A large proportion of the startups that have become successful companies in recent years started as online businesses. Why? Because the majority of the target group can now be found exactly there – on the Internet. Due to the advancing digitalization in many areas, this is also where most of the potential can be found. A successful online business can look very different.
Whether online store, blog, affiliate partner or social media business, many different strategies and business ideas can work very well if you know how to build your own online business. What matters here, what you have to consider and which ideas are suitable for an online business, we want to show you in this article.
Building an online business: How do I start?
To build an online business, you must first start planning your business. Whether you’ve already started your own business or you’re still employed, you should never just start and see where it takes you. Your time, money and energy are far too precious for that. That’s why we want to go through the first steps with you and show you why concrete planning of your self-employment is the be-all and end-all for your success.
FIND A BUSINESS IDEA
Building an online business means in the first step the concretization of your business idea. Do you already have an idea or are you still looking for one? There are people who absolutely want to be self-employed and are therefore looking for a lucrative business idea.
On the other hand, there are people who discover a gap in the market, spin this idea further and the idea of self-employment arises from this. Either way, to develop a business concept, you should take your time, talk to other people about it and already get some initial industry information from experts. The better you know your niche and the more concrete your business idea is, the easier it will be for you to develop a working strategy from it.
But how do you know that an idea can really be a successful business idea? You have found a working business idea if it fulfills these three factors:
- Your idea solves a real problem.
- The idea fits your founder personality.
- Your idea meets a market that is big enough for your company to make a living from it in the long term.
BUSINESS PLAN AND MARKET ANALYSIS
If the idea is already very concrete, you can write down your strategy in the second step. In the form of a business plan, your idea then becomes very real. And this is exactly what is needed to move from planning to implementation. In a business plan, you not only formulate your idea, but also create a market and competition analysis, calculate your finances and necessary investments. Define your target group and also consider where you want to be in three to five years. Business plans are usually used to convince investors and financiers to invest in the business idea. But a business plan can also simply be for you, give you orientation and structure and perhaps make you aware of certain facts that you would not have thought of before.
What we want to tell you: Clearly state your vision and formulate your goals SMART – that means specific, measurable, acceptable/attractive, realistic, and time-bound.
KNOW YOUR TARGET GROUP
Even if you have roughly defined your target group in the business plan, you should pay much more attention to this chapter. The success of your online business depends on your target group. If you can’t address them properly, whether in terms of language or channel, you won’t be able to sell your products, services or offers.
herefore, you need to take your time and collect as much data as possible for your target group analysis. What is the age of your potential customers? What is their profession? Where do they live? And what interests do they have? The more accurate your analysis, the more targeted your communication strategy can be in terms of ads, social media or email marketing.
Building an online business: The prerequisites
Now comes the exciting part. Everything important has been planned, your vision and goals have been concretized and defined. Now you should go straight into implementation. From now on, your entire focus is on achieving your vision. And now that you have done all the groundwork, you know exactly where you are going. To finally get started, however, you still need a few prerequisites – both of a technical and strategic nature. That’s why we want to go through the most important points with you at this point.
WEBSITE OR ONLINE STORE
Logically, everything starts with a website to become visible at all. But also to get in contact with customers first and to implement one or the other experience directly. Depending on whether you sell products or offer services, you also need to create or have created an online store.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be tech-savvy for that, because there are numerous providers of store software that allow easy handling by means of modular systems and also adapt to your personal design. In addition, you can of course also work with open source solutions, for which you should have a little more programming knowledge. In return, however, you have many more options when creating your store and are much more flexible.
If you can’t be found on Google, you practically don’t exist. Therefore, a website is elementary, especially if you offer services, knowledge exchange and basic information about you and your online business. Your website is your flagship or digital business card, with which you can convince the first contact. Here, too, you can consider using a modular system, a somewhat more complex content management system, or even have the website specially programmed. Just as with the online store, the website must suit you and your needs and you must be able to handle the system at best.
