Twenty years ago having a website attached to your business would have placed you in the forefront of the digital industry, but today the internet has become so mainstream that having a website is a necessity.
In 2018 it’s estimated that nearly 221 million people will shop online and by 2021 it’s expected to be up to 230 million online shoppers per year. While traditional physical products account for some of these sales, there are increasing numbers of non-traditional offerings that have created new industries.
However, regardless of the business model you’ll be using, there are a few steps you’ll want to take into account before getting start.
- Check The Legal Stuff
Before getting started, make sure your legal documents are in order. For instance, do you need to register your business? Are there specific liabilities that putting your business online will expose you to? Have you looked into the legal pages you’ll need to have on your website?
These are the boring, yet vital legal things you need to start with. Seeing a lawyer who specializes in ecommerce is the best option. However, there are several online legal services that will draft your private policies, and disclaimers. If you can afford nothing else that’s a great place to start.
- Get Your Budget In Line
Even if you already have an offline presence, starting anything online will require some budgeting. Do you have the financial backing you need to reach your financial goals?
If you’re just starting out this might mean having a budget for your hosting, domain name, website development, and ecommerce plugins.
If you have big goals however, you will need to think about marketing, social media management and monthly services you’ll need to maintain your business and its goals.
Map out your funds for the first five years and make sure you have at least your first year of expenses budgeted out.
- Get Organized
Running an internet business can happen from anywhere, but you still want to set up a work area that’s distraction free and organized. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work and having to get up and get supplies or having a TV on next to you. Even if you don’t designate a particular workspace, make sure you have the equipment needed to run your digital business smoothly.
For instance, do you have your backup drives, and printers ready to go? Also, obtain any necessary office supplies that your digital business will need. Try to take an inventory ahead of time so you can include these costs in your budget.
- Define Your Target Market
Most people lay out their target market in their business plan before starting their website anyways. But, if you haven’t take some time to define who your audience is, now is the time. In addition to your traditional demographics, take some time to think about the person you’re marketing to. This is often called a target market profile and it can help you get a more detailed vision for who you’re designing your website for.
- Hosting, Your Platform, And Domain Name
Once you have the paperwork sorted, and you’ve thought about how a website can effectively help your target audience, it’s time to look into the hosting and domain name.
Learning how to create a website can be a bit intimidating, but there are a variety of platforms and hosts you can use, so take some time to do your research and consider your budget along the way.
If you have a lower budget, and more time on your hands, choosing WordPress with WooCommerce might be the best solution for you. However, if you’re an established business looking for a program out of the box, going with an ecommerce solution like Shopify could save you a lot of time.
When you’re doing your research into these various options, make sure you keep a spreadsheet with the features each one provides, the resources required to run it, and the cost.
In addition to the hosting and platform research, you’ll need to invest in a domain name. Your domain name should reflect your business to the best of its ability.
Once you’ve gone through this checklist, you’ll be ready to sit down and get started with your new online adventure!