While some may tell you that starting an online store is rather simple, we’re here to offer actionable advice on how to start your online business on the right foot. We’ll let you know some trade secrets that will help you install a solid base for empire building.

Find Your Niche

While it’s always best to work in a niche you’re passionate about, not every entrepreneur knows what they want to sell and to whom. You shouldn’t despair if you don’t have a clue what type of online business you want to start.

According to this article, the selection of a product or niche is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. With the right questions and a bit of brainstorming, the right idea (or ideas) will come sooner than you think.

Here are some of the questions that should put you on the right path:

  • Are you looking to attract only local audiences or do you want to go national/global?
  • What’s the main thing people complain about when it comes to services or products in your area?
  • Which commercial niche presents interest to you? (it’s always best to select a niche you know)
  • Can you improve upon the niche you select?
  • Is the niche popular on Google? (are people interested in searching products or services?)

These questions will help you get a rough idea of your skills and the possibility to be successful.

Research, Research, Research

We can’t stress this enough! The research will provide the knowledge needed to understand the product/service and its audience.

You should start with online stores that sell a similar product or service, and reverse-engineer their marketing strategies. Also, learn from other successful online entrepreneurs who managed to replicate their initial success in other online businesses.

Next, learn about the market surrounding your chosen product/service and understand how the people who buy/use it think. Also, get in touch with the audience (using message boards, forums, blogs, and other tools) and ask for their opinion and feedback.

Producer or Reseller?

As a reseller, you work with a product (or products) that’s already been tested. Choose the right type of products, those that people are familiar with. Customers will sometimes buy based on the product’s reputation (which will help your site).

As a producer, you’ll also have to factor in production and storage costs. Not to mention, your marketing strategies have to be more extensive. However, if the product is well-received, the benefits are trifold towards the ones you get as a reseller.

So, before you start an online business, first understand the risks, costs, and rewards of each of these roles.

Define a Brand Persona

With the outline in mind, you can now move towards the next step, which is creating the e-commerce store.

The first step is to establish your brand’s persona (or personality). This is how customers will perceive the brand and it must be unique and strong, so it sticks with anyone who gets in contact.

For instance, Tesla is a brand well-known all over the world as being a bold rule-breaker and a pioneer in the field of engineering. Furthermore, they are often associated with Nikola Tesla, the famous kind-hearted inventor with a brilliant mind and a wonderful personality.

On the other side, Amazon is known to be the giant online retailer that’s easily available and accessible to anyone all over the world.

One interesting fact is that both businesses (Amazon and Tesla) were started from scratch by passionate people, who knew how to implement their vision of the future. And these are the kind of people from whom an online entrepreneur would have a lot to learn!

Bring Your Brand to Reality

Up until now, all the concepts we discussed border on the abstract. You have an idea and a brand persona, so it’s time to take steps towards more concrete elements such as a brand name and logo. Both should fit the brand persona and resonate with the target audience.

For example, Ollie is the brand of an online store selling dog food, but it’s also a commonly used dog name. As a result, it will resonate with dog owners and they will easily understand what the store is selling.

Store Setup

Armed with a name and logo, you’ve finally reached that step where your store can come to life using a domain name and suffix (.com, .net, .info, and so on). You’ll also need to invest in good hosting, select an e-commerce platform that fits your needs,  and hire a professional to build the e-commerce site of your dreams.

Furthermore, once the site is up and running, you will also have to invest in SEO and online marketing strategies to tell the target audience about your new and exciting product. While it may sound a bit worrisome, the investments you’re making, in the beginning, are of paramount importance to the well-being of your online business in the future, so try to avoid skimping on quality.

Authored by:

Stewart Dunlop is a full-time content marketer at Foundr and part-time reader, gamer & footballer in his free time. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on business, entrepreneurship, and marketing.