USE THE RIGHT CHANNELS
Once you have created your website or online store, as an online business you also need to be represented on the right channels. No customer will just walk by and “look in” like they would at a restaurant, a local boutique or a hair salon. Your online business is exclusively on the Internet, and that’s where you have to draw attention to yourself – and at the same time stand out from your competitors. That’s why you need to consider which channels you should use.
On the one hand, this can of course be the social networks, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn. On the other hand, you should also think about your visibility on Google. Here you can use “Google My Business” or – depending on the industry – special business directories. This is where it becomes clear whether you really have in-depth information about your target group and whether your marketing strategy will reach these potential customers. This data is particularly important for placing ads via Google AdWords and the like. Ultimately, it is important that you find the right channels and not to be present on every portal and every platform.
BUILDING A BRAND
Marketing also and above all includes brand building. But how can you build your online business as a brand? To do this, you first need to formulate your values and beliefs. What does your online business stand for? What do customers get from you? What is your entrepreneurial vision? It is not only important to play with emotions and symbolism, but also the added value that you can offer your customers through various channels. Everything should go hand in hand and run like a thread through all channels: the corporate design, the logo and also your corporate values and characteristics.
Email marketing can be particularly helpful in quickly binding your customers or prospects to you, keeping them constantly up to date, and getting them excited about certain promotions and offers. You can use newsletter tools and send informative messages to your customers at regular intervals.
Building an online business: What costs will I incur?
The costs for an online business seem relatively low at first, but they can rise quite quickly. It’s really difficult to name all-inclusive prices, since there are different providers. Nevertheless, we want to go through all the elementary cost points once.
Costs can first be incurred for the creation of the website or for the online store. If you use ready-made modular systems or a programmer, you will probably have to pay a monthly subscription fee. There are further costs for operating the online store, not to mention additional fees for the payment methods and licenses offered. In addition, you should also consider costs for marketing measures, possibly for additional personnel or even for legal advice.
If you offer products, you even need to consider storage equipment and necessary hardware. Where do you store your products? Do you have any products at all, or is the whole thing run through an external manufacturer? How do the products get to the customer? Do you pack your products yourself? Go through the entire production and distribution chain to make sure you don’t overlook any costs. If you have already formulated a complete business plan at the beginning, you will have already thought about this point in detail.
Build Online Business: 5 Ideas
Building your own business works very well. Because the online world holds a lot of opportunities for you as an entrepreneur. In the virtual realm of unlimited possibilities, you can not only carefully test your business idea – you can also seek opinions, reviews and inspiration in different ways. You can tweak your business faster, change processes and scale your concept. To give you an idea of what kind of online business you can start, we would like to give you a few ideas.
1st idea: Online store with products or dropshipping
If you produce products yourself, you can sell them through your online store. You also have the possibility to build up a dropshipping business. Here you sell products through your store, but the order goes directly to the manufacturer, who takes care of shipping the products. This type of online business has gained popularity in recent years because it is relatively quick to implement.
But let’s start from the very beginning. The dropshipping business model involves three elementary parties:
The sellers: as a seller, you manage your store and try to generate as many potential customers as possible. When an order comes in, you contact the wholesalers and pass on the order. Your profit is the difference between the amount the wholesalers charge for the product and the amount the customers are billed.
The end customers: They buy the product from your online store, not knowing if they’re getting dropshipped or not. Translated, this means that no one knows that you didn’t store the product yourself.
Dropshipping providers: They take the actual order and initiate the shipping of the product. The genius of this is that you don’t have to worry about formalities such as shipping, customs and distribution costs. This is all taken care of by the suppliers.
Dropshipping can therefore also be described as a type of e-commerce in which online retailers offer various products in their store that they don’t actually have in stock. So if the customer likes an item and wants to buy it from you or orders it, it is not you who ships the item. It is the wholesalers who send the product to your customer. You yourself have no physical contact with the product you offer. Dropshipping therefore offers you a decisive advantage over retail: With this business model, you no longer have the problem of stock and do not have to worry about its completeness. You don’t even have to ship your offered items and still collect the money for them.
2nd idea: Online coaching with online courses.
