Do you want to start an online business, but don’t know where or, how to start?
Well, starting an online business from scratch, especially if you have zero experience, can look really intimidating.
There is a lot to think about, and do, and it might get a bit frustrating especially when you realize how many amazing stores there already are out there. But don’t worry, we gotchu! 😉
The truth is, in this online world, there’s room for everyone! And, if you are thinking about starting your own businesses, eCommerce & dropshipping are great ways to develop your entrepreneurial skills in 2023. The only thing you really need to start is a good plan.
Do you have a plan? Or you don’t even have a “pla”…
As I said, don’t worry, we have got your back!
With this checklist, you’ll be able to make a plan and start an online business in 21 days (or less).
All you need to do is follow this checklist that covers *literally* everything you need to know about starting an online business and see it’s actually not as daunting as it might appear.
With that being said, let’s dive in and get to the good stuff!
The Checklist for Starting an Online Business
Believe it or not, you can start your online business for even 21 days! But, you need to be focused, and organized. So let’s organize a little bit!
The list you need to focus on contains:
- Get a business idea, set your goals, and get a name!
- Identify and Research the market
- Plan your resources
- Build a Website
- Write content that sells
- Build a social media presence
- Do SEO to drive traffic
- Establish credibility
- Build customer loyalty
Before starting, Gina Farran, the creator of disruptive nailcare firm Glaize, advises that you need truly take into account what the practicalities of running your day-to-day business will be, instead of romanticizing it:
“We all see the noise on social media about the glamorous life of a founder and what being a “girl boss” means.
“However, while I love what I do, I can honestly say that there is truly nothing glamorous about my life at the moment
“In fact, on most days, I’m covered in sticky nail gels while wearing a hoodie and thermal socks in an archway in Camberwell.
So make sure you don’t start a business for the wrong reasons – especially if you’re a female founder.”
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Get a Business Idea, Set Your Goals, Get a Business Name
1. Develop a business idea
The first step in starting a business is to come up with a business idea. To begin, you can identify problems that you or your customers are experiencing.
Some dropshippers use an unorganized method to come up with a business idea. Others find that adopting a step-by-step method that leads them to brainstorm, and makes them more productive.
It’s always a good idea to start by finding a customer’s problem and offering a solution for it, in exchange for money.
2. Set your goals
Next, set your goals! And while doing this, you should remember two things:
First, think on a short-term, and long-term basis.
And, second define your goals so they can be SMART ( specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely-mannered)
Setting goals is important, because they serve as a path, and help you guide your focus and sustain your business.
3. Get a Business name
And, of course, once you have the idea, and goals set, How can we find you?
Your brand will be identified by the name you choose, therefore choosing a name is one of the most crucial steps.
So, it is strongly recommended that you dedicate some time, think about your product or service, and come up with a suitable and creative name for your dropshipping business.
Also, you should carefully choose the primary domain name and the secondary domain name, because you will use them for your blog pages, landing pages, and more.
Tip: Your name should be correlated with the product or services you sell. For example, if you sell flowers, you should think about some flowery names.
Identify and Research The Market
Identifying a market is easy, the only thing you need to do is look up your business idea, and find the market of what you want to sell.
Tip: There are a variety of dropshipping niches that are profitable nowadays, so it also might be a good idea to specialize in one niche, instead of going into a general store.
But, identifying is not enough for success. All of the successful dropshippers out there have made detailed market research before starting, which refers to:
- Identifying your customers – who are they, what are their needs and wants
- Segment your market – segment your customers into different groups, according to age, gender, income, or something else that is important depending on the types of products you are selling.
- Analyze your competitors – never stop spying on your competitors! Do not copy them, but follow what they are selling, their prices, marketing strategies, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Plan Your Resources
When you are in the dropshipping business, you have a lot of advantages when resources are the ones to be planned. There’s no need for raw materials, warehousing costs, or any production costs.
But, there are some expenses that require some budgeting, like:
- Costs of building an online store
- Marketing costs
- Costs for store functionality improvement
However, there’s a chance to start your dropshipping business even without a budget, like using free month trials, starter plans, marketing tricks, and more. But if you want a profitable business, you must invest money!
Furthermore, when you think about resources, you must plan the source of your products! And by this we mean – suppliers! Thus, we can say, suppliers, are a resource too.
Suppliers are a very important link in this dropshipping chain. Hence, you must find the most reliable and trustworthy ones for your business.
Finding those might be challenging since there are a lot! But, we provide you with a supplier directory with over 2000 suppliers for different dropshipping niches from which you can choose.
Build a Website
And of course, this step is inevitable! You can’t run an online business without a marketplace, and your marketplace is your website.
