The internet offers everyone a virtually limitless platform to start a business and earn profits. There are many tools that allow you to easily create a website, and tracking and analytical tools that make it easier to manage and monitor your business.

Whether you’re planning to launch a SaaS (software as a service) website, an e-commerce business, or a website that generates revenue from advertising, there are four key steps you should follow:

1. Identify customer demand

With countless websites already offering nearly everything you can think of, it’s critical that you determine if there’s a demand for what you’d like to offer. There are several free tools that show keyword search volumes that are helpful. For example, if many people are searching for a particular term, and there are few websites that provide the answers or solutions customers are seeking, there could be a significant demand for your new online business.

2. Create a business plan

Your business plan is a road map. It shows where you are now and where you want to go. Importantly, it maps out the journey so you have the greatest likelihood of getting to the finish line.

Use the proper business plan layout that includes all the key sections: your executive summary, company analysis, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitor analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan, and appendix.

Within those sections, answer key questions such as, Will you create your website or outsource the development of it? What are your capital investments and operating expenses? What are your contingency plans? What is your break-even point?

 

A detailed SWOT analysis and the core content of your website should also be featured in your plan. Finally, your plan should highlight your business’s unique selling point (USP) and explain how you will differentiate yourself from the competition.

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3. Set up your website

Setting up your website starts with choosing the best domain name. Your domain name or URL should preferably be synonymous with your business name. If your website doesn’t describe your business type (e.g., joescarwash.com), be sure your plan calls for extra investments in marketing to build your brand name. 

You then need to decide whether you will build your website yourself or outsource it. There are countless skilled website creators who can build general websites as well as specific applications and features. Depending upon the complexity of your site, you might need a specific hosting company to handle your processing needs.

Every component of your website matters. Look and feel, content, user friendliness, and comprehensiveness are just some factors that can make a website successful and build your brand reputation. Importantly, avoid common website design mistakes that are found on many sites. And make sure your site provides users with a great experience on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

 

4. Market your online business

The most effective methods to marketing your online business include search engine optimization (getting your site to rank near the top of the search engine results); search engine marketing (advertising on search engines); social media marketing (posting on social media platforms); and email marketing—all are proven and effective strategies.

 

But just because they are proven strategies, there’s a big difference between doing them and doing them well. Be sure to study best practices before embarking on any of these marketing strategies. And then be sure to judge the results of each of your marketing efforts so you can optimize them to best attract your target customers.

 

Ready to start an online business?

Online businesses are exciting because they can be launched very quickly and inexpensively. But because of this there is a lot of competition.

 

To succeed with a website and online business, find your unique niche, create a well-conceived business plan, build a top-notch website, and spend time effectively marketing it. Follow this formula and you could have a great online business up and running in no time.

RELATED: 4 Proven Ways to Make Money Online

 

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