Every business needs a strong customer base and an established network of partnerships. In the past, you would rely on conventional advertising media to introduce your brand and achieve the aforementioned. Large financial resource should be involved along with a considerable number of employees to handle marketing and customer services. Thanks to the Internet, you can start a whole new business with only little money and little-to-none human resources. Online business is booming, and here is how you can start one.
1. Find a demand and fulfill it
Regardless of the business fields, the rule of thumb is that you need to provide something previously unavailable. It does not mean you have to invent a new product or groundbreaking service (it would be great if you do), but you can start by simply improving an existing commodity whether in quality or features. You can utilize the Internet to find such demand in online forums, social media, news websites, or blogs. Many startups fail because they look for products before they know there is a market for those. You can increase chance of success by finding a demand for a particular product/service, and come up with solutions to fill that demand.
2. Choose a business model
There are 3 basic online business models including:
- E-Commerce: you sell goods to consumers through online portals. It is almost like typical brick & mortar stores, but all transactions and communications with buyers happen via Internet. You can act as drop-shipper, wholesaler, or sell your own products.
- Advertising: in this model, you are the marketing agency for other companies. Your website is your business platform to advertise certain products. As more people visit the website, chances are you get more commissions.
- Subscription: you use a website to offer limited free service. Users who pay subscription fee get more features.
Each model comes with its own variations as well.
3. Build a Website
Regardless of the business model you choose, you will need a professionally-designed website to strengthen your online presence and build credibility. This website is an online version of your office where people can interact with the company. You need to list contact information, physical address (if there is any), and other relevant information. It takes time and money to make your website popular. You want the website optimized for search engines, so people can find it easily. You need to fill it with good contents in accordance to guidance by search engines as well.
A combination of e-commerce and drop-shipper may require no money at all because you can use ready-made platform free of charge (such as Etsy or eBay). Being drop-shipper means you don’t actually own the goods, but you only fulfill buyers’ orders upon request. You buy the product from another seller and make money from the price difference.
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