It’s just about everybody’s dream to have their own business, selling products they are passionate about.
And these days, everything is online. Not only are online businesses convenient for consumers, they provide work from home opportunities for stay-at-home parents and those wanting to make an extra income out of business hours. They can also be great starting points for those who don’t have the capital to purchase franchises or to start up a business in a premises. But how do you start? Stay At Home Mum has done the research for you on how to start an online business and realise your full business potential.
1. Have an awesome product or service, preferably a unique one!
As with any new business, storefront or online, you need a fantastic product to sell. You need to have extensive knowledge about your product or service and it helps to be passionate about it. Make sure your product is different, and make that difference stand out. If you sell jewellery made from organic bamboo beads, make this your major point of difference and selling point. If you sell BPA-free, ergonomically designed, teething friendly sippy cups, put it out there that your product is one of a kind.
Have a look at things that you like yourself, and start from there. Interested in beauty? Look at sourcing a great makeup line. Love gardening? Look for a unique product in that world. Use websites like Pinterest to get some ideas on what people like and are talking about.
If you have a service, and want to ‘add value’, consider doing an e-course or producing an e-book.
2. Educate yourself.
It helps to have background expertise to accompany your product. A qualification in beauty therapy will not only add to your credibility as a reliable source of information, but gives you an edge if you are selling beauty products or skin care. Personal experience or qualifications in nutrition, intolerances and food allergies will make your cookbooks stand out from the rest if you can offer advice to your customers. Look for online courses that you can study at home, or do loads of research on the product or industry.
A good idea is to join a few business groups on Facebook or Linkedin to see what people are talking about, and perhaps even find a mentor so you can ask a heap of questions about getting started.
3. Define your demographic.
Who do you want to buy your product? Being in online business gives you access to millions of customers, but you will also face a lot more competition. Knowing who you are selling to will make it significantly easier to market your product to this particular demographic and recognise strategies that you can use to appeal to your target audience.
Start a Facebook Page for your business, then analyse your customers using the insights to see the ages, sex and location of your customers. This will help you formulate a good strategy for advertising and developing further products for your business.
4. Construct a solid business plan.
Having a plan is the key to great success. You will need to know your business running costs, including production, postage, web hosting, GST including costs for insurance. For instance, Professional Indemnity Insurance will help you protect your business against claims of malpractice or professional misconduct.
You will also need to have a vision of what you want to achieve with your online business and a mission statement of sorts. You will also need to research and follow the regulations for running a business; the laws and obligations for shopfront businesses are the same for online business.
5. Register your business and business name.
6. Make the most of free technology.
The following apps are available through www.business.gov.au and are designed specifically to assist Australians with setting up and running their online business.
- MyBizPlan – this business planning app provides an interactive template to help guide you through the process of creating a well-structured business plan, tailored to your business.
- MarketMyBiz – this marketing planning app is an interactive tool that steps you through the process of creating a personalised marketing plan.
- MyBizShield – the MyBizShield app steps you through the process of creating an emergency management plan, tailored specifically to your business.
For fantastic advice and up-to-date information on rules, laws and regulations, tips to help you get started and even tools to help you start up and maintain your online business (including making sure your transactions are safe and secure, marketing your online goods and importing and exporting products), Stay At Home Mum has found the most helpful website, The Australian Government’s Principal Business Resource.