All-in-One Guide to Start An Online Business for Dummies (Part 2)

Posted by CiCi Nguyen on

All-in-One Guide to Start An Online Business for Dummies (Part 2)

Previously, you walked through the first 5 steps to start an online business, from identifying products to sell, conducting market research, validating your idea, making a complete business plan to building your brand. In the second part today, we will give you advice on how to run your business legally, resolve deliveries, as well as build and launch your store with an effective marketing strategy.

Step 6. Make Your Business Legal

A great deal of suppliers will not work with you if your business is not legally registered. Plus, you can have some tax headaches later on. Since every business is different, these are fundamental steps in making your business legal.

Decide on A Business Structure

Choosing a structure is the first step before you register your business with the government. Ultimately, you should figure out the appropriate entity for your business goals. Although you can seek advice from a legal advisor, it is vital to learn about available structures. 

  1. A sole proprietorship would suit you if you run a business by yourself and take responsibility for all obligations and debts.  
  2. A business partnership means two or more people are jointly liable as owners. 
  3. If an entrepreneur likes to separate his or her liability from the company’s liability, the corporation will work well. This form is also suitable for new entrepreneurs who plan to seek funding from venture capitalists.
  4. Limited liability company seems to be the most common structure to small businesses as it provides tax benefits of a partnership with the legal protections of a corporation.

Legally Register Your Business

Before you legally run your business, as an owner, you must prepare some documents. To save you time and prevent later issues, we recommend finding a county clerk to ask about required papers and registration fees (if applicable). For future reference, a variety of business licenses you should know are:

  1. Articles of incorporation & operating agreements. While the former goes with corporations, the latter is for some LLCs. These documents include your business purposes, business name, structure, stock details, and other information. 
  2. Doing business as (DBA). If you have neither an operating agreement nor articles of incorporation, think about a business name to register, which could be a fictitious DBA name (if you choose the sole proprietorship).  
  3. Employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Apart from taking business and personal taxes separate, EIN will save the sole proprietorships from trouble if they have to hire employees. 
  4. Income tax obligations. The forms you have to fulfill depends on which structure you choose. Therefore, it is better to visit the state’s website to get specific information.  
  5. Licenses and permits. To operate, some companies will need local, state, and even federal licenses and permits. Plus, like a commercial driver’s license, professional business licenses are a must in some trades. Startup founders need to note down here to check whether your city requires a seller’s permit, with numerous names, for instance, reseller permit, resale permit, state tax ID number, or reseller number. 
  6. Business insurances. Purchasing an insurance policy could be the final step before you officially run your company. The right insurance plan will protect you from incidents such as theft, property damage, or a consumer lawsuit. Some basic ones are workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and general liability insurance.

Step 7. Build Your Online Store

Have everything you need in your hands? Let’s get started by making your business go live. But wait, you need to choose the best eCommerce platform for startups.

miss amara ecommerce store start an online business for dummies
(Source: Miss Amara)

Now, it’s time to nail down the selling part. Here, the rule is to keep your website simple but effective, as you only have five seconds to attract customers’ interest. There are two points that every eCommerce owner should keep in mind.

Produce Copy That Sells

Through your sales copy, you can connect your brand values with ideal consumers. Once you do it right, it will be much easier to persuade them to make a purchase. 

  1. Write a compelling headline that grabs the attention. 
  2. Focus on the product benefits that help consumers solve their problems. This is a great tactic to enhance your credibility.
  3. Win brand trust by adding testimonials that tap the intelligent marketing strategy; social proof.  
  4. Offer e-shoppers an explicit guarantee as it is one of the most critical marketing statements you can make.

Set Up An Appealing and User-Friendly Website

Besides text, visual materials and user experience play a key role in launching a profitable online business. In addition to finding a template that fits your branding, you should: 

  1. Use beautiful and high-quality visuals. Also, place them where they can enhance your crucial message instead of bombarding customers with images. 
  2. Customize fonts and text sizes. 
  3. Make your site navigation simple and straightforward. 
  4. Make your search bar visible and in the same position on every page. 
  5. Embed your branded content and social media accounts.

For more valuable tips to build a successful eCommerce store, please check this article out: 

Top 8 Essential Features of eCommerce Stores to Succeed

Step 8. Decide on Your Shipping Strategy

shipping strategy start an online business for dummies

Next step, you have to figure out how your products reach consumers. It is super essential to map out your shipping strategy before operating your business. Accenture pointed out that 56% of consumers will not shop with a brand due to a poor delivery experience. Here are the vital things every store owner should know: 

  1. Who pays for shipping? Will you offer free shipping or flat rate shipping? Also, do you plan to offer international shipping? 
  2. Shipping rates and methods. This depends on several factors, including package size, package weight, origin and destination countries, carrier, and additional shipping options (trạcking, insurance). Hence, you should consider all options to pick those giving you the best price-to-value ratio.

