The Ultimate Checklist To Starting an Online Business
Last Updated on August 24, 2021 by Joanna Isac
Starting an online business is an exciting endeavor, but starting one the right way can also be daunting. This checklist provides all of the steps you need to take before starting an online business and tips on making your business successful.
This post is designed for those looking to start their own online business, but even experienced business owners can gain insight from this list of helpful tips!
- Research Your Idea
- Determine Your Target Audience
- Create a Business Plan
- Find a Company Name
- Register a Business Entity
- Register a Trademark
- Set Up Your Bank Account
- Register a Domain
- Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
- Design a Logo
- Build Your Website
- Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate
- Enable Plugins and Widgets
- Set up Business Email Accounts
- Add Content to Your Website
- Create a Google Analytics Account
- Use Google Ads To Get More Website Traffic
- Set up Social Media Accounts
- Setup Email Marketing
- Wrapping Up
Research Your Idea
Starting an online business might seem like an easy project, but it often takes more research than you might expect.
To be well prepared when starting your online business you should:
- Research the market for your product or service to see if there’s a demand.
- Find out how much competition exists in this space.
- Do some preliminary financial planning so you can figure out how much starting capital you need.
Determine Your Target Audience
It is essential to define your target audience and understand who they are before starting an online business. This will help you design your website, products, or services in a way that is appealing to your audience.
Create a Business Plan
A business plan is a document that details the steps you will take in starting and running your company. It can include short and mid-term goals you hope to achieve and how much money it will take to do so. A well-crafted and compelling business plan can help you get the necessary funds to start your business or find strategic partnerships.
Find a Company Name
The company name is often the first impression you give a potential customer. Your brand name can resonate with potential clients or give them second thoughts about doing business with you.
When choosing your company name, think of what you want your business to stand for? Take time out now to start brainstorming some company names that will set up an excellent foundation!
Register a Business Entity
Before starting an online business, it’s essential to figure out which legal structure is best for you. Different types of businesses have different tax burdens and benefits associated with them, so research your options carefully before deciding on one.
In the U.S., registering a business entity is usually done at the state level.
Register a Trademark
Once you’ve come up with a good name, it is important to register your trademark for that business or product(s) to prevent other companies from using the same name. In the United States, this can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Set Up Your Bank Account
You’ll want to set up a business bank account before starting your online business so that you can keep business-related expenses/income separate from your personal ones. Your business bank account will also be used for tax purposes.
Register a Domain
Choose a website name with an easy-to-remember URL. In most cases, your website name will be the same as the company name. Once you have found the right website name, register your domain. You can register your domain for a minimum of one (1) year.
Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
Choose a web hosting provider that offers reliable services and 24/7 customer support. Depending on your needs, you may also want to check if the hosting provider offers full server management, email services, and backup protection.
Design a Logo
A logo is a vital part of your website and branding strategy. Your logo will help you distinguish your business itself from other businesses in the same industry.
Make sure to find a design that is visually appealing and reflects your company’s identity. If you need assistance in designing a logo, you can hire a freelancer from Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.
Build Your Website
Once you have your domain name and hosting account, it’s high time to start developing your website. Create a clean and mobile-friendly design for your website that is easy to navigate.
Select the type of website that best suits your business needs – whether eCommerce or a CMS site, like WordPress.
Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate
Website security is critical when starting an online business. The first step you should take towards securing your website is to get an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.
When installed on a server, the SSL certificate will activate an HTTPS protocol and encrypt information between the server and a user’s browser. The SSL certificate
ensures that your website users can safely submit their information without the risk of being hacked or have personal data stolen.
All major browsers will now flag your website as “Not Secured” if you don’t have an SSL certificate set up.
Enable Plugins and Widgets
Add Relevant Plugins and Widgets to Your Website such as SEO tools, social media sharing widgets, Google Analytics, GDPR consent tool, live chat, etc. These plugins and widgets will help you provide a better user experience to your website visitors.
Set up Business Email Accounts
These will be email addresses that your customers, potential clients, and partners can use when reaching out for support or other inquiries about your company.
Your business email should reflect a professional image, so make sure you choose something memorable like ‘support@yourcompanyname’ or ‘department@yourcompanyname’ or YourName@yourcompanyname’.
Add Content to Your Website
Once you have a website up and running, you need to add some content relevant to what you are offering. Such content might include service or product descriptions, images, videos, text articles, blog posts.
Relevant content will help your website visitors learn more about your company and help with SEO rankings because search engines will index your content when they crawl your site for updates.
Create a Google Analytics Account
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you track traffic on your website and provides valuable insights into what people are doing on your site. You can learn which are your most popular web pages, which pages have low traffic, how users get to your website, and more.
Use Google Ads to Get More Website Traffic
Google Ads can help get more traffic to your website. This is especially important when you are just getting started with your online business.
With the right keywords in your ad copy, you can get in front of potential customers. You can also use retargeting to stay top of mind for those users that visited your website but didn’t make a purchase/decision right away.
Set up Social Media Accounts for Your Online Business
Social media has become an essential part of starting and running any type of online business. Set up accounts on the major networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to follow and engage with your target audience.
Choose accounts on those social networks where you can best engage with potential customers.
Setup Email Marketing
Set up email marketing software like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or ActiveCampaign, to send regular newsletters to subscribers who want updates from you via email rather than social media channels.
Once everything has been set up according to our checklist, go ahead and get those sales rolling in by following marketing strategies and data-driven insights from experts in the field.
P.S. If you need some inspiration for your business, check out Best Online Business Ideas for 2021-2022.