This year has been filled with some pretty serious ups and downs. So if you are apprehensive about taking the leap into entrepreneurship, those feelings of anxiety make sense. While approaching the decision to open a new business should be a thoughtful process, you don’t have to let the pandemic sidetrack your goals. Especially since this year could be full of unseen potential for entrepreneurs. In fact, here are four things you can in 2020 to make your dreams of owning a business come true.
You Could Earn Your Business Degree
So maybe you’re not sure if you have the right knowledge and experience to open your own business? If this is the case, you may want to consider completing an online business degree to sharpen your business prowess and gain the skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur. If you already have a bachelor’s, WGU’s online MBA program could be the perfect fit and will help you boost your business knowledge, enhance your management and leadership skills and provide you with the tools needed self-assessment and self-awareness in business. While you can start a new business without a degree, business degrees rank as a top credential for entrepreneurs to have for success. Earning your degree could give your startup a serious edge.
You Could Establish an Online Business
Worried about how you will practice social-distancing and still establish a new business? Well you really shouldn’t be! That’s because starting an online business can be so simple, if you have the right tools at your disposal. The Online Tools Expert blog can provide you with all of the steps and tricks you need to create a successful online business from the comfort of your living room. Whether you need a website builder for your startup or simply need to know how to set up a domain, the Online Tools Expert has you covered. Not to mention that with more people shopping online than ever before, opening an online business could be a very wise decision.
You Could Score Low Rates on a Loan
If you need funding to back your new business idea, now may also be the perfect time to apply for a small business loan. That’s because interest rates on loans are lower than any time in recent history and those rates are likely to stick around for quite some time. So even if you open your business and need additional funding in the coming months, you could end up scoring a killer deal on your loan. If your startup expenses are minimal, you could also take advantage of business credit cards that are offering low interest rates. Many of these cards also offer rewards and other perks to boost your new business. Depending on the type of business you plan on opening, you may also be eligible to apply for business grants to help out with startup costs.
You Could Buy Equipment at Lower Prices
One of the most unfortunate impacts of the COVID-19 impact is that so many small businesses have been forced to close their doors permanently. In fact, up to 41% of businesses that were listed as closed at the beginning of the pandemic have made the heartbreaking decision to shut down for good. While this may give you pause when it comes to starting a new business, you should know that certain types of businesses are actually booming right now. So if your idea for a business is on the list, you could search your town to see if closing businesses are selling off their tech and equipment. Try not to feel guilty about scoring used equipment from these businesses and keep in mind that by purchasing items from them you are indeed helping them.
Opening a new business is never without risk. So don’t let fear keep you from reaching your full potential as an entrepreneur. Times may be uncertain but this could also be the perfect time to earn a business degree, start an online business or find the resources you need to successfully establish a new startup and watch your profits soar.
As the world continues to evolve, the technology and lifestyle of people also evolve. Everything has gone through so many changes as time goes by. Regardless of whether these changes are good or bad, they impact people’s lives. With a growing number of opportunities for everyone in various industries, it’s only right to take this chance to do something worthwhile and beneficial for everyone’s needs.
In these times, many individuals have gotten to learn the ropes of business and entrepreneurship. Owning a business allows an individual the opportunity to take control of what they need to do. And it’s worth noting that owning a business also allows them to share their skills and other knowledge with potential customers in exchange for profit.
With the advent of the digital age and the many advantages of the internet, it seemed to have made everything accessible, convenient, and efficient. Because of its constant presence in people’s lives, it only makes sense that the world of business enters the world wide web. Companies need to be up to date with the trend because it is one way to keep it afloat and profitable. And, thus, the emergence of online businesses.
Why You Should Start an Online Business
Online businesses continue to grow globally and have become so ubiquitous that almost every industry, company, and brand can be found online. And it’s only a matter of time that even small and mid-size enterprises (SME) will make their mark in the world of the internet.
