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Setting up an online business? We’ve got the guide for you!

As a society we spend more money online than ever before and who can blame us, there are deals everywhere. E-commerce is a huge part of our economy.

“How can I set up an online business? I want to get in on this!” I hear you cry. OK, we’re going to take a look at how you lay a sturdy foundation for running a successful online business.

Setting up an online business? We’ve got the guide for you!

The three Ps: Plan, Plan and Plan again

A business plan is so incredibly important! Don’t be caught without one – not in this day and age. Will you be a sole trader or a limited company? You should have every aspect of your new business underpinned, from the roles you and any partners will fulfil to something as simple as your business name or Twitter handle.

A good business plan should set out exactly what your mission as a business is and how you aim to complete that mission.

We put together a brief blog on business plans – so take a look for some added guidance.

Market Research

Market research is genuinely very important. It will give you an insight into which areas your small business should avoid or where you could make a respectable profit. 

Research should never be undervalued, don’t try to set up a business without conducting a fair amount of research beforehand. Don’t go into battle unprepared and unequipped!

You first round of research should consider these points: 

• What makes your service or product different to your competitors?
• Who is likely to be your target market?
• How much should you charge?

There are various ways in which you can source the answers to these questions and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Speak to family and friends, even current co-workers. You can also set up free online surveys. 

Once you’ve completed your research, begin to analyse the results and if necessary conduct it again. Just make sure that all this information feeds into the project.

Data Protection

This is really important for any online business; if you don’t take the right steps to protect any data you hold then you could risk receiving a substantial fine and damaging your burgeoning reputation. For more information take a look at the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Website

One of the staples of any online business is, of course, the website. There are different routes that you can take to create a website, this all depends upon your previous experience and comfort level when it comes to website design.

If you have some money put aside then you might want to consider hiring someone to put the website together for you. It gives you that professional edge but also comes at a significant cost.

Another option is to create the site yourself. There are lots of online providers who offer monthly subscriptions and provide you will the basic tools to set up a website. 

Just make sure the package you choose offers a mobile responsive version of your site otherwise buyers won’t be able to view it on the go and you’ll lose out on sales.

There are risks to this approach; if the provider goes out of business there’s a chance that your website will disappear with it. Plus, you might not get all the support you need when you need it (but that’s the worst case scenario).

SEO

Once your website is fully formed and you’re in control, populate it with interesting content. This can take the form of blogs, guides or videos that relate to your business.
 
Spend some time researching Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because you’ll need to spend a fair bit of time improving your Google ranking. This will impact the amount of clients you draw in.

If you’re not entirely sure what this means, then take a look at this helpful beginners guide to SEO.

Taking payments

In order to receive payments from customers you will need to accept card payments online. There are lots of providers out there, but at FSB we offer this service as part of our membership subscription. You can find out more by visiting our card payment processing page.