10 Steps to Starting an Online Business from Scratch

December 30, 2022

10 Steps to Starting an Online Business from Scratch

Starting an online business isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. You can do it! And if you follow these 10 steps, you will have a much better chance at success than if you try to wing it on your own.

Key Takeaways: 10 Steps to Starting an Online Business from Scratch

  1. Define your business idea: Clearly outline your business concept, target audience, and unique selling proposition to create a solid foundation for your online venture.
  2. Conduct market research: Analyse your target market, competitors, and industry trends to validate your idea and identify opportunities for growth and differentiation.
  3. Create a business plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that covers your goals, strategies, target market, competitive analysis, and financial projections to guide your decision-making.
  4. Choose a business structure: Decide on the most suitable legal structure for your online business, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC), and register your business accordingly.
  5. Obtain necessary permits and licenses: Research and obtain any required permits, licenses, or certifications needed to operate your online business legally and in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
  6. Set up a professional website: Register a domain name, select a web hosting provider, and design a user-friendly website that showcases your products or services and reflects your brand identity.
  7. Optimise for search engines: Implement SEO best practices to improve your website's visibility and rankings in search engine results, driving more traffic to your site.
  8. Develop a marketing strategy: Create a multi-channel marketing plan that includes content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising to promote your business and attract customers.
  9. Establish a system for managing finances: Set up a reliable system for tracking expenses, managing invoices, processing payments, and monitoring financial performance to ensure the long-term sustainability of your business.
  10. Measure and analyse performance: Regularly monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the success of your marketing efforts, identify areas for improvement, and adapt your strategies to optimize results and achieve your business goals.
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There's a lot of information on the internet about starting an online business. But it can be hard to find the best resources and piece them together into a really solid plan for your start-up. So, we put together this list of steps that will help you navigate everything from choosing a name and platform to setting up your legal structure. We've also sprinkled in some extra resources to help with each step along the way.

1. Find your niche

The first step to starting an online business is to find your niche. Your niche is the target audience you want to serve, and it's important to define this as specifically as possible.

  • Define your target audience.
  • How do they think?
  • What do they like?
  • What are their values?

Once you've defined who your target audience is, it's time to find a need and fill it. The most successful online businesses have found a problem in their industry, solved it for their customers, and then capitalised on that solution by expanding into other areas of need for similar groups of people (known as "niches"). For example: if you're selling widgets that solve problems for widget users in general, but don't have any particular type of user in mind—such as people with pet turtles or people who love riding motorcycles—you could potentially expand into those niches once sales pick up by creating additional products for them (like turtle tanks or motorcycle helmets).

2. Name your business

You may have a name for your business that you think is perfect, but before you go forward with it, make sure the domain is available. It's much harder to change your domain name later than it is to get one from the beginning. You can check if your preferred domain name is available by using an online service like GoDaddy and typing in the exact term or phrase you want as your website title. Once you've found an available one, search for other sites with similar names so that you don't accidentally pick something already owned by someone else!

When choosing a business name, aim for simplicity and readability. One-word names are best because they're easy to remember; two-word names are fine too if they help clarify what type of company or product they're selling (e.g., "Insurance Agency"). If possible try avoiding both long strings of words (like “BestOffersOnEverythingEver") or short acronyms (like "WYG"). Also be aware that certain combinations of letters sound similar to each other—for example: TAYLOR - THOMAS = 'TAYRI' - THOMAS = 'TARYN'. This can lead people who hear about them later on down the road mispronouncing these companies' names incorrectly when talking about them aloud again further down the road!

3. Find the right e-commerce platform

You've done the research, and now you know what you'd like to sell. It's time to find an e-commerce platform that's right for you. An e-commerce platform is software that allows you to set up your website and sell products online.

It's important to choose an e-commerce platform with a good reputation, as well as one that will be easy for customers to use if they're buying from your site. The cheaper options may not have many features available or might not be easy for new users, so do some research before making any decisions about which platform is best for your business needs.

4. Choose your payment options

  • Choose your payment options.
  • Make sure you have a secure payment processor.
  • Make sure you have the right merchant account. This can be anything from PayPal, Stripe or Square to Authorize.net or First Data and more!
  • Make sure you have the right bank account for your business (some banks require a small fee for each transaction). Before deciding on what type of bank account is best for your business it's important to understand that some services like Paypal and Stripe take a percentage of every payment made through their platform while other services like Authorize.Net charge an additional flat rate per transaction depending on how many transactions are being processed in any given month (usually between $0 - $15). It's also important when researching this option that they offer support 24/7 since problems with any system often happen at night or during holidays when nobody else is working either!!

