In the digital era, online businesses have become part of everyday life. As we move to an increasingly mobile and digitally-minded society, it’s no wonder thousands of new online businesses are set up in the UK every year.
In fact, with the craziness of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic a whopping 85,000 online businesses launched in the UK during lockdown. But will these businesses all succeed? Probably not. But we’re here to help you be one of the success stories. In this guide we’ll look at how to come up with an online business idea and what to do next.
How to come up with ideas
The benefit of many online businesses is that you can set them up relatively quickly with minimal cost, when compared to a business with a physical presence. However, whatever your online business is, you need a strong business idea to start with.
It would be great if we could just give you a list of online businesses that you could start today and off you go. But that would be massively underestimating the value and importance of passion, interest and enthusiasm needed to start a business.
Our top tips for coming up with an online business idea are:
Lead with passion
Think about online businesses that you would use (or already have) that excite you. If you love your business, it’s more likely that others will too.
Offer something new
Are there online businesses with gaps in their products/services or not offering what you want? If so, make a list of what you would like to see offered.
Build on what you know
Consider your professional and personal experience, knowledge and skill set. Choose a business idea that can use that experience to your advantage.
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Getting started with your online business
Once you have a strong business idea, it’s time to officially register your business. The two most common options in the UK are setting up as a sole trader or starting a limited company. There’s no one right type of business, it will depend on your individual business needs.
Research the market
Market research is everything. You need to understand what’s already out there on the market, who your competitors are, what they stand for and how you can do something better or different. You also need to identify your future customers and tailor your business to serve their needs, if you want to win their custom.
To find out more, check out our guide to market research for your new business.
One of the main challenges of launching an online business is the sheer quantity of websites that exist. Being found online takes time, investment and dedication to playing by the online rules.
Make Google your friend
We all know Google has become the master of online searches. If you want customers to find your website, you need to have a strong SEO strategy and consider other digital marketing channels, such as PPC and social media.
Gaining traction for your online business takes time. Don’t expect to be an overnight success. Prepare for gradual growth, test different approaches and adjust your marketing activity based on a trial and error approach.
Measure your growth
To achieve success you need to know what success looks like. Establish clear goals that you want to achieve and how you’re going to measure those achievements clearly. Track your progress and review progress regularly to keep you on the road to success.
How to keep the costs down
If you want to have a successful online business, you need to keep a keen eye on your financial performance and spending. Even the most modest business idea can get into financial troubles, if you’re not careful.
Stick to the essentials when starting out and be strict with spending. Make sure you can justify all costs for the growth of the business. If you’re going to be an online business it’s worth investing in a robust website. Avoid cutting corners on your web design, but shop around to make sure you’re paying a fair market price.
Find out more ways to keep the costs down.
“It’s never easy coming up with new ideas but remember, ideas don’t always have to be super unique. Sometimes it’s simply a case of looking at something already out there and just doing it better, cheaper, in a new way. The opportunities are endless.
The beauty of online businesses is typically how scalable they are. And being scalable typically makes them sellable“.
– Eddie Whittingham, FounderRead more
Growing your online business
Once you’ve set up your online business and have started trading, it’s time to grow your business. Building a customer base and effectively marketing your products and services will help your business have a healthy future.
And you’re in luck, we have a load of tips and ideas for growing your business.
Funding for online business growth
Starting an online business usually requires less capital than setting up a physical business. But don’t be fooled. You’re still going to need money for your online presence, marketing, stock (if you’re selling products), and much more. Therefore, obtaining funding is important.
You may want to try crowdfunding, or team up with a private investor. Or maybe you’re considering applying for a grant. Whichever funding route you choose, do your homework and base the decision on what’s right for you and your new business.
Check out our guide to funding your startup.
Check out our other articles for more tips, tricks and advice to help your startup succeed.
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