The age old: bored of your job, sick of your bosses demands and generally frustrated with the way things are going, so you decide that now is the right time to start your own business! I tell you, I have had some of my best business ideas just sitting watching TV, so I have decided that in the true spirit of things my blog post would reflect this!
If you are thinking about starting a business, well guess what, now is a fantastic time to do so. The failing of the high street is, in fact, an opportunity for the more technological savvy use;, literally it has never been easier to create a website and start selling. Best thing is, you don't even have to be proficient in html coding, and actually, you don't even need to know anything about programing!
I have given you the 10 foundations to starting your business, without even leaving your sitting room!
Number # 1. Product
So the fundamental to any business is a product, think along the line of what you enjoy yourself. I find that it is always much easier to write and promote something that you truly believe in. What about an online book store, a boutique online clothing shop, or luxury tea! Literally anything that you want; but there is something fundamentally important - there must be a demand! You want to start by drawing up a SWOT analysis, look at some of the competitors within the field and work out how you can exploit their weaknesses!
Step #2. Exploit Gaps in the Market!
The internet is full of excellent tools to analyse markets, for example use Google Trends to work out market trends, this will give you a better understanding of how and when particular markets operate. There are a few key questions that you want to keep in mind thoug: "can I source the product easily?", "is the market saturated?" and "who are the major online competitors?" Now this is may be a strange concept, but online competitors may actually differ from the physical competitors on the high street.
Think about how you will be able to compete online with some of the other players, just do some general searches for your products and see what the first results are in the search engines.
Number #3. Business Plan
So what do I mean by a business plan - well, how about I start by discussing what I don't mean first. I am not referring to detailed projection and cost analysis of your entire business. I am also not referring to the fact that you need to work out every facet of growth and development and strategically plan everything. What I am referring to is write down a few things that you would like to achieve, simply bullet points will be fine, but make sure that you have the knowledge or at least someone with the knowledge to be able to get you there.
Number #4. Create a Brand
Branding is important, probably not so much in the initial start-up stage, but you need a basis to grow on. Think of you brand as a foundation of your business, your business is not a static object, it is a dynamic and driven centre of knowledge and commerce and in a digital age: impressions are everything. Make sure that you develop a strong foundation and brand.
So again we need to keep things simple, you are of course starting an "armchair business". If you are not much of a designer then check out Elance or Fiverr.com. You can pretty much have everything you want at your fingertips: graphic designers, content writers, programmers, app developers - pretty much anything!
Number #5. Funding
So one thing that you are sure to be considering is the start-up cost of your business, but there is help out there, and again, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own home! The internet pretty much has everything that you could possibly imagine, including investors! Try Kickstarter or Rockethub - these two sites are all about the start-up businesses. Pitch your ideas and see if you are made any offers, it is that simple! If someone likes your idea, then they may offer you funding. Make sure that your pitch is clear and concise; put yourself in the investor's shoes!
Number #6. Website
So let's bring ourselves up to speed, we have our brand, our plan with what we want to achieve and, hopefully, investors; now the website! Personally, I am not a fan of this stage, but for some this is where the fun begins. To an extent I think that it annoys me, my lack of being able to move things to within a fraction of an inch, but hey that's me. If you are doing things on a budget, then a professional may not be an option, so what is the best option? WordPress - pretty much an industry standard. The WordPress community is enormous and there is always help at hand. Wordpess has thousands of plugins and it is ideal if you want to throw up a site that looks professional for minimal cost.
Number #7. A Domain
You are going to need a domain, often when I am developing a site I use Wamp and develop it on a local host, then transport the site to the live server when it is finished. So what you will want to do is check with a hosting provider if your domain name is available, check with someone like Hostgator or Godaddy is another popular domain. If your exact domain is taken don't worry, just be creative and try to keep it short and similar to your brand name. If at all possible get both .co.uk and .com top level domains, and make sure that you redirect one domain to the other domain!
Number #8. Spread the Word
Finally, all the hard stuff is done, well in some terms anyway, and now it is time to spread the word. Get you name out there, tell friends, print business cards and get yourself on Social Media. Create a Pintrest, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and You Tube, of course these will depend on where your customers hang-out. There are of course forums, and there will pretty much always be a forum in your niche! Another important factor in driving traffic to your site start a blog. One big mistake that businesses make is…. Self-promotional blogs. I have no idea why, but business try to use their blog to blatantly promote themselves; don't! Blogs should be informative and interesting; I like the term information marketing. Be engaging, and informational - not self-promotional.
Number #9. Reporting
There are many reporting application out there, but to be honest probably your most viable option is Google Analytics, what can be better than data from the largest search engine in the world? There are some other fancy reporting tools out there, but GA is free and easy to setup.
Number #10. Enjoy
Well now it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, keep checking your stat and work out where you traffic and conversions are coming from. Once you have a good idea then just watch the money start rolling in!
James King, an author and entrepreneur with a qualification for the Academy of Leadehip and Management.