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How to Start a Business Online, from Home

In this article we will talk about how to start a business online from home.

Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no additional cost for you.

Building a business online can be an appealing option for people who want to be their own boss.

Those who are familiar with the process and have observed other entrepreneurs know that building a successful business is definitely possible.

However, starting a business is not an easy process. It takes patience, dedication, and time.

What follows are some key steps that aspiring digital entrepreneurs should take to get started.

Steps to Start an Online Business from Home

Many people wish to find online jobs or side-hustles to earn some extra income.

They don’t realize that there are actually many ways to become a digital entrepreneur.

The process starts with some detailed research and a solid business plan.

1. Choose the Product or Service You Want to Offer

Ask yourself, “What can I offer to the world?”

Choosing and designing the service or product you are going to sell is one of the most important aspects of any business online because it will set your business apart from your competition. The most popular products and services available online include:

  • Digital Products: for example, e-books, software, online courses, templates.
  • Personal Services: This is a great option if you consider yourself an expert in your field and want to provide coaching sessions.

2. Start with a Great Plan

To start an online business from home, you need to have a plan. And usually a good business plan includes things like:

Branding

Your business must be unique and have several points of difference that set you apart from your competitors. Your branding should be strong enough to make your service or product appealing.

You want your potential customers to crave your product.

Target market

Before even starting, it’s important to have clear who your target audience is.

The best way to reach them is by asking them what they want and how much money they are willing to spend on your service.

You can do this through market research – it’s one of those things many businesses outsource.

Vision

In short, the vision is where exactly you want to go. It’s the ultimate, long-term goal for your online business.

Mission

The mission of your business is what you choose to do today to reach your long-term goals.

Pricing

Simply put, you need to have an idea of the value of your product or service. We will talk about it more in detail later.

KPIs

The metrics you want to use to measure your company performance. Some examples of KPIs are the number of monthly sales, number of articles published on the company blog each month, or a landing page conversion rate.

You can make this process easier by choosing an idea you have tested in the past or an already existing business model that is already working.

3. Research to Find out What Needs to be Done

Before you even start your business online from home, you should do some research and find out what you need to get the ball rolling. One of the best ways to do this is analyze one or more businesses in your field that are already successful.

In other words, a great idea is to observe and analyze your future competitors.

By doing this, you’ll inevitably learn a lot.

Once you have done this, you will have a better idea of what steps you should take.

And it will be easier for you to set short, mid, and long-term goals.

4. Take the Time to Develop Your Strategy

First of all you need to design your business model.

What does that even mean? Ask yourself this question: how do you want to earn money?

Do you want to offer coaching sessions?

Or do you want to sell products? Are you thinking of starting a dropshipping business?

Do you want to start a blog and monetize it with ads and affiliate links?

A great place where you can get more business model ideas is Flippa.com. It’s a platform where people sell their online businesses and explain in detail how those businesses are making money right now.

Once you have a clear idea of how you want to monetize your business, you’ll also need to decide if you want to work alone, partner with someone, or hire employees.

Here are several common strategies.

Solopreneur

This is a common strategy – especially now with the boom of the creator economy. Not everyone has all the skills needed to start a business from scratch on their own. In fact, almost no one does.

The reality is, what you need to start a business online is an entrepreneurial mindset. People with an entrepreneurial mindset are self-starters. They are curious and willing to learn new skills. They are hungry. And they are the ones who end up building successful businesses. Because they don’t give up at the first obstacle they find.

Partner with other digital entrepreneurs

This is a good strategy for those who don’t feel comfortable being on their own and work better in a team than alone.

This can be a successful strategy, especially when two people have the same objectives and can combine their skills, funds and resources to start a business online.

Delegate and outsource

This is a strategy many business owners choose.

You can delegate 90% of your work, or even just a few tasks. Delegating and outsourcing most of your tasks can help you save time and energy and focus on the most important aspects of your business online, like planning and adjusting your strategy.

In other words, you will still need to take care of some key aspects of your business, but you won’t be overwhelmed by having to deal with too many things. The main advantage of this strategy is you will have time for yourself, which is the most important thing for many.