However, while it does look easy to start an online business, there are several factors to consider before starting one. The beginnings of startups will always be a struggle. As mentioned, since the online business industry is growing, there is a lot of competition. It can get overwhelming to see potential competitors also out in the open. It will also be a challenge for any business owner to gain the first, initial, customers, and build a loyal following (later, it becomes easier as you get your word-to-mouth up and running).
Before diving into this endeavor, what do you need to consider and do to start an online business?
Identify Your Niche
When you want to start an online business, you may want to ask yourself what you know, which can help other people? It is easier to start in this endeavor if you can identify your specialization. Identify something related to your skills, talents, or knowledge about a particular industry, platform, product, or even a service. Because if you can identify your niche or something that you are good at, it will become more comfortable for you and even less taxing than starting on something that you have no prior knowledge or experience.
As you identify your niche or specialization, this will help you classify your target audience or market. This way, you will know what their demands are, their spending habits, and other factors that will help your business startup. It is easier to promote and sell first your product or service to customers who are interested in what you can offer.
Creating Your Brand
With your established niche and specialization, it will be easier now to create your brand. Your branding is what will be your business’s identity as you enter the online marketplace. Effective branding will help you gain potential customers as you sell your products or services. It will also set you apart from your competitors.
Decide on a Business Name
One of the first things to do when you create your brand is to decide on a name appropriate for your business. You may want to think of a name that is simple but memorable. Nothing too long or complicated or even overly unique. While you want to stand out among hundreds of other businesses with something unique, you may want to keep in mind that your business name must have a recall and something easy to remember.
Once a name has established, it will be easier to think of the next steps in building your brand. The logo, design, business profile, and even core values are other factors to plan and decide in establishing a reputable brand for your business.
Register a Domain
As the business owner, think of a domain name for your website. As much as possible, align it with your brand or service. Domain names are like the addresses for your website, allowing an individual to gain access. Sites available will let you register your domain name for a fee, though some will offer it free for at least a year. Your domain name must be unique as there are no two domains that are alike.
It’s important to mention, that having an online presence with a registered domain name, is important not only for an online business but to offline, low investment small business, as well.
Choosing and Developing a Business Model
Every business owner should have a business model if they want to start an online business. Think of it as having a blueprint or an outline for whatever plans you have for your entire business. A business model will let you see how the whole company operates. It will also allow you to study on ways how to sell your product or service effectively to your target market. There is also the matter of earning more profit for your online business as there are various ways to do it.
There are several business models out there, but you will need to decide what you think will work best for your business. Here are some examples:
E-commerce – This is one of the most popular online business platforms. Think of it as an online marketplace for various products. Some big names on this platform are Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Alibaba. It is the most direct and straightforward way to connect to your customers.
Dropshipping – A modern eCommerce business model in which you own the storefront site, but not holding any inventory, so, on order completion by the site visitor, the item is sent from the actual item holder, which can be even overboard and far away. This integration can be manual or automatic. For a great way to start a dropshipping site with a WordPress platform, check out our review of the AliDropship dropshipping plugin review.
Affiliate Marketing – This is the usual go-to platform of bloggers that allows them to earn an income online. Through this type of model, a business or company can sell their product or service through a blog or website through a referral link.
Online courses – This usually targets those who are in the educational industry or service. But if your business provides informative content such as webinars or teaching courses, this model will work best for you.
Membership and Subscription sites – This specific business model will let the company charge its customers a recurring fee, whether monthly, annually, etc. It is useful, especially if you want to have long-term contracts with your customers, as this will secure revenue from these recurring purchases.
Freemium model or Software as a Service (SaaS) – This platform is a mixture of free and paid services. It will allow your customers to unlimited access to the basic features of the service and then charge them if they want additional and advanced functions and add-ons.
It is up to you as the business owner what sort of business model you think will suit your online business the best. It will help lay down every aspect that comprises your business, including demographics, marketing, operations, finance, and revenue. You may even want to include some research about your competitors and lay down some strategies to provide better products, services, or alternatives.
The whole planning process may seem intimidating, especially as a beginner; there are various resources available online to help you start, for example, look into this list of online business ideas.
