While starting an online business may seem like a daunting task, there are proven steps that one can take to have the best chance of success. And while the internet has made it more easy to start a business for everyone, doesn't mean that you can just rush in without a solid plan.

The steps below should provide you with a good footing to begin your online business, and while they don't have to be completed in any particular order, they are all important on your path to success.

1. Decide on a Product

While this step might seem obvious, it's important to not only know what you want to provide to customers, but also if that product or service will make for a viable business. Doing research on the market before jumping in head first is crucial to making sure that you are going to be successful long-term. Even with a completely flawless business plan, if your product or service has no market, your business will fail.

2. Decide on a Business Plan

After deciding on your product and the viability of it, it's time to build your business plan. A business plan will fully determine your businesses' purpose and product, build your business model and identify your target market. This is also the perfect time to test out your business idea by talking to industry professionals, other entrepreneurs and potential customers to get a more accurate picture on the future success of your business.

3. Decide on a Name

This step might seem as obvious as the product you are going to sell, but there is more to think of when coming up with a name for your business than it may seem on the surface. Since this business will primarily be online, you will need to check if the name is available to be used as a:
  • Business in your state
  • Domain Name
  • Username on each social media platform that you are going to use
If your name isn't available on all of these channels, then it is either time to decide on another name that will be available, or to decide on different versions of that name.

4. Build Your Website

It is important to remember that for an online-only business, the website is as important as the storefront is to physical businesses. And the look and feel of a website should have the same amount of care put into it as your would to a building that you were going to lease to run a business from. When looking to build your website, there are many different options. There are services available to help you make your own site, but for many online businesses hiring an experienced web development company to help will make much more business sense.

5. Market Your Business Pre-Launch

Before launching your website, it is important to promote your new business and the products and services that it will be providing to customers. It is also important to remember to be slowly building anticipation for a future launch date during each of the above steps as well, so that when the pre-launch phase comes you have as many future customers excited about your store as possible. Building your business plan will dictate the best way for you to promote your business, as well as your promotion budget, and will differ for each company. Some great ideas that have worked for other businesses include, connecting to guests through paid social media posts, paid search on search engines or through email marketing.

6. Launch!

Even though you won't be having a traditional physical store-opening, launching your website and allowing guests to shop for your products is still an exciting time for a business! Make sure that you send out an announcement to the people you have connected with through your pre-launch marketing, and continue to promote your business to other future clients using the same techniques you did to gain traction before you launched. After launching the work is just beginning, but by using the above steps you will have a solid foundation for your new online business that you can use to guide you to success for many years to come!