You have racked your brain and finally hammered out all of the details for an online business. Now you are ready to get started, itching to have your first sale under your belt, but you find yourself scratching your head, wondering where to begin.
There are several steps you need to take in order to insure you have a well thought-out plan and are ready to provide your customers with the service they deserve once you hang out your e-shingle, so to speak. Make sure you have done your homework and have given considerable thought to each of these key concepts.
There are millions of good ideas out there, but have you done your research to make sure you are selling something the consumer wants? To be successful, you have to have a product that is in demand. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if nobody is willing to pay money for it, your efforts are all for naught.
Perhaps you are filling a void in the marketplace. That is really the best position to be in; to have something unique that consumers have a desire to buy. If you can enter into a niche market, you will have less competition to worry about.
If you are providing a product or service that is already widely available, you need to determine how to make yours stand out from the crowd. You need to be able to offer a lower price, faster service, or otherwise have a unique spin on the idea.
Once you have decided upon your product or service of choice, write out a plan on how the product will be distributed.
Develop what is known as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your product. You have to determine what it is that makes your product original, and play on that idea.
Once you have developed your USP, write out a marketing plan. Whether you plan to run advertisements in the local newspaper, hand out flyers, send out e-mails to a list, you need to know what you are going to do to promote your product and at what intervals you are going to advertise.
Do not begin to market your product, though, until you have all of the elements in place to allow you to sell it.
Ensure Funding for Your Product
A lot of people have great ideas for an e-business but overlook this very important component. You need to ensure you have enough money to set up and host your website, purchase or produce your product, pay for any shipping costs, and cover any other expenses you may have that are associated with running your business. Make sure you have enough funding to cover your business expenses for at least several months, and remember that most businesses operate at a loss for the first year. Take all of this into consideration before you begin.
You need to develop a website that is attractive, informative, and easy to navigate. Do not clutter your website so that it is a dizzying jumble to your customer, and do not make it difficult for your customer to find what they need. There are several good programs that can aid you in website development, or you can seek the assistance of a professional web developer.
If your business is exclusively or primarily conducted via the Internet, you cannot underestimate the importance of a good website.
You also need to set up a merchant account that allows you to process credit card payments, and attach a shopping cart to your website. Many web services offer all-in-one packages and will help you add these items to your site. Make it easy for your customer to buy, and make it easy for them to pay.
Go through your checklist one more time to ensure you have not forgotten anything. Make sure you have your inventory on hand, or that it can be sent to your customer in a timely manner. If you have a downloadable e-product, make some test runs to ensure the downloads are functioning properly.
Have your business phone line, e-mail, website, shopping cart, and everything else you need to operate your business in working order.
Once everything is in place, you are ready for business. Now you can begin marketing your business in earnest. You are ready for your first customer, secure in the knowledge he will be given the attention and service he deserves. You are ready for him to spend his money with you, and send you on your way to e-business success.