including finding the right niche, choosing the right marketing strategy, and making sure you have enough time to devote to your business without neglecting your other responsibilities and commitments. The following 10 questions can help guide you as you begin or continue your entrepreneurial journey and help you consider all of the important aspects of launching an online business that will stand the test of time.
1) Why do you want to start an online business?
To start a business, you’ll need motivation and a strong reason for doing so. Some people start businesses simply because they want to make more money; others do it because they have another career that is becoming unsatisfying or unchallenging. Maybe you’re at a place in your life where your kids are now in school full-time and you need some new direction. Whatever it is, ask yourself: why am I starting a business? What will I lose if I don’t do it? If you can’t answer these questions with confidence, then maybe starting a business isn’t right for you right now.
2) What will you sell?
What is your business going to sell? While it’s likely you have a broad product or service offering, now is not time for vagueness. Instead, ask yourself: What will you sell specifically? Why will people want what you’re selling? What makes your offerings better than anyone else’s in your industry? And how are you going to make sure that what you sell actually sells and makes money for you? Pinpointing these specifics will help ensure a successful launch of your online business.
3) Who are your target customers?
If you’re planning on starting a business that revolves around digital marketing or online marketing, it’s important to know who your target customers are. This will help you come up with strategies for getting your business in front of them. Are they men or women? Do they live in certain areas? How old are they? Where do they shop online? When would be best to contact them by email, phone, or social media? These are just some of the questions you need answers to before you start a new business. If you want more information about how to start a business, check out our guide on starting a small business.
4) Are you creating something or selling someone else’s product?
Creating your own product is more challenging, but if you’re passionate about a particular subject or area of expertise, it could pay off in spades. Selling other people’s products or services takes less time and money but has a lower success rate because other entrepreneurs are likely better at selling than you are. Determine which type of entrepreneur you want to be (or do both!)—then research your options before choosing an online business model that’s right for you.
5) Do you have any skills that can be sold online?
Yes, I do! You see, I specialise in digital marketing. Now, if you’re not sure what that is, I can explain it to you. Digital marketing is a way of promoting brands and products online through social media, email campaigns and even your own websites. This can be used for business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions.
6) Do you have enough money to support yourself in the first few months?
Because many businesses take some time to start turning a profit, you’ll need enough money in savings or with investors so that you don’t have to live off your credit cards. That said, there are low-cost options like Groupon and LivingSocial that allow you to dip your toes into entrepreneurship on a small scale before diving in. And if you want more wiggle room, consider freelancing full-time for a few months as opposed to going all-in on a start-up.
7) How much time do you have available?
Starting a business online can be done at your own pace. You don’t have to quit your day job, pack up and move, or even leave your home. However, it will require some dedication and a few hours of your time each week. Are you able to give that time? Will you be able to commit and stick with it? If not, you might want to rethink your idea or start out slowly by working part-time while keeping up with another job.
8) Do you have a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry?
Successful businesses have something in common—they all have a competitive advantage over their peers. If you want your business to stand out, you need to ask yourself: Does my company have a competitive advantage over other companies in my industry? If not, how can I improve? What unique value can I offer customers that makes me different from my competitors? And what steps should I take now so that when my business does launch it has a chance at succeeding?
9) Is there a demand for your product/service in today’s market?
An online business can’t succeed without a market for its product. It may sound simple, but before you start building your business, it’s essential that you answer whether there’s actually demand for what you want to sell in today’s marketplace. If there is not, then no matter how good your product is or how much of a difference it makes in people’s lives—no one will be able to buy it.
10) Are you prepared for the hard work involved in starting up a new venture?
There’s no getting around it: No matter how many fancy tools and techniques you employ, starting a business is hard work. If you’re not prepared for that fact, you’ll likely fail—and fail quickly. Don’t look for shortcuts or expect someone else to do all of your work for you; if you want something done well, do it yourself!
In today’s digital marketing landscape, it’s easier than ever to start your own business online. The question is: Are you sure? There are no shortcuts or cheap hacks when it comes to starting a business in any field, but there are steps you can take—and questions you can ask yourself—to ensure that your online presence is as successful as possible from day one. At least ask yourself these 10 questions before jumping in. And if you have more, feel free to add them in the comments below!