All you have to do is choose the strategy that work best for the time and effort you intend to put into your business.

5. Digital Marketing

If you want to take advantage of the Internet as a marketing tool, then you need to know how to make your website visible online.

There are several methods you can use to achieve visibility online.

Social media

This is a great way to promote your business online. The most popular social media are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, TikTok and Instagram.

You can grow your presence on social media on your own or with the help of an online marketing agency.

And you can choose to grow your following organically or through paid social media marketing — for example, Facebook or Instagram ads.

My advice is to consistently publish content on two or three platforms, focus all your efforts on them, and then once you have grown a following there, keep growing your presence on other social media.

Pay-per-click ads

As explained on Wordstream, PPC is an online advertising model in which advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their online ads. 

This is an effective method to get your product in front of your potential customers. It’s a great strategy if you want to target a specific audience.

Blogging and search engine optimization (SEO)

This is a great long-term strategy for entrepreneurs who want to monetize their website with ads, affiliate links, and by selling services/digital products.

It’s in my opinion the best, less expensive strategy. 

(It’s the strategy I chose for my first blog — which now gets 100,000 views per month. And I make at least $1,000 a month in passive income from this blog, as I monetize it with ads — see the screenshot below).

Screenshot of my Mediavine dashboard

Another benefit of getting high-volume traffic is your product/service gains more visibility and credibility. And you start attracting clients.

Picture this, you are a personal trainer and provide online coaching sessions. When someone searches “online personal trainer” on Google — 6600 people search for this keyword every month — you appear among the first three organic results.

Can you imagine how much traffic you would get? And can you even imagine the impact this would have on your sales? 

The downside of this approach is it takes time, long-term commitment, patience, and a lot of work in the beginning. But in the long term it’s definitely worth it.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

As explained in Wordstream, search engine marketing refers to paid search marketing, a system where businesses pay Google to show their ads in the search results. 

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM)

This is one of the most effective ways to gain more visibility and credibility.

As explained in Forbes, word of mouth is the most valuable form of marketing—the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for your company.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

Now you might ask, how can I implement this type of marketing? Simple, create a referral program. Tell your customers they’ll earn a percentage of at least 10% for every new referred customer who buys something from you.

And make sure they are more than satisfied with your service.

Email marketing

Email marketing helps you promote your service simply by sending emails to people who are interested in your business.

As explained in The Balance Small Business,

Email marketing is the use of email to promote products or services while developing relationships with potential customers or clients.

This strategy can help you share information with your audience, increase brand loyalty, and sell your product/service. To do this you’ll need to collect email addresses of people interested in your business. And you usually do this through your website and through your content.

Influencer marketing

As explained on Sprout Social,

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses endorsements and mentions from influencers who have a large social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.

This strategy is effective because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

6. Set Up and Launch your Website

Once you have decided what type of business you want to start, and you have a clear business model in mind, you can choose whether you want to build a website or use a selling platform – like Amazon for products and Fiverr and Upwork for services.

Let’s cover the launch of a website first.

In this case, you must set up a website that aligns with your business model, everything you have learned about your potential customers, their needs, and their behaviors.

Before starting, observe and analyze the websites of your competitors and see how they are structured.

The structure of your website is probably one of the most important decisions you will make since it can make or break your business.

How to actually build a website

Some of the things you should take into consideration when setting up a website include:

  • The type of website: Do you want to start a blog to attract your potential customers through your content? Or do you want to start an e-commerce website where you can sell your products?
  • The website builder: The most common ones are WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. In my opinion, WordPress is hands down the best one.
  • Domain name: choose this carefully, as it will represent your business online from now on. Here are some great tips from GoDaddy:
    • Choose a domain name that is easy to type and to remember.
    • Keep it short.
    • Use keywords related to your niche that you’re going to target through your content.
    • Avoid numbers and hyphens.
    • Research it.
  • The hosting: This is basically the home of your website, the space on a web server where your website will be housed. Some good hosting providers are SiteGround, Bluehost, and Bigscoots.
    My favorites are definitely Bluehost (with them you can start a blog for just $2.95/mo) and Siteground.

The most important thing here is to choose a hosting provider that is reliable and has affordable plans.

