How to start an online business: A detailed step-by-step guide

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1. Conduct market research

Come up with an idea

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve already come up with an idea for your online business. However, if you’re still in need of inspiration, your first step should be to try looking for a need.

Ask family, friends, peers, and forums whether there are any services, products or content that they’d love to be able to access on the internet, but haven’t been able to find.

Similarly, you should think about your own experiences. Has there ever been a time where you’d searched for something online, but hadn’t come across a good enough result?

Research and test the market

Before committing to investing time and money into your idea, you’ll want to know that it’s got the potential to be successful.

To help refine your idea and understand its potential to do well, carry out the following market research techniques:

1. Carry out a competitor analysis

Research all the businesses that could be considered competitors. Make note of how they work, what they’re doing, how well they’re doing, and who their customers are.

This will give you an idea of who your target customers could be – and will get you thinking about how you might do things better than your competitors.

2. Define your target audience

Understanding which internet users you should be targeting will help you to make important decisions about the way your website works, looks and feels. Do they have a particular age, income bracket, gender, profession, interest or hobby?

Find out how to calculate your target audience size here.

3. Seek feedback on your idea

Ask members of your target audience what they think of your idea, whether they’d visit your site, and how you might improve it.

You can ask people you know (though they must be people who’ll be absolutely honest in their feedback), or run focus groups and/or online questionnaires.

Learn more about this process here.


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