entrepreneurSo you have decided to get out of the 9 to 5 rut and be on your own. Great decision indeed!

Few can muster the courage to take the actual plunge into a world of complete uncertainty.

And then, there are the naysayers who try to prove to you how wrong your decision was.
However, what you also gain with this decision is the ultimate opportunity to be on your own. Give your best when you are at your absolute peak, decide your work hours and be responsible for yourself. But with every decision to quit a job comes a massive responsibility that you must be ready to handle. Whatever you do from here on is going to define how you take care of yourself, your family and your complete financial future.

If under these circumstances, you decide to set up an offline business, I suggest you should have an immaculate plan to get things going for you. Considering the overall investment that you make, the resources you need to purchase, the people you have to hire – the list just goes on. However, considering the ease with which you can set up an online business today, things have gotten easier.

Here are 10 simple steps for you to get started with your online business right away:

Step 1: Decide what problem you can solve

Yes, starting an online business gives you the added advantage of reaching out to an incredible audience size in one go. You must know what is it that you are really good at. So first things first, take a pen and paper and jot down what is it that people would come to you for, what problems can you help them solve and you should be underway. It could be an online training that helps people learn a new skill or it could be a physical product that you offer on your website. Either way, you must be assured that it solves the problem of a major target audience and these people should be willing to come to you and should also pay for it.

Step 2: Define your target audience persona

Once you know which problem you can solve, you can also know for whom you are solving the same. Is it the average middle management executive, age between 30 – 45 years of age, stays in a metropolitan area, management education taken and average income earned is between USD 3 – 5k  per month. You must then understand where is it that you are most likely to find this audience, which social media communities or groups do they belong to and which platform can you engage the best with them.

Step 3: Get a domain name for your online business

It is now time for you to also decide on a name for your online business such that it resonates best with your buyer persona. It makes better sense to have a name that is most likely to register instantly in the minds of your audience and stay with them for easy recall. Something that is short and can be associated with fun things can make for great domain names. If you look at examples of a lot of online gurus already doing this like – quicksprout.com, hubspot.com or even backlinko.com you will realise that all these domain names are short and catchy with an easy recall value. You would like to visit the website of an existing domain registration company like Godaddy.com & check some of the names you find interesting to know if you can book them. If you like any, you can shortlist and book it instantly.

Step 4: Purchase hosting for your online domain

When you purchase a domain, the next step is it should be hosted.  A web web hosting service provider offers you the technologies, services and resources required for your website to be viewed on the internet. Your website is thus hosted, or in simple words stored, on special computers called servers. When any user of the internet wants to view your website and enters your domain name web address in the browser, the computer connects to your server and your website is delivered to the user. There are many free hosting services but if you want to be in the online business for the long term, you must consider a paid hosting that offers all services you require. This ensures that your website is safe and allows your business to grow over time.

Step 5: Create your website with a CMS (content management system)

No you don’t need to be a web designer or an expert to design or build your website. There are many different content management systems also referred to as CMS for you to choose from and your top priority must be choosing the right platform. You don’t want to start building your site on a CMS platform and later find out that it’s totally inappropriate for you and your website. There are many CMS like Joomla or Drupal or WordPress for you to choose from.

 While there are some platforms that might require you to know a little bit of HTML / CSS or other coding languages, for beginners, there can be no better CMS than WordPress. 50 % of the world’s websites today are being run on WordPress alone. The reason – WordPress is very user friendly and is the trustest platform for some of the busiest websites globally. It can be easily customised with plugins and you also can get drag and drop functionality to build your site easily. If you want to build simple small business website or a complex e-comerce site with thousands of products, it can be easily taken care of with WordPress. It is responsive, mobile friendly with a ready community of developers who are happy to help you with any thing if you get stuck. And the best part is – it is completely free!

Step 6: Get a software for E-commerce (If you plan for an e-commerce model)

An e-commerce model allows your website visitors to view your products, enter their information and make a secure purchase on your website. This software effectively stores your customer information and it makes a huge difference in making it easy for your customers to feel confident and safe about making a purchase on your website. There are a few all-inclusive e-commerce web services like Shopify as well that offer you the templates, credit card processing and many more features that make it easy for you to sell your products on the internet.

Step 7: Set up your payment merchant facility

For most online businesses, setting up an online payment processing system could be considered to be a tedious task With the help of payment enabling services such as PayPal or Payoneer, it becomes possible for you to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services. Should the need arise, you can also resolve any disputes related to payment made by customers, issue refunds as well as smoothen the entire payment collection process.

Step 8: Add relevant content on your website

It is now time to add content on your website. Build focus on your key areas of expertise, and display them professionally. You can include descriptions, where appropriate or even add articles that can help your visitors make a buying decision. For any website, the primary aspect must he ‘Why’ or the reason for you to do business. This must be effectively communicated through your web pages. The 5 primary pages that you must definitely have on your website are: Home page, About us, Services / Products, Contact us and Blog (more on this in the next point). With each of these pages, your objective must be to slowly build trust and make your visitor want to keep coming back to you.

Step 9: Get started with a blog (Share your expertise with the world)

Irrespective of how much you may feel you don’t need a blog, let me tell you this straight away – If you are running an online business, the chances of you being successful in the shortest possible time are 1000 times higher if you have a well populated blog. The first step for your online business to get visitors is for it to be first found in search engine results. So if you are running an online business for ‘Digital Marketing Training’ then any visitor who enters this term in a search engine must be able to then find you in the results list.

If you are not found here, there will not be many visits from searches on keywords relevant to your online business. Most search engines prefer to display search results that educate the reader on the topics they search for. Authoritative websites such as Hubspot, Quicksprout thus work a lot on educating their readers on the topics of their expertise and thus build trust. You should similarly start sharing your views and expertise through your blog and dramatically improve the chances of being found on the internet.

Step 10: Build your Email subscribers list

The online business world is increasingly about permission marketing today. This means that you must be able to get visitors come to you – Inbound is the way ahead. With online business, the idea is to get visitors engage with you on your website. You must share your expertise through your blog and also offer useful resources to download. Just imagine, if this visitor ever decides to make a purchasing decision, would he prefer to buy it from you or from some other random source he is not sure of? Your strategy for Inbound marketing must thus be to get them to share their Email ids with you for further communication. 70% people who visit your website may probably not find their way back to your site again. This means you only have just a few seconds of their time in which you can convince them to share further details about themselves. Once you have thus built your email list, you should make sure that you engage with them regularly by providing them valuable insights and resources.

With these 10 steps in place, you are well and truly on course to take your online business to the next level. You have a fully functional website that draws visitors with relevant content as well as blog articles and you have the mechanism to draw visitors. Once these visitors share their email ids with you, they give you permission to connect with them in the future. This is thus a great opportunity for you to take your online business up by several notches. Watch this blog for some more advanced and effective techniques to grow your online business exponentially. If you know of any more basic steps that are absolutely necessary to start your online business, please share with us in the comments.