Want to start an online business? Here’s your to-do list

Dream of starting an online business but don’t know where to begin? Here’s a quick to-do list for you. 

We’re big fans of to-do lists. They help you to focus your time and energy on activities that will help you get closer to your goals  – and ensure you feel satisfied at the end of your working day.

So we’re very happy to share this to-do list for starting an online business from Liat Karpel Gurwicz, Head of Strategic Marketing at Wix.com. 

Here’s your to-do list for starting an online business

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do and think about when starting an online business. So here are eight things that you need to focus on to get your business off the ground.

1) Write a business plan

Before launching your venture, research your sector thoroughly and investigate what your potential competitors are doing – and get it all into your business plan. It’s important to identify what sets you apart from other businesses in your industry, clearly identifying your USPs and your target audience.

2) Set up your online shop

Once your business plan is ready, it’s time to choose the platform where you will be promoting or selling your products or services.

While there are many benefits of selling via marketplaces, I would recommend integrating the functionality of an ecommerce platform in your website. This way you can generate more than one source of revenue.

Even if you have little to no budget, creating a website can be simple and you can do it yourself using a web publishing platform. Many web publishing platforms today have a range of professional and customisable website templates for you to choose from to fit your business needs. (Read six things you need to think about when when setting up an e-commerce website.)

3) Craft your copy and SEO

Your website acts as a shop window to your online store. And just like a physical shop, it needs to look appealing to attract potential customers. So spend time on writing good copy and carefully choose photos to showcase your products or services.

Just having a website isn’t enough though – getting your site to rank prominently on search engine results is one of the most valuable ways to increase your traffic.

So make sure that you incorporate key keywords and search engine optimisation (SEO) when you create your site and check your progress. Updating your website’s content is essential to boost your site’s SEO, so be sure to add new content regularly.

4) Choose your website features

Your website can’t just look great – you need to ensure it has all the features you need to run your business.

For example, if you’re in the service industry, you might want to include booking tools. Or, if customer service is important to you, you may decide to add a tool to chat with your clients in real time.

If you organise events regularly you may consider adding the Eventbrite app to your site. And, if you sell online, you can offer your customers more than one method of payment by including apps such as PayPal or Yandex.

With an increasing number of users accessing websites through phones and tablets, it’s important to ensure that your website is built to work on any screen. So when your website is created, make sure it’s fully responsive.

5) Write a marketing plan

A marketing plan is crucial to start your online business. A good marketing plan helps your customers understand why your product or service is better than other options, and gives you a strategy to follow to spread the word about what you do. (Read the five questions every marketing plan must answer.)

6) Start a content marketing plan

Sharing great content is also a powerful way to reach potential new customers. So as well as a marketing plan, it’s a good idea to start a content marketing plan too. (Read an easy four-step formula for creating a content marketing plan.)

7) Get on social media

Few businesses today can afford to ignore social media. So think about which social media channels would be the best fit for your business – and get on them!

If you’re selling an aesthetically appealing product, then Instagram and Facebook are a good choice. Alternatively, if you’re offering services to other businesses, LinkedIn is a good platform to explore.

And, while customers will have different expectations when interacting with businesses on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, your brand messaging and tone should always be recognisable and consistent.

8) Use email marketing

Another effective way of reaching people is through email marketing, such as newsletters.

When putting together newsletters, try to put yourself in your email receiver’s shoes and think about the type of content they would be interested in receiving.

Aim for the content to be relatable and fresh, and be about new products, offers or just insights in your specific industry. (Read 14 things your newsletters need to include.)

Ready to start your online business?

If you feel inspired to start your own online business then don’t wait to take the first step. If you wait until you ‘feel’ ready, or are confident you have the right amount of experience then you’ll never start!

The best way to get a business off the ground is just to get going, and trust that you will learn what you need to along the way. Yes, you’ll make mistakes but that’s all part of learning – and is often the only way you genuinely gain the experience you need to be a successful entrepreneur.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on your to-do list today!

Need more inspiration? Read how we built a website and a brand in a morning – for less than £80!

Liat Karpel Gurwicz is Head of Strategic Marketing at Wix.com