3 Tips For Starting an Online Business in 2021
Over the past year, we’ve seen millions of people transition from working in an office to working from home. Whether that was a good or bad experience for you, it proved that work can be done and money can be made from anywhere. All you need is a computer and WiFi connection.
Even before 2020, online businesses were popular around the world. For many people, it sounds like a dream job. You can work from your computer, tablet, or phone and have access to customers anywhere in the world. An online business requires fewer physical resources, and your shop can be open 24/7.
The ease of setting up an online business can cause entrepreneurs to start a new venture without putting much thought into it. That’s likely one of the reasons why 90% of online businesses fail within their first 120 days.
In this post, we’ll give you three practical tips to start your own online business and hopefully (we can’t guarantee it) find success.
Start with a plan
Many brick and mortar businesses require a significant starting budget and a much greater commitment than an online business. Traditional shops that have a physical location require a detailed business plan.
You can start an online business or open up a new online shop in just a few minutes. But, just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
It’s important to recognize that an online business is still a business: Online businesses offer many advantages, such as keeping startup costs low, but they still require significant planning, skill acquisition, hard work, and maintenance. If you ignore the planning stages, it’s unlikely to stand any chance of succeeding.
There are quite a few things that will require your planning. Understand that your goal shouldn’t be to launch your new business as soon as humanly possible. Instead, give yourself a few weeks to develop a business plan. Not only will your plan increase the chances of success, but you will also find out if your new idea is something you’re passionate about and something worth pursuing further.
You can easily spend a few hundred dollars finding the perfect domain, building a website, and creating content, only to find your idea isn’t something you truly enjoy.
Focus on customer service.
Just like customer service matters at the grocery store and restaurant, it matters online.
Just like it’s easy to avoid proper planning, it’s easy to provide mediocre customer service online.
Amazon is the biggest online store in the world, but you know if you’ve ever tried to reach a customer service rep, customer service is not their priority. If you want to compete with the bigger players, providing above and beyond customer service that goes above and beyond will certainly help you.
With so many of our business transactions happening over the Internet, it’s easy to forget that customers are people who are way more likely to return to your website if they have a good experience.
Your website should not feel like an empty spaceship—it looks cool, but also feels lonely.
When you walk into a store, you expect someone to be there to greet you and answer any questions. It’s the same online. Even though you can’t reach through the screen to shake your customer’s hand, you can take steps to connect and communicate with them. This can be done through a live chat feature or an automated chatbot that can answer basic questions. You can send surveys to find out more about your customers wants and needs and provide a business email and phone number for people to reach out.
It’s also important to monitor your social media and reply to messages and comments. And check out customer reviews on Yelp, Google, and elsewhere to see who isn’t happy with their experience and make an effort to fix it.
Validate your new business idea
You’ve probably seen at least a few of your friends start a new business venture, and then a month later...crickets.
When you’re starting your new online business, you need to validate your idea. This is similar to planning your business, but validation requires other people’s honest opinions. You can create a business plan for something you love and are passionate about, but other people need to love the idea too, or else you have no potential customers.
Most people who are just getting started make the mistake of looking for a product first and the market second.
To boost your chances of success, start with a market.
The trick is to find a group of people who have a problem but not finding the right solution. Thankfully you don’t need to guess because the internet makes this kind of market research easy. People are always sharing their problems, and more often than not, they are willing to pay for a solution.
You can search through Reddit and Quora forums or head over to Amazon and read reviews of similar products or services. There are plenty of resources that will tell you what problems people have and the pros and cons of current solutions.
If you have a new idea, you should ask a few questions:
- What problem does my idea solve?
- Who is experiencing this problem?
- What is the current solution?
- What are the pros and cons of the current solution?
- How will I differentiate my solution?
Of course, there are plenty of other questions to ask when it comes to finding a viable business idea. Your next step towards validation is to talk to other people about your idea. Ask as many questions as you can. And, if possible, run pre-launch sales. There’s a huge difference between asking someone if your idea is good or interesting versus people paying you their hard-earned money.
Launching a new business is equally exciting and overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—mistakes are unavoidable. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other while learning and applying every lesson the journey teaches you.
Remember- we can’t guarantee that your business will succeed. But, if you apply these tips and keep pressing forward, your chances of being in the 10% of online businesses that push past the first 120 days will increase significantly.