Select Your Web-Hosting Package
You have your name, business model ready in gear. It is time to go on the internet and start your online business. Enter web hosting. Web hosting is a service that allows a user, be it an organization or business owner, to create and post a website on the internet. Various web hosts provide the technology and services that the user will need to create a website.
There are various web hosting packages provided by different web host providers. Your task here is to select among your options that will provide the service you need for your online business while also getting the value for your money. Consider the components and features that every package will offer before taking that dive. Think of it as if you are canvassing for the best one out there.
Many web host packages will offer their lowest prices, so you will need to be extra careful when choosing the right package for you and in general, avoid hosting offerings from EIG companies. You will need to be as thorough as possible to check and identify the features and add-ons your website will need. Also, keep in mind that you might need to invest in other offers that will cost more and ensure excellent performance for your website.
As for a specific hosting solution, for this site with use DreamHost, which we recommend.
Building Your Website with WordPress
WordPress offers one of the easiest ways to create your website. A considerable percentage of sites you will find WordPress powers online. Just like other web hosts, WordPress has features that are designed to be user-friendly and will not require advanced web development and design skills. They have available tools to manage your web content, has customization options and plugins you can use to start building your website.
WordPress is a good starting point for online businesses. While it started as a simple blogging site, it has expanded and developed to cater to more functions that a website will need. It just means that you can create a website for e-commerce sites, online portfolios, membership sites, auction sites, chatrooms, and many others. While the Software is free to use, you will need to pay extra for the hosting since it is self-hosted. Depending on the website’s scale, you may want to check the different hosting plans of WordPress.
Marketing Your Website
Here comes the fun part. To start gaining traction for your business, you will need to market and promote your business through your website. Once your online business is up and running, you will need to find ways to get more than just visitors to your websites. You need customers to earn income for your business.
Now, there are ways to do it. Below are some examples.
Social Media marketing – At this time, almost everyone can be found on any social media platform being glued to their phones. Social media is an effective way to gain an audience and potential customers for your business. All these social media networks will allow you to connect with these customers.
Email marketing – Sending newsletters through email is one way to keep your customers up-to-date with your products or service. With the use of a marketing automation tool, it will help you create content for your customers.
SEO – This is the process of letting your website rank highly in search engines such as Google or Bing. It is essential to optimize your content so that it will rank as one of the top results, and that way, you will gain more traffic for your website. Optimize your content while using specific keywords within your site, persuasive copywriting, and enhancing your website performance.
Paid Advertisement – You will need to have some extra budget to do this kind of promotion for your business. Various platforms will let you promote, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and even YouTube.
Online Directories – Since they cover a wide range of audiences, you may want to submit your URL or website address, and other details to these online directories. They, in turn, will store these details and incorporate this information into their data banks. Once it has registered with them, they can appear in search engines every time an individual searches for a relevant, if not similar, content.
Content Marketing – This is sharing and distributing online content, which can be done through various methods. There are infographics, video content, and even blogging. It will stimulate interest from the audience to a particular product or service.
Affiliate Marketing – it’s a process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make. So, as the name says, you become an affiliate of the seller.
For affiliate networks example, check out our Repixel review, which is an ad network that allows you to earn money by placing retargeting pixels on your website. ShareASale, one of the world’s leading affiliate marketers based in the USA. Fiverr affiliate program, the world’s biggest marketplace for freelancers with over 12 million users in almost 200 countries, or ClickBank, a leading digital affiliate market.
Turn Your Website Visitors into Customers
It is not enough to only attract visitors to your website to check what your product or service can offer to them. You need some sort of call to action to ensure that every visit will be at least give you something in return. Ensure that your website encourages these visitors to purchase your product or service. You may also want to add on some offers or future promos through a newsletter subscription. That way, you are at least guaranteed that they will be back for more. Also, make sure that your contact details are visible so that they can easily reach you.
You may want to add some analytics tools on your website. That way, you can determine and analyze the peak time for your website, how many visitors are coming in, what features your business is attracting interest and whatnot. It will also help you with what needs to be improved.