If you have built up a solid expertise in a certain area, you can start your own business as a coach with online courses. Possible options include webinars, live coaching sessions and digital workshops, for which you don’t need much equipment. An attractive website with a registration form, a lucrative members’ area with valuable content, a camera, some lighting, a microphone and an editing program can already secure your first sales. But the most important thing before you start a webinar business is to think about your niche and what your positioning is. The more specific your expertise is, the more targeted you can make your webinar to your target audience.
What exactly will you do during the online coaching? Even if it may sound simple: Your main task is consulting. There is no magic formula or mysterious code that creates successful and in-demand experts overnight. What distinguishes bad experts from good ones is passion and the will to inspire people. Experts in different industries are more in demand than ever and ensure consistent success by delivering good results.
But how do you deliver good results? What makes experts so successful? It’s simple: as a successful expert, you bring in-depth knowledge of a relevant subject area. You can give concrete instructions that your customers can work with and solve their problems. This is an essential factor for success.
3rd idea: Virtual assistance or freelance work.
You can also offer your skills and experience to paying customers. For example, companies and startups can book you as a virtual assistant. If you have strengths in the administrative field, this type of self-employment can be really lucrative. Alternatively to office work, you can also build an online business with other skills and abilities. If you have special skills in IT, web development, graphic design or copywriting, you can offer your services to private customers or companies on an hourly or project basis. Again, you don’t need anything other than your laptop. This gives you the opportunity to start your online business without any start-up capital.
To become a virtual assistant, you usually don’t need any specific training or to attend a course. Nevertheless, the more skills you demonstrate or acquire, the higher the chance of generating new and recurring orders. The most important prerequisite is already the handling of the PC or laptop and the common office applications. First of all, you should think about what your strengths are, what you are particularly good at and, above all, what you like to do. You can then offer these activities as a service. Often, customers also train you in various activities. In this way, you are paid for learning something new, so to speak, which you can then offer to other customers.
Idea 4: Affiliate Partner
As an affiliate partner of companies you can start your own business if you have a certain reach. Here you work together with sales partners and market their products. The goal is to sell other people’s products and earn a commission. Whether through a blog or social media, certain services or products can be advertised through different channels so that the customer is led to the sales partner’s store via a link.
You haven’t heard of affiliate yet? Surely you already know various affiliate business anyway, even if you didn’t know the name of the business model like that yet. Have you recently visited a product comparison site to find the best price for your new washing machine, your new hiking backpack or the hotel for your next vacation? And then did you follow the link to the best deal? Those are often affiliate links.
5th idea: Influencer
You can also become an affiliate partner, especially as an influencer. If you already have a sizeable community behind you, you and your platform become exciting for many companies as advertising partners. You usually become an influencer through channels like Instagram, YouTube or TikTok. Depending on the industry and niche, you can earn good money as a micro-influencer with just a few thousand followers. Again, you don’t need much at first, except a good camera, an editing program and a certain charisma and enthusiasm in front of the camera.
If you want to make it as an influencer, you should consider some important factors. Therefore, here are the six best tips for your start to be able to become a really successful influencer:
1st tip: Find your niche topic as an influencer.
2nd tip: Determine your basic focus
3rd tip: Develop your content strategy
4th tip: Be active and interact with your followers
5th tip: Build your own business network
6th tip: Regularly review your influencer strategy
But how much money is really possible here? With influencers, there is no flat rate of earnings, because each influencer negotiates their own contracts and decides individually on a cooperation. In general, the earnings from becoming an influencer depend largely on the reach, but the industry also determines the level of payment. As a rule of thumb, influencers earn around eight to ten euros per 1,000 followers for a certain number of published image posts.
That means with 10,000 followers, you can earn up to 100 euros per post. If you publish a video, on the other hand, between 500 and 1,000 euros are possible for 15 seconds and 10,000 followers. The regular customer principle then applies, because if your business partners can increase their sales through the cooperation, they will also work with you in the future and pay higher amounts.
Conclusion: An online business must always develop further
So you see that there are some areas where you can already build an online business without money. The important thing to keep in mind is that your business needs to evolve with emerging trends and requires a lot of attention. As your community, customers, and competitors evolve, you need to be able to react quickly to changes and be ready to break new ground.