Fortunately, if you use Shopify and you are based in the US or Canada, you can use the United States Postal Service (USPS). UPS, DHL Express, and Canada post shipping operate right through Shopify and have pre-negotiated rates.

Step 9. Launch Your Store and Market Your Products

Before your online store can generate the first sale, you must drive traffic to your site -that is the goal of digital marketing. Some effective marketing strategies merchants should consider applying are:

Paid Advertising

For brand new sites, paid advertising is the fastest way to get visitors. Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the top two popular platforms for advertisers. Compared to waiting for organic traffic, pay-per-click ads show your brand on SERPs right away and allow you to test out different keywords, prices, headlines, and selling methods as well. Once you establish the high-converting keywords, you should use them in your copy and code throughout the site. As a result, your website can climb on Google rankings quickly, bringing you higher search traffic.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still a powerful tactic in any marketing strategy. Its purpose is to build an email list to nurture potential customers and turn them into paying ones. Once they become your subscribers, it means that:

  1. You are developing long-standing relationships.
  2. Their responses are 100% measurable.
  3. It is a more cost-effective method in comparison to T.V. or radio.

Backend Sales and Upselling

Online merchants should consider the customer’s lifetime value as a critical criterion to assess their business performance. According to WWO, 43% of profits come from repeat customers for average online stores. Thus, it is essential to follow up with consumers to boost sales. In this situation, you can take advantage of back-end selling and upselling techniques.

  1. Offer buyers products that would bring their original items to perfection.
  2. Send loyal customers e-vouchers that are redeemable for their next purchase. 

You might also find Upsell and Cross-sell Techniques: All You Need To Know useful.

Social Media Marketing

Did you know that by January 2021, the total number of social media users worldwide was 3.6 billion people, and this figure is expected to grow? Meanwhile, a study has indicated that more than half of social browsers use social media to research a product or service, and 71% of them are more likely to buy it based on social referrals. So if you see the limitless potential of social networks, here are some suggestions to attract and acquire new customers:

  1. Create relevant and valuable content that addresses customers’ pain points.
  2. Collaborate with social media accounts to broaden your reach. Likewise, influencer partnerships might boost your website’s visibility among search engines. 
  3. Post consistently to get recognized and figure out what type of content works and what does not. For example, you could consider posting behind-the-scenes previews, teasers, or product reviews, giving the audience a sense of anticipation.

Step 10. Evaluate Your Success

Measuring your eCommerce performance lets you know how you run your business and uncovers future opportunities.

marketing metrics start an online business for dummies

Data gives us much information, but you may feel that it is too much to handle all at once. In terms of business, you should first focus on and become familiar with these key performance indicators (KPI): 

  1. Conversion rate
  2. Bounce rate 
  3. Click-through-rate (CTR)
  4. Average order value 
  5. Shopping cart abandonment rate
  6. Customer lifetime value

To see an explanation of these terms and how to calculate these metrics, please visit here

As you will roll out digital marketing, understanding some marketing success factors is a must. Some essential KPIs that e-merchants should know are:

  1. Pay-per-click (PPC) helps you determine if the target keywords are accurate for your store.
  2. Click-through-rate (CTR) is a crucial indicator that shows you if your content is driving engagement or not. 
  3. Subscriber growth rate answers the question ‘Does my content resonate with my audience?’. 
  4. If the email open rate is low, you should try using new subject lines and headlines. Also, find inactive users and remove them from your email list. 
  5. Blog traffic is a helpful metric in checking the quality of your content and finding out whether your blog is the starring driver of site engagement. 
  6. Average position tells you how and where your brand is on SERPs. Most brands desire to rank #1 for relevant keywords.

Presently, you have an idea of what to evaluate, but where and how do you do this? The best way is to take advantage of analytics tools. The most common is Google Analytics which allows you to set up dashboards, customize reports, and see users’ activities in real-time. In addition, eCommerce platforms like Shopify have a built-in informative overview of sales and site performance. To eCommerce stores, collection and search analytics is a must-have feature. Once you know customer demands through search behaviors, you can develop effective strategies to leverage your website. 

Conclusion

Now the topics of finance, shipping, marketing, operations, and everything discussed today are huge to learn. We hope that our guide to starting an online business for dummies helps you build blueprints to begin your eCommerce journey. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube for more handy tips to grow a business online.