Running a business can have a powerful impact on your life and the lives of those around you. But before you can run a business, you need to learn how to start an online business. There’s never a specific right time to start a business. Learning how to own a business is like starting a relationship. You should start an online business when you have the time and attention to commit to it. 

However, there’s no problem with starting a side business while you are still working another job. Once you’ve decided on an online business idea, you’ll want to do your due diligence and, eventually, give it life. Here’s how to start an online business, step-by-step

Starting an online Business in 5 steps

Starting an online business isn’t easy, but it also doesn’t have to be daunting. Whether you want to bring a product into the world to solve a problem you’re having, build a profitable business to be self-employed, create business opportunities for the people around you, or bring in some extra money every month, these steps on how to start an online business can help you make your dreams a reality.

It’s time to bring your online business idea to life

  1. Validate your idea with market research
  2. Develop your product or service
  3. Set up your business finances
  4. Find vendors and suppliers
  5. Build your website

1. Validate your idea with market research

It might sound harsh, but it’s true: just because you think you have a great idea, that doesn’t mean there’s a market for it. Before investing your time and energy into starting your business, research how feasible it is and whether there’s any potential buyer interest. You can hire an agency to conduct market research for you, but if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can also take the DIY approach.

2. Develop your product or service

You’ve validated your idea, now it’s time to turn it into a reality. Whether you’re selling a product or service, you need to create it. Find a manufacturer to bring your product to life, create packages of your service offerings, or write your book and identify a self-publishing option to bring it to fruition.

If you go the dropshipping route, the product has already been developed for you. It’s up to you to choose the products you’re passionate about or that you’ve identified a hot market for. To help you, we’ve put together a guide to finding the best products to dropship.

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3. Set up your business finances

“How do I open a business bank account?” is a common question for many new entrepreneurs. After you’ve officially registered your business with your local government, you should have the tax identification numbers and other information required to open a business bank account.

As you grow, you might need funding for future endeavors, be it a new product launch or marketing and advertising spend. Having business bank accounts makes it easier for you to manage that capital, as well as track your revenue and expenses.

Having a bank account is also helpful when it comes to tax preparation, since your business-related transactions will be in a single place. As your business finances get more complicated, hiring a professional accountant or tax professional could be a viable option.

4. Find vendors and suppliers

Product-based online businesses, in particular, may require lots of business relationships. For example: a manufacturer, a dropshipper, or a third-party logistics coordinator. When identifying which partnerships you want to move forward with, it’s best to shop around and compare your options to make sure you’re getting the best solution for your needs.

Other online businesses may require different relationships or contractors. If you’re writing a book, for example, you may want to hire a professional editor and book designer.

5. Build your website

If you want to start a business online, you need to have a website. And to generate online sales, you’ll need to incorporate payment processing functionality. First, choose a domain name and verify that it’s available. You can purchase a domain name for less than $20 a year in some cases. From there, you can build your own store on a platform like Shopify and start accepting payments from customers right away.

Start, grow, and market your business with

Your online store is all about first impressions. Visitors should be able to know in a matter of seconds what you’re selling. Use plain language to describe the benefit your product provides, and who it’s for.

Now that you know how to open your own online business, it’s time to get started. 

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