Every beginning of any endeavor will always be challenging. But, always keep in mind that even the most successful entrepreneur or most significant business has also started from nothing. More than determination and commitment, you will need to do your research and do your best to enhance your skills and knowledge. No one can be successful in just one night. Every step of the way is essential, so enjoy it and, at the same time, learn from it.
Finding it hard to market your business and keep things running smoothly these days? You’re definitely not alone in your struggles. With so many restrictions and concerns still floating around due to COVID-19, businesses everywhere are adapting their marketing and sales strategies. If you need to do the same, these essentials can make the process easier:
1. Financial Resources
While the rest of the tips in this guide will help you keep those expenses to a minimum, it can also help to have a few financial resources in mind. If your business has been affected by the pandemic, you may be able to use grants and other funding sources to make the changes needed to stay afloat.
Although the application process for the ZenBusiness grant is closed for 2020, you may still be able to apply for grants from federal or state resources. Several corporations, including GoFundMe, are also still offering grants and other forms of financial support.
2. Social Media Content
Harnessing the power of social media could be your best bet for keeping yourself in business through this crisis. That’s because now more than ever before, people are relying on social media to stay connected to friends, loved ones, and the community. Folks are also turning to social media to find local and online businesses to support, so you should seriously consider taking advantage of this uptick in traffic. Schedule regular social media posts, but be sure to keep your content empathetic and useful.
A great way to do this is by mixing in a few personal posts with strictly business posts. Promoting digital content from your website is also a great way to use social media. Digital content can include videos, blog posts, and even podcasts! Don’t have a podcast yet? Online Tools Expert offers a great step-by-step guide if you’re ready to take the leap.
3. User-Friendly Websites
If you don’t have a website to link to your social media accounts, you could be missing out on a huge revenue stream for your business. Having a website helps consumers learn more about your business and also helps establish trust with those consumers. You can also save yourself some time, and perhaps even save a few customers, by listing basic business information on your website.
Information to cover can include your business hours, location, and any COVID-related changes to your operations. If you don’t already have a website, you can use a free website builder to get one started for your business. Aside from being affordable, these tools make it easy to establish your domain and set up a user-friendly site that will attract more customers. Also, look out for SEO tools to ensure your website reaches even more people.
4. COVID-Safe Practices
Expanding your online options is an effective way to keep your business open during the crisis, but at some point, you may be ready to reopen your actual store. When that day comes, be prepared with the latest guidelines and recommendations that will protect your staff, your customers, and you, and it can also protect the future of your business.
Consumers will feel safer in your business if they know that you are taking the proper precautions, like requiring masks and practicing social distancing. Be sure to advertise these policies on your website and social media accounts, so that customers don’t get caught off-guard by the new rules. You should also post requirements around your store. You can use these free templates to print new signage.
If you want to stay in business over the coming months, it’s important to narrow your focus on how to better connect with your customers. Expanding your online presence can boost your sales while your doors are closed, but these marketing strategies can continue to benefit your business even if you are allowed to reopen. So, combine online marketing with safe practices, and you should be able to sustain some profits and your business.
In just a few years, eCommerce has grown in leaps and bounds, so that transactions—in just about every industry, at that—are now mostly done online. This isn’t surprising at all, considering the ease and convenience that the internet offers its users. So as consumers become more and more dependent on the internet, it’s only natural for businesses, big and small alike, to follow suit—including yours.
Now, there is in fact, a good number of web-based adaptations that your business can benefit from. However, if you’re new in the digital arena, it can be easy to feel out of your depth. For this reason, it’s only smart to make use of the resources you can easily find and access online to start and sustain a lucrative business in the digital age. Let’s take a closer look at what’s out there and how you stand to benefit.
The apps that make your life easier
It’s a well-known fact that, in this day and age, there’s a tool, app, or software for just about any activity that anyone can conceive of. This definitely makes life a lot easier in more ways than one, especially when you run a small business that involves multiple tasks that need to be done timely and efficiently for your enterprise to remain competitive and profitable.
