Entrepreneurs have more resources at their disposal than ever before. From loan and funding opportunities to a wealth of information and education (much of it free!), learning how to start an online business isn’t a mystery. That said, creating a business online still isn’t easy: It will take patience, perseverance, and preparation.
Before you even start the first steps for starting an online business, consider creating a “Starting a Online Business” checklist as step zero. This is the step that many prospective business owners forget! The excitement of rushing into an online business setup can be so high that details get left behind, and important processes get overlooked.
Carefully follow this checklist to become an expert on how to start an online business.
Step 1: Identify Your Niche
Every business needs to find a gap in the marketplace. What will your online business provide that consumers don’t already have access to? Or what will you do better than anyone else?
Step 2: Develop Your Business Plan
Take time when writing your business plan. You’ll need to outline your leadership team, pricing structure, competition, goals and vision, and more.
Step 3: Perfect Your Product or Service
What are you selling, and how will you get it into customers’ hands? If you only offer digital services, selling is much simpler — you don’t need to worry about shipping, warehousing, or any other service associated with physical products.
If you sell tangible goods, decide whether to sell products in a retail space, operate as a wholesaler, or work as a drop shipper who buys inventory as needed to fulfill orders.
Step 4: Select Your Business Structure
Make your business a sole proprietorship if you want total control. Just be aware that your personal assets will be tied to the business.
Alternatively, a partnership structure allows you to co-own a business, spreading liability among two or more business partners. A limited partnership (LP) features one partner with unlimited liability and one (or more) partner with limited liability, and a limited liability partnership (LLP) offers limited liability to all owners.
A limited liability company (LLC) provides the benefits of both sole proprietorships and partnerships because it keeps personal property separate from company property. Which partnership is right for you? You may need to talk to a business lawyer to decide!
Step 5: Obtain Licenses and Permits
The federal government regulates healthcare products, alcoholic beverages, CBD oil, supplements, and many other products. To make sure you can sell your products, you’ll need to identify which department oversees the kind of goods you want to produce or market.
You will most likely need a sales tax permit from the state your business operates from and a business license from the local government. Then, register your business with the IRS and get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so that you can pay your taxes.
Step 6: Choose Your Online Platform
You might sell through an existing marketplace like Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. The downside is that your products could be lost in a sea of competing offerings. These platforms also take a percentage of your profits, but they do offer a fast and simple setup.
Step 7: Find Partners
You’ll need to source partners for supplies and raw materials or find a manufacturing partner. Then, set up distribution channels if you plan to have your products in retail spaces, and secure fulfillment partners to get products into customers’ hands directly.
By partnering with a fulfillment company like Print Bind Ship, all these steps can be handled at once. We take care of assembly, packaging, warehousing, shipping, and returns so you don’t have to.
Step 8: Set Up Your Website
If you decide to sell your products on your website, you will have to pay more up front to build, design, and set up the site vs. selling on an existing e-commerce storefront, but you will retain control and keep 100% of your profits.
You can use templates or hire a professional designer to create a website. Make sure your website can accept payments securely; this can be handled through PayPal and other payment processing companies.
Step 9: Promote Your New Online Business
You need to use proper search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to appear high in search results.
Blogs, podcasts, and videos offer customers content that shows you are a trusted resource and increase sales. Setting up a newsletter on your website also allows you to get email addresses. You can then use this information for email marketing purposes.
Social media is an excellent way of staying connected to consumers and humanizing your business. You can also buy ads on social media and target them to relevant users.
Step 10: Monitor Your Online Business’s Growth
Data and analytics are key to staying competitive. Monitor sales and customer interactions so you can correct your course if necessary. Don’t be afraid to adjust your business plan or marketing strategies to stay relevant and boost your position!
Partnering with Print Bind Ship
To get a leg up on the competition, you can trust manufacturing, storage, packaging, and order fulfillment to Print Bind Ship. We also offer tools that connect your online storefront and payment platform so you can get orders out the door to customers anywhere in the world.
No matter what kind of online business you run — from supplements to books to apparel — Print Bind Ship can partner with you.
Selling Online Is a Breeze with Print Bind Ship
Learning how to start an online business isn’t difficult — but actually starting an online business is a different story! Unless you partner with Print Bind Ship, that is. With Print Bind Ship, you don’t have to worry about manufacturing facilities, shipping orders, kitting or packaging, or even handling returns. That’s all on our shoulders! Get your online business rolling by contacting Print Bind Ship today!
Consider selling popular items with a large profit margin, such as clothing, supplements, and self-published books.
Your “Starting an Online Business” checklist should include a thoroughly developed business plan, licensing and permitting, an online storefront or website, and products to sell.
You will need a video conferencing tool such as Zoom and a calendar scheduling app that integrates with your website. You must also determine your niche and marketing strategy.