Do you want to start a business? Do it online: why launching a website is the easy way to get started as an entrepreneur
Setting up an online business has become increasingly popular in recent years and offers aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to reach a wider audience.
It’s easier than ever for people looking to set up a side business or explore a new idea to start their own business.
Websites are cheap and can be managed from the comfort of your own home, and online shopping is booming.
Setting up an online business is a great way to reach more customers and can provide flexibility in terms of hours and location
But there are still challenges when setting up online. Not least because more and more people are launching start-ups and side businesses, which means there’s more competition than ever.
We take a look at the pros and cons of starting your own online business and how to get it started.
Why consider setting up online?
If you are considering starting your own business, the first thing you should consider is whether you want to be online or set up a physical store.
Given the current environment, setting up social media or a digital marketplace will have a much lower start-up cost and you can test the demand before launching your own website.
A survey of small business accountants by Xero found that 56 percent believed online businesses had higher net profit margins, but two-thirds said they are likely to fail.
Sure, the pressure to launch online seems to be less than brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs. Xero’s survey found that 13 percent of those surveyed believed online business owners experienced more stress, while 44 percent believed physical owners experienced more stress.
The main advantage of launching online is the potential to easily reach customers at home and abroad. You are not dependent on visitor numbers as with a physical store, but the internet and social media can be your shop window and High Street.
An online business can also offer flexibility in terms of working hours and location, meaning it’s ideal if you want to make some money in addition to your full-time job.
However, because of this, there is fierce competition as more and more people launch and it makes the online marketplace very competitive, with companies vying for attention.
Setting up and maintaining an online business can also be time consuming, and you will also need to understand some of the risks associated with data breaches.
Tips to start online
As you begin, there are a few key steps to consider.
The first step to consider is identifying a viable business idea. If you’re stuck for ideas, a recent GoDaddy study revealed the top online side issues.
More than a quarter of those who set up a business to supplement their income have started selling their own goods, be it arts and crafts or health and beauty products.
A similar number have started selling third-party goods, something known as dropshipping, where you sell goods but don’t keep them in stock. Instead, when an order is received, you send the orders to another company to ship the goods directly to the buyer.
Another popular venture is offering your professional expertise in branding and marketing, or sales, accounting and business administration.
Once you’ve made up your mind about your idea, you can do some market research before committing time and money to the idea. This should include finding out what your competitors are doing, how well they are doing and who their customers are. From there you can determine what type of customers to target.
From there, you can develop a business plan that outlines your goals, target market, marketing strategies, and financial projections.
Launching the website itself doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of providers like GoDaddy that offer web building and hosting services as well as email communication and order fulfillment tools.
> Read our guide to setting up a website for your business