Needless to say, it’s more than wise to download—and in some cases, invest—in these tools where your business needs them most. This is the best way to keep your tasks and processes flowing as they should—or better yet, free up your time and energy, so you can focus on more important things. So make sure to keep an eye out for apps that allow you to automate, collaborate, stay productive, etc. as these are almost always worth your while.
Of course, there are also tools that you simply can’t do away with. As more and more business is done online at present, more and more threats arise along with them. It’s a must, therefore, to have cybersecurity measures in place to protect your and your customers’ sensitive data. Thankfully, the options for digital security are rising to the challenge of fighting these threats, so you’re sure to find solutions for your devices, website, and other systems.
The freelancers who help you get things done
Again, it can be all-too-easy to feel out of your element when you’re not used to using technology in certain ways. For instance, as you take your business to the next level, no doubt, among the most important web-based projects you’ll need is a solid online presence. Now, while you can, of course, find out how to start a blog or website easily enough, your business model will invariably demand something more professional or intuitive, which can be well out of a beginner’s skill set. It’s a good idea, therefore, to enlist an expert freelancer to get it done, which is easy enough to do with online job boards. This also applies to other tasks that you neither have the time or skill to do, as well, which can be truly invaluable help as you run your business.
Of course, it’s only prudent not to entrust sensitive tasks or information to just anyone, so a background check can be a necessary evil before you hire a freelancer or employee. However, know that there are actually FCRA rules that you need to be mindful of before you do so, so make sure to do your due diligence before you do an employee background check to keep everything above board. For one thing, many states don’t sanction criminal background checks until after you’ve made a conditional job offer. For another, some states also require you not to consider arrests without a conviction, plus there’s a seven-year limit on the information you’re allowed to gather.
Suffice it to say, taking your business to the next level means embracing tech, warts—that is, threats—and all. Thankfully, it’s tech that will also provide you with the means to get it all done, as well. It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur, indeed, so ride this wave of innovation to take your business to the next chapter.
Becoming your own boss can be a dream come true, but it can also be a little terrifying. That fear can hold would-be entrepreneurs back from ever starting a new online business, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Especially when you have this guide to getting started with minimal risk.
Potential Businesses for First-Time Entrepreneurs
Finding the right business opportunity can provide the confidence boost novice entrepreneurs need and these gigs could be a perfect fit.
What could be better than hanging out with pups for your very first small business? Plus, you can get started sitting after you have taken the proper steps to secure your home against those furry invaders. Be sure to lock up any cabinets, secure all garbage cans, and remove any hazardous items that could choke dogs or puppies. Being aware of houseplants that can be dangerous for dogs is also important, so be sure to remove these toxic plants from your home or at least keep them well out of reach of curious paws and noses.
Are you great at building websites for people? Chances are you can find freelance web design work through sites like Upwork or Fiverr. They make it easy to get started as a website designer, writer, or any other professional service that is in demand by other entrepreneurs and small businesses. You can create a profile and start pitching to potential clients in a matter of minutes, which makes freelancing easy for folks who are looking for a side gig. It’s also pretty easy to start with one, for example, on how to start on Fiverr.
If you want to open an e-commerce shop but aren’t sure what to stock, then dropshipping could be a perfect first-time business venture. Unlike other inventory-based small businesses, a dropshipping business with AliDropship does not require you to store any of the products you sell. Simply create your website, list your products, and take care of customers — your dropshipping service will take care of everything else. Now the tricky part of operating a dropshipping business is keeping up with product trends but with a little online research, you can make it less of a challenge. If you need more help with starting with dropshipping, check out our AliDropship review.
Set-Up Steps for New Small Businesses
Once you know what sort of small business you would like to try out, you can start getting your idea up and running. These crucial steps will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Write a Business Plan
Staying organized is important in ensuring success with any new business. So, even if you don’t plan on looking for investors, writing a business plan can provide a framework for setting up and running your new business. You can find business plan templates and guides online to help you get started, but be sure to leave some flexibility so you can make changes in the future.
