ABCs and 123s of Building a Business Online

Short of a lucky lottery pick or a wild run of good luck in Las Vegas, there is no such thing as a sure-fire get rich quick business, but there is a way to build an online business that can make your future comfortable and secure. Keeping simple rules in mind and following them no matter what can help you become not only independent, but happy in doing something rewarding to you personally. It’s intimidating, but going out on your own isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, and it could be just the right decision if you find the right niche.

Everything Starts with an Idea

Have you ever wondered why the comics show that little light bulb over a character’s head when they have an idea? That’s what it can feel like when you get that “ah-ha!” moment. Yes, it’s a great idea, and everything starts with that. However, spaceflight was a great idea, and it took a while to get from that light bulb moment to the launch pad. While your idea may not have the complexity of the Mars Rover, it’s worthy of the same careful and well-planned execution.

Some people are going to tell you that the internet market is saturated. There’s no room left for good ideas, or that big players like Amazon and Ebay eat the little guys alive. Yet, there are more small businesses starting up on the internet than ever before, offering not only consumer goods like clothing, shoes, and housewares, but services from baby-sitting to forensic data recovery, entertainment, and unique or artisan made items that thumb noses at mass production. Want to brew your own beer? Roast green coffee beans at home? Got it. Want to consult with someone over your landscaping problem? Do you crave a box of new experiences delivered to your door every month? Got it. As long as you have something someone wants, and is willing to pay for, they will come. It’s that simple.

Putting the Wheels On

Developing your online business is not going to be easy, but don’t feel that you have to have everything just so before you start, otherwise you’ll never get on the road. According to SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) some of the best online businesses to start now are services such as businesses offering home theater installation, virtual data rooms, translation services, and forensic data services. Even landscapers and other contractors can benefit from having a go-to website where clients can make appointments, schedule services, and see a menu of options and prices. Social media consultants, web designers, and freelance writers are naturals in a web based economy, too.

Do you have a passion? Can you market it to others? From green coffee beans to handmade crafts, specialty retail is full of niches that can be roomy and comfortable. Handmade cosmetics and bath items, ethnic foods and cultural items, and even curated subscription boxes have carved their niches into something mainstream. Online ecommerce retail operations have exploded from the confines of eBay, with fully integrated online ecommerce “hubs” springing up to offer inventors and entrepreneurs access to millions of potential customers from their garages or bricks and mortar locations. Business Insider notes that ecommerce, even in a less-than-booming economy is booming on its own, with mobile users starting to bust into the double digits for the first time.

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They Can’t Give You Money if They Can’t Find You

Statistic Brain reports that as of 2014, 53 percent of small businesses have websites not just for ecommerce but for purposes as varied as lead capture, general information, setting appointments or taking reservation, or even something as simple as a blog.

In fact, the higher the annual revenue, the more likely the business is to have a website. Starting with businesses bringing in $100,000 to $499,000 in annual revenue, 45 percent of those businesses have websites, while in the upper range of $2.5 million to $4.5 million in revenues, 65 percent of those businesses have a website. While you don’t want to get involved in the chicken versus egg debate, when someone can find you online and complete a transaction, they’re going to come back for more.

Making a Roadmap

Everything may start with that idea, but you also need a plan, and cutting corners in vital areas in your startup could cost you further down the road. Statistic Brain notes that 44 percent of startups will fail in their first year, mostly due to lack of planning, inadequate record keeping, and pricing errors.

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Planning for success means getting small business advice from trustworthy sources, understanding your market, and working out your finances and supply chain. While not everyone can do this on the fly, revisiting your plans and tweaking them for better efficiency and workflow means a smoother ride later on.