Maybe this sounds like the hardest step for you but trust us, it’s not. And it’s not even time-consuming.
Nowadays, there are various options you can choose from when building a website:
First, you can hire a website developer and let him/her do it for you, while you just set requirements.
Secondly, if you have the skills you can use an open-source content management system (CMS) like WordPress, and build it from scratch by yourself.
And last, but not least, use a Website builder and design your website from a variety of features and templates, without a need to have skills for coding.
Write Content That Sells
“The biggest mistake start-ups make is they build a website, and then just assume that the traffic will follow.
“When you first build your website, you have to assume that the site is positioned in the backend of some industrial estate with no passing footfall, because that is the reality until you become known.
“It takes constant effort and work to let people know where your fantastic site is, and years of hard graft to become positioned on the equivalent of Oxford Street.” – Rachel Watkyn, Aire
Content is the KEY to attracting and convincing potential customers to buy from you. It comes in various forms, like, a website (and everything that is on it), images, videos, reels, blog articles, social media content, ads, podcasts, email marketing, etc.
But, what to pay attention to, if you want your content to be engaging?
- Be unique.
- Address a topic that is important to your audience.
- Tell a story.
- Make sure your title accurately represents what you intend to write about
- Determine which format is appropriate at what moment
- Make it absolutely clear what you want your audience to do
- Make your audience think
The content is the essential part of bringing customers to your marketplace and making them buy. Thus, you should pay more attention closely when it comes to creating content marketing strategies.
Build a Social Media Presence
Once you set up your website, it is equally important to drive traffic there. And one of the essential parts of following the checklist for starting an online business – is to build social media presence.
Almost all of your customers are spending most of their time on social media, whether is on Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, LinkedIn, Twitter, or others. Your job is to find where they are present. Next, build a page there, and promote yourself!
You may even build a buzz on these social media networks before the launch of your website, by sharing photographs of your goods. You can also start your business pages before your e-commerce store becomes live.
Do SEO To Drive Traffic
SEO or Search Engine Optimization refers to improving the position or rank of your website in the Search Engine (ex. google).
The higher you appear in search engine results, the better! You will drive more traffic to your website, which means more potential customers, which means more sales and profits.
But, the question here is, how to do it?
When you initially launch a website, you must have a lot of things in place, like title and meta tags optimization, keyword research, and optimal content creation.
There are various on-page and off-page SEO tactics that you can use to drive traffic:
- Optimize your content strategy using a Keyword Gap Analysis
- Create topic clusters
- Earn authority backlinks with Digital PR
- Improve your organic CTR using PPC testing
- Optimize for Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ section.
- Use Internal Links to boost Page 2 rankings
- Generate long-tail keyword-optimized content
- Pay attention to Core Web Vitals, such as Mobile-friendliness, Safe-browsing, HTTPS, Intrusive interstitials, and many more.
We also provide you with a detailed overview of how to improve your rankings with SEO, and we recommend you read it.
“Organic discovery is critical early on before you have an established customer base and don’t want to invest in paid ads.
“In a world where Google’s algorithm reigns supreme, SEO needs to be one of your foundational building blocks.
“Take the time to ensure your site is optimised for key terms your audience are interested in. At our company, we have really prioritised key search terms for startups looking for investment across multiple territories – and have built this into the infrastructure of our site to ensure we rank highly.
“This also needs to be flexible and dynamic so you can adapt to changing trends in search behaviour.” – James Badget, Angel Investment Network
Adding additional value for customers is vital for your business, or as we say establishing credibility.
So, instead of just selling items, and putting images and prices on your website, you should think about adding content that delivers value to customers. For example, writing blog articles that are connected to your business, but also educate your customers.
👉 Check out the 15 Best Shopify Blog Examples To Double Your Organic Traffic.
Build Customer Loyalty
And, last, but not least important – to build customer loyalty. This is one of the most important internet marketing strategies for customer retention and loyalty.
You must give customers a reason to be loyal. Thus, there are a variety of strategies that companies use to improve customer loyalty, such as
- Improve customer experience
- Suggest complementary products to those that are purchased by them
- Make special events and offer discount
- Determine the most effective touchpoints and optimize them.
- Create a reward system
- Consider a head start on prizes.
- Give customers the option to leave a feedback
- Consider several payment options
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Checklist for starting an online business
Starting an online business is challenging, but not impossible. Moreover, if you make a great plan and stick to a checklist, you can even start it quickly. Do 21 days sound unrealistic to you?
That is why we support you with a 9-step Checklist For Starting an Online Business for 21 days. Do not hesitate. Start! We got your back, and provide you with all the needed information in our blog articles section.
Furthermore, we advise you to use an eCommerce glossary for better communication with all the participants in this dropshipping business.