Set Up a Home Office Space
Plan on working from home? You should avoid working from your couch if you want to be productive. Instead, build a home office space where you can focus and help your new business thrive. All you need is a small corner or a closet and you can create the home office of your dreams. Also, be sure to pick up some organizing tools, a desk, and a supportive office chair.
Set Aside Savings to Pay Taxes
If you have always worked for a company or organization, then you are used to having your state and federal taxes automatically deducted from your paycheck. When you own a small business, those taxes are not taken out automatically anymore, so it’s up to you to ensure that you have paid enough each year. The IRS allows self-employed taxpayers to prepay taxes, which tends to work best for first-time business owners, but you can also take it upon yourself to save up and pay before the annual tax deadline. You can even use apps to boost your savings.
Taking on your first business can feel like taking a huge risk. By using the tips above to just get your feet a bit wet, you can feel more secure about trying your hand at entrepreneurship.
Are you gearing up for a new eCommerce business? Or maybe your current online shop has just experienced an embarrassing inventory blunder?
Either way, knowing how to resolve common inventory mistakes, and more importantly how to prevent them from occurring, can protect your small business from losing out on profits, inventory costs, and even customer relationships. So if you need help with your inventory, here are a few pointers you should keep in mind.
Inventory Apps to Avoid Inventory Mistakes
Mistakes will happen from time to time, but using inventory management apps to prevent issues from constantly impacting your small business is always a smart move. For instance, Sortly and SOS Inventory are apps that provide multiple features and tools that can streamline your inventory processes and eliminate many inventory mishaps in the first place.
These apps do require a paid subscription, however, so if you are on a really tight budget, you may want to consider using a free inventory app, such as Goods Order Inventory or Stock Control. While these apps are perfect for managing inventory from your iPhone or Android, you may also want to look into inventory management software, to further protect your small business from the high costs of potential inventory issues.
Preventing some of the most common inventory issues, including data entry mistakes and mis-shipped items, can be simple with the right inventory management tools and apps.
If you want to ensure that future inventory mistakes don’t end up costing your small business, you should also educate yourself around inventory management best practices. Being more familiar with inventory management terms and techniques, such as ABC analysis, safety stock inventory, and dropshipping can better prepare you to work with software companies and inventory experts, to design inventory management processes that work for your business.
For example, if you choose a dropshipping model, with a WordPress site and a dropshipping-enabling plugin like AliDropship, working with a dependable dropshipping supplier can eliminate the risk for customer-facing order mistakes and expensive inventory issues.
FTC Regulations for Order Mistakes
When you send the wrong item to a customer, you may think that the recipient is legally required to send that mis-shipped item back. Per FTC laws, however, consumers are never required to send these items back to a business, and attempting to charge those recipients for your inventory mistakes could result in costly fines for your small business.
This is just one more reason to use the tools and tips above to streamline your inventory operations and prevent order mishaps so that you can protect your business from potential losses.
Of course, you can request that your customers return unordered merchandise as long as you pay for shipping, so look for ways to lower your shipping costs, so that your small business is not severely impacted by these inventory mistakes and added shipping expenses.
Excellent Customer Service Standards
Even when using the safeguards mentioned above to enhance your inventory management processes, order and inventory mistakes can still happen. When those mistakes affect customers, it can be bad for your business, but if those customers already trust you, they will be more likely to forgive occasional mistakes.
With a commitment to excellent customer service, you can build that trust and satisfaction that will encourage more positive responses to order mishaps, so this should be a primary focus as you improve your business processes. This means being available to answer customer communications and offering clear return policies on your website. You also need to be fully prepared to take on tough customer service issues, if you want to preserve connections and your reputation.
Inventory mistakes do happen, but they don’t have to cost your business a fortune. With the right inventory tools and policies in place, you can quickly resolve inventory mishaps and prevent small mistakes from becoming even bigger issues for your small business. So dedicate some time to implementing these techniques and tools into your inventory management plan, and also make sure your customer service is strong enough to protect your business.