It’s also important to keep in mind that many hosting providers also include domain registration, saving you money with one payment instead of two.

7. Use a Selling Platform

If you want to sell products, but don’t want to build a website, you can use e-commerce platforms like Amazon.

Something you may want to consider is the Amazon FBA program. In this case you would send your products in bulk to the Amazon warehouses (also called Fulfillment Centers), and they would take care of everything, logistic, shipment, sales.

There are some fees you would have to pay, you can use this calculator to evaluate the net profitability of a product.

If you don’t feel like selling on Amazon, here are some other great e-commerce platforms you can try:

  • Shopify
  • Etsy
  • Flipkart
  • BigCommerce
  • Shopmatic

If you want to sell services, you can use platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.

I personally prefer Upwork, as it’s more profitable in the long term. To give you an example, a few days ago, I stumbled upon the profile of a writer who has earned $4M so far. I’m not kidding.

8. The Pricing

One of the most important decisions you will have to make as a business owner is determine how much you should charge for your product or service.

Choosing a price that customers are willing to pay can be difficult. Still, there are some things that can help you set up a successful pricing strategy.

  • Take into consideration your costs.
  • Observe your competitors, and if you can, offer something at least slightly better or with more features at a better price. As explained on BDC, it’s important to set a low price to enter a market, especially if we’re talking about a competitive market. You can always raise it later.
  • Incentives: offer discounts or packages to encourage potential customers to buy your product or service.

9. Choose the Payment Options

Once you have decided the price of your products, it’s time to choose the payment options you want to offer to your clients. Here are some examples:

  • Credit Cards
  • PayPal
  • Stripe

Some Tips to Help Your Online Business Thrive

1. Be trustworthy

Your customers want to know that they are dealing with a trustworthy company, and with someone they can trust. They need to see that other people were satisfied with your business. This is why it’s worth considering online reviews and testimonial pages to build this trust.

Another great way to earn your potential customers trust is being available to them. For example, if you have a website, include a contact us section, and make sure to reply to messages within 12-24 hours.

2. Delight and surprise your customers

If you want to stand out in your industry, you not only need to offer a high-quality product/service, but you also need to add features that other products don’t have.

Imagine going to a three-stars hotel and being treated as if you were in a five-stars hotel, finding a welcome bottle of red wine in your room, getting a free pass to the hotel Spa, and having the option to have the breakfast delivered to your room for free.

Wouldn’t you feel delighted and surprised? Would you recommend that hotel to your friends and family? You probably would.

You want to trigger that feeling on your customers.

3. If you have a website, make sure it’s professional

Your website is your business card.

Every professional online business has a great website that looks professional, is up to date and easy to navigate, has fresh content, and has a great layout, appropriate for its industry.

4. Be a learning machine

This may sound obvious but it’s worth mentioning.

Learn as much as you can, especially when it comes to all those skills that can help your business thrive. You can learn more about social media, SEO, influencer marketing, blogging, accounting, PR and others.

Mastering these skills will definitely help you succeed in the long run.

5. Optimize your website for mobile devices

Today, a high percentage of the world’s population uses smartphones regularly. And people access internet mainly from their mobile devices. My website is proof of this. As you can see on the screenshot below, 81.9% of my readers access my website from a smartphone.

mobile devices percentage
Google Analytics

6. Increase your brand awareness

Whether you have a website or you work directly on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, working on your brand awareness can definitely help your business thrive. When your brand and your name are well-known, people will be more likely to choose your business over your competitors.

7. Build a presence on social media

Growing a following on social media is essential when you start an online business from home. Especially if you want to increase brand awareness and generate more sales.

Customers are increasingly using platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to search for products and services they need, and you want to be able to get in front of them as much as possible.

As mentioned on Inc., one of the benefits of being on social media is it helps establish your brand as legitimate. When Internet consumers discover a business they want to use but know little about, they often check their social media page to learn more about it.

How to Start a Business Online From Home – Final Thoughts

As Jim Rohn wisely said:

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.
And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

Starting an online business from home takes time, dedication and a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. You will be doing something you love and you will be chasing your dreams – instead of working for someone else.

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