THE FOLLOWING IS A GUEST-WRITTEN ARTICLE BY CAROLINE BLACK AT JAVAPRESSE.COM
There’s a common misconception floating around the business world today, that starting a business is simple. Just set something up and it will fund a life of travel and fun for you. After all, anyone can set up an online shopping cart or website and start selling products. The difficult part is figuring out how to attract customers to your brand, earn the trust of your clients, and develop a consistent profit margin – without pulling your hair out.
The deeper you get into the rabbit hole of business ownership, the more you’ll begin to realize that the benefits of launching your own online venture don’t come without their challenges. While you will be able to tap into the advantages of choosing your own hours, working from home, and pursuing your passions, you’ll also need a plan of action in place if you want your new company to be a success.
Here are just some of the steps you’ll need to follow to set yourself up for success in the digital era.
Step 1: Start with a Vision, Passion, and Plenty of Caffeine
Creating a company from scratch is no easy feat. It takes a serious amount of planning, a lot of late nights and many cups of freshly-ground coffee before you discover the opportunity that’s right for you. The best way to make sure you’re getting started on the right foot is to investigate niches that you’re already passionate about.
Most lifestyle ventures start with a focus on a single industry, usually one you are already interested in. For instance, you might want to sell artisan wines, hand-made clothes, or jewelry. Whatever your chosen niche, get online and start googling trends in your local marketplace. This will help you to discover which of your passions have the biggest potential audience.
Once you’ve found a “sellable” idea, you’ll be able to dive deeper into the concept, and come up with a “Unique Selling Point” (USP) for your organization – this will be the thing that differentiates you from everyone else in your space. While choosing a USP isn’t always easy, if you’re working with a product or service you feel confident with, you’ll find that it’s much easier to create that one-of-a-kind brand.
Step 2: Find a Way to Keep Track of Your Finances
Numbers will always play a big part in the success of any business. When you start your journey as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to track your incoming and outgoing expenses to make sure that you’re making a profit. While you might just want to fund your travels, you still want to ensure you making money rather than losing it.
Additionally, watching over your cash flow will also mean that you have all the right information to hand when it’s time to interact with the tax office.
If you’re the kind of person that struggles with things like invoices and additions, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you with this area. Book-keeping apps ensure that you can update your financial standings in a matter of minutes so that you can focus your attention and time on other aspects of your new business.
Step 3: Build Your Online Presence
It’s tough to build a sustainable online business without a powerful presence on the web. Once you’ve figured out what kind of company you want to run by looking at your passions and your dreams, and you know how you’re going to track your expenses, it’s time to create a platform for yourself online. This means choosing a domain name and hosting account.
Fortunately, creating a domain name is incredibly simple. You can do it while you’re eating healthy snacks on your sofa or waiting for the train. All you need to do is check online to make sure that the name you want hasn’t been taken by another brand, then you can purchase the name from a company like GoDaddy, or HostGator.
Step 4: Launch Your Website and Blog
Purchasing a domain and hosting for your website doesn’t mean that you’re automatically visible online. What it means is that you have the behind-the-curtain stuff you need to make your website work. Once you’ve got that, you’ll need to create something on the front-end to attract and engage your audience.
WordPress is a great platform to use for this purpose, and it’s one of the biggest content management systems or “CMS” solutions around. With WordPress, you can launch your website in minutes, set up a blog and, be posting content in minutes. You don’t need to be a programming specialist either!
Remember, before you decide that you don’t need a blog to run your company online, remember that a content marketing plan will give you a way of enhancing your search engine ranking, attracting visitors, and demonstrating your authority to customers in your space.
Step 5: Start Building Your Email List
When your website and blog page are all set-up, you can start to build a list of potential leads that you may be able to sell to in the future. All you need to do is include a sign-up form on your website that people can use if they want to be notified whenever you release a new article or add something new to your store.
When you start to feel more comfortable with the concept of email marketing, you’ll be able to explore things like segmentation to help you send more relevant messages to the right people, at the right times. For instance, you could have an email list of people who have bought from you before, and a separate selection of addresses for people who are yet to buy anything.
Today’s customers are looking for personalized connections with brands, make sure that they look forward to hearing from you by sending messages that are relevant to each client.
Step 6: Choose your Promotional Strategy
Unfortunately, the “if you build it, they will come” strategy doesn’t work for today’s online business world. Since content marketing leaders see a 7.8 times higher rate of traffic generation than their competitors, it makes sense that at least part of your promotional strategy would be based on content. For instance, you could double-down on the blog mentioned above, or you might decide to invest in videos, infographics, or podcasts instead.
Aside from using content to attract people to your website with information and entertainment, you can also consider using social media. Today, the brands with social media presence are often the ones that have the best impact online, so find out where your target customer spends their free time, and make sure you have a profile on that channel.
Other promotional strategies include:
- Guest posting
- Press releases
- Pay-per-click advertisements
- Social paid advertisements
Step 7: Establish a Strategy
Finally, if you want to get through your first year in business without burning out, then you need to make sure you have a strategy in place for tackling the stress ahead.
Building a lifestyle business can be a wonderful experience, but it comes with several issues you’ll need to face before you begin to see the cash rolling in.
Consider spending some time on a stress-free strategy, where you define how many hours you’re going to spend on each task a week. For instance, you might spend 15 minutes a day on social media marketing, 2 hours a day on content creation, and thirty minutes a day on networking. The more carefully you plan out each day, the easier it will be to keep yourself on the right track. Remember – nothing is set in stone. As you continue to learn about the business world, you can always come back to your strategy and adjust it to suit the changing nature of your company.
About the author: Caroline is a creative writer and blogger who loves the freedom the digital life gives her. Since she does all her work online, she has seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to online businesses.