5. Identify your shipping options

  • Ship from home. This is the easiest way to get started, but requires you to be at your computer all day and keep an eye on your orders as they come in. It's also not the most cost-effective option unless you have a large volume of packages.
  • Ship from a fulfilment centre: This is also easy and inexpensive if you're planning on shipping fewer than 50 orders per month; otherwise, it can become more expensive than other options like Amazon FBA or hiring someone else to ship for you (more on this below).
  • Use an outside shipper: If shipping large volumes of products each day isn't feasible or cost-effective for your business model, using an outside shipper may be the best option for you—just make sure they can handle what kind of items are being sold through your website so that they're prepared if there's any damage during transit!  You'll want to look into their policies as well since some companies will cover damages while others don't offer any protection whatsoever; these policies vary greatly based upon which company is chosen so carefully consider how long each one offers coverage before committing yourself fully into using an outside service provider instead (if possible).

6. Prep your social media channels

  • Create your social media accounts, and set up your website URL in all of them. You can have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account that are all linked back to your website (which is super important). Give yourself a username for each platform—and make sure it's something that people will remember!
  • Add a profile photo for each platform as well as a cover photo for each page on Facebook; these are the first things people will see when they go through your various social media channels so make sure they're visually appealing!
  • Next add some information about yourself/your business: where you live (if relevant), what type of business you're running etc., so people know who they're following! If possible also include links (or "call-outs") directing followers back home on other platforms if there's something specific they might be interested in learning more about - i.e., if someone follows my Twitter account I could include links saying "Check out my blog at !"

7. Determine your pricing structure

When it comes to pricing, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each type of business has its own unique pricing structure and strategy. If you're unsure about what toi charge you can always hire a business coach for startups to help work out your optimial pricing strategy.

This can be confusing and frustrating if you’re not sure where to start. The good news is that there are many ways to create successful pricing models for your products, services, and more!

You might consider using a subscription model with your customers (like Netflix or Dropbox). Or you could use an affiliate program where affiliates promote your products/services on their own websites in exchange for a commission on sales generated through their website. A crowdfunding campaign also offers another way for startups or small businesses to raise money via preorders before launching a product or service into market—and all without having to spend any upfront costs!

8. Create a brand identity

The next step is to create a brand identity. Your brand identity is the personality of your business, and it includes everything from your logo and colours to your tagline and fonts. Creating a strong, consistent brand identity helps people identify with your company as quickly as possible.

To create a memorable and unique brand identity:

  • Consider what you want to say about yourself as a company—what are its values? How do they differ from competitors? Clearly define this in writing so everyone involved can understand it clearly.
  • Choose colours that complement each other well, but don’t use too many different hues or shades within one element (such as text). A few complementary colours will make things look more cohesive than if there were many different ones used together across all media channels — creating confusion for viewers who might not be able to differentiate between items on the page at first glance! Consistently using these same colours throughout all media platforms will help reinforce consistency within the brand aesthetic over time; this makes them easier for consumers/users/customers alike

9. Invest in marketing

You may think that marketing is all about advertising and not much else, but it's actually much more than that. Marketing is really about building relationships with your customers, which will lead them to become repeat buyers.

It may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you start seeing results from your efforts, you'll be glad you made the investment. Here are some ways to promote your business:

  • If possible, create an email list for current and future clients so they can stay updated on new products or services offered by the company. It's also important to have separate lists for customers who have purchased from the company before versus those who haven't purchased anything yet. This way they'll know what type of offers are being sent out based on previous purchases or lack thereof (just make sure not everyone gets access). You should send out regular emails every month or so with updates about special discounts as well as other information related directly back into their inboxes such as newsletters related specifically towards topics like health & fitness."

10. Set up a legal structure

First, you need to set up the legal structure of your business. There are several different ways to structure a business and each one has pros and cons, but you should choose the option that's best for you.

  • Sole proprietorship: If you're starting a business on your own (and don't have anyone else helping), then this is probably your best bet. You'll be responsible for all aspects of running your company, but it will also make taxes and insurance easier because they won't apply differently than if it were just you working at home instead of in an office space.
  • Partnership: This is when two or more people join forces together with their money and expertise in order to start up a new venture. The tricky part here is figuring out how much each person will invest into their partnership so that everyone feels like they're getting a fair deal without taking too much risk on themselves—some partnerships involve equal contributions by both parties while others just have one partner who invests more money initially (but gets paid back later).
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC combines features from both sole proprietorships and partnerships; individuals get personal liability protection like with sole proprietorship but can divide ownership rights among partners like with partnerships so multiple people are involved financially from the beginning stages onward until termination occurs later down line somewhere down road sometime far enough away from now where no one can remember exactly why this happened anyway anymore except maybe somebody knows why but nobody ever asks them about it anymore anyway so who cares anyways right? It's not worth worrying about now."

With the right tools, a solid plan and determination, you can start an online business that you can be proud of.


Starting an online business isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. You can do it! And if you follow these 10 steps, you will have a much better chance at success than if you try to wing it on your own.