You want to start an online business. You’ve got a killer idea and you’re excited to get out there and present it to the world. But it’s also a daunting task. Setting up a business is complex and laborious. There’s a lot that needs to be gotten right. Where do you even start?
Wirebox went from being the dream of two software developers to a thriving web development agency providing digital solutions to market leading companies and working with numerous agencies and IT firms. The process of going from goal to reality requires building the necessary structures to grow your online presence and adapt to changing demands. Here is a guide to the basics of creating a firm foundation for your online startup.
An Idea for your Business
You need to start with an idea. You may already have a general sense of what you want your business to be about, but it needs to be fully fleshed out and put in terms of realistic, measurable goals. Make a plan of what equipment your business needs, how many people it will employ, who your target market is and how to reach out to them. You also need to cost your business and work out how to finance it.
There are several types of online business, from online store to online magazine to web design. Look for web-companies similar to yours and what they do to attract business. How is your startup idea different and how would this affect your business model? Getting an idea of the market in which you’re operating is vital, and will also come in handy when networking.
Building the Website
The next thing you need is a website. Unless you want to build your own website from scratch and run it on your own server, you’ll need a webhost, such as Rackspace or DigitalOcean. You’ll also need to register a domain name for your business.
Next you need to design your website, which can be facilitated using pre-built themes compatible with popular CMS software such as WordPress or Drupal, to create a website that is easy to use and navigate. You’ll then be ready to put up content that is pertinent to the needs of your target audience, who you want to use the website.
Meeting the Legal Requirements of your Business
Your business is a legal entity, and as such needs to meet the requirements of the law. There are 4 main laws, acts and directives concerning online businesses:
Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 requires you to clearly display pertinent information and have a degree of corporate transparency.
Data Protection Act 1998 concerns how you handle personal data from your customers and register with the ICO.
Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 regulates contracts between traders and consumers, and applies to online transactions as well as offline. It enforces the right to cancellation of orders and the right to refund under certain conditions, among other things.
ICO Cookie Law Requires you to inform people if you have set cookies in your site, what the cookies do and why.
For more information, check out the government webpage on this issue.
Branding is the way you associate your business with the products and services you provide. Building your brand means that you get more customers who are interested in the services that you provide. You can use social media platforms to produce media and written content that includes your brand, be it a logo, a jingle or a slogan. You can also use email, videos and podcasts to draw more people in through unique, high quality content.
This social media branding will motivate people interested in you to share that content, building leads as well as a fanbase that will be willing to provide feedback about your products and keep coming back to your site.
So in conclusion: flesh out your web-company idea, build a website, know the laws surrounding online business and use social media and outreach to build your brand. Now you’re ready to set out on your journey to create your own online business.