When starting an online business, the more you plan ahead, the less money you’ll be wasting and the faster your plans will come together. This section is designed to help you ask yourself the right questions. Trust us–working backwards from the “why” of your business will make going forward a much smoother process.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
And more importantly, why does it matter? There are over 255 million sites on the web today, a number that is growing exponentially with every passing minute. You heard that right. 255 million websites competing ruthlessly for the attention and money of users. You’ll need to solve a problem and solve it exceptionally in order to create a niche for yourself.
First, think about the problem you are going to solve. Are there already 20 other businesses trying to tackle or service this niche? What will your solution be and how will it be better? What is your market and how does it function? What is it missing?
More than this, what are you looking to accomplish for yourself? Wealth? Fame? Hero status? To change the world? Think long and hard about the answers to these questions, as they will be the groundwork for how you proceed.
HOW WILL AN ONLINE COMPONENT ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS?
To answer this question, ask yourself another question: how will your customers interact with you online?
Finding out who your customers are and how they use technology is the first step to knowing what kind of online products you should focus on. Will you be selling products directly to other businesses? Directly to customers? Will you be looking to get a critical mass of users interested in a social network? How will you make money? Where will it come from?
One way to glean information from you customers is to do some focused testing before building out larger systems. A simple A/B or split test can yield a plethora of data regarding customers desires and opinions. Offer two versions of a similar product. Try changing the creative elements or even the offer itself to see which people respond to more favorably.
This information will almost certainly keep you from making costly mistakes. For example, you took the time to learn that your customers prefer to do their business on their mobile phones? Suddenly, your whole strategy shifts to prioritizing mobile products or apps over large browser-based sites.
Talk to your customers. Connect with them online. Find out all you can before you start building anything. The answers might surprise you. Not having those answers can be very costly for your business.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GET IT DONE?
So, you sat down and thought long and hard about your business and what will set you apart from your competitors. You also learned about your customers and their needs. You’ve got a solid idea of what you’d do and how you’d do it.
Practically speaking, the next step is to think long and hard about what it will take to get your online business off the ground.
Perhaps you are already functioning in some capacity. Maybe you already have