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Start your online business in four simple steps

     So, you’re looking to start your first online business but are worried it will be too complicated. Well, have no fear! We’re here to explain the simple steps to get your online business up and running.

Step 1: Identify an unmet need.

     Remember “supply and demand” from economics class? Well, before you introduce a new product or service, you want to make sure there is demand for it, i.e., that it is something people would want to buy. Identify your target audience, the people who might be interested in your product, and make arrangements for a group of these people to test it out.

Step 2: Determine your sales process.

     This is your approach to selling your product or service. For instance, you might need to sort out things like:

     • Your sales pitch to tell users how your product can benefit them

     • How you will advertise your business

     • Your brand name and logo

     • Sales policies, guarantee, etc.

Step 3: Prepare you online presence.

     These days, even novice users can set up an online presence quickly and easily, thanks to the multitude of website-making tools available. This step involves:

     • Finding a web host and reserving your domain name — Do a little research before choosing a domain name to determine what keyword you want to target.

     • Designing your website — If you want to do this on your own, you might use a template from a site like www.templatemonster.com, or build a WordPress site.

     • Setting up your shopping cart — i.e., your online store. OpenCart is a great open source (free) shopping cart solution.

     • Setting up your payment gateway — This is how you will accept payments from customers online. Depending on the scope of your business, you might set up your own merchant account or use a third-party payment processor like PayPal or Square.

Step 4: Get your business recognized by search engines with SEO.

     Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find your business online. While most people think of SEO as using the right keywords on your website, it also includes activities such as blogging and posting on social media. SEO involves:

     • Integrating relevant keywords to your website pages and content.

     • Going on blogs and forums for similar products and giving your professional opinion — this helps build your online reputation.

     • Writing blog posts on topics your potential customers will find interesting.

     SEO might sound like a lot of work, but even posting two blog posts a month will be useful in getting your online business recognized by search engines.

     For more in-depth information on some of these steps, check out our recent blog post on the different types of web hosting and another post on SEO basics.