As an accounting firm, everyone here at Tax Agility has the fair share of clients who have a desire to develop the web based side of their business. Sometimes this is somebody with an established business looking to grow in that dimension, other times it is a new entrepreneurial venture. Over the years, we’ve seen many successes and failures. So we thought we’d share a few thoughts around what it takes to establish a firm beginning to an online business.
The internet has provided an immense opportunity for almost anyone to set up and run a business on-line. Age is no inhibitor either, even though it’s easy to assume the internet is a younger person’s playground – that is simply not true. Although there are plenty of young entrepreneurs making a name for themselves with successful web based businesses, the older generations are the masters behind many profitable e-Commerce sites too. In addition to that, venues such as eBay have spawned a huge industry where people of all ages buy and sell almost anything. Many have made successful part-time businesses out of this.
But what does it really take to build a successful online business? What are the essential steps anyone considering a foray into the online business world needs to take? In this post, we’ll outline the seven essential steps you need to consider.
- Passion vs good business
For many people, their first steps in to the world of online business is through a passion or a hobby. Something they enjoy doing becomes something they ‘could’ make money at. There are many examples, from handicrafts, online trading, to naturally extend an existing brick and mortar business online. However, passion doesn’t always mean good business. Just because you enjoy something and people around you tell you what you do is great, it doesn’t mean it transfers to business success. This is the first of some very hard lessons that have to be learnt, otherwise a lot of hard work and money will be wasted.
- What is it you actually intend to sell?
Having a clear definition of what it is you intend to sell and importantly, the value it has to offer and to whom, is the central part of any marketing strategy you develop. Start by writing out ‘an elevator pitch’. This is a simple exercise that has you describe your product or service in a way that would allow you to quickly explain it to a potential customer in 30 seconds or less. It’s also a great way of distilling what you plan to do to essential facts that will help you in your research phase.
- Research – Is there a market and what is its potential?
If ever there is a ‘passion killer’, you are likely to discover it while doing your research. Don’t get disheartened. Researching the opportunity for your idea is critical. It’s also the stage where you can uncover some new and exciting ideas you may not have considered. What’s the best way to research? Many books have been written on this, but the simplest way is to start by using a good keyword discovery tool. There are too many tools to list, so just Google it (even Google has a keyword tool which can help you).
A keyword discovery tool helps you to search by using keywords related to your likely product. The key here is to think laterally. These days it’s not about the keyword so much, more so about the intention behind it. So think about the ‘problems’ your product or service can solve and start researching round the types of questions people would ask that might lead them to a service or product such as yours.
This will give rise to a whole different list of keywords. The purpose of finding these? It means you can now use them to research and discover more about your intended market and, most importantly, the competitive landscape.
Googling some of these terms will provide a wealth of information on the market space you intend to operate and compete in. Twitter and YouTube are also good places to check for activity around your idea. If you dig deep enough, you may even find market statistics and growth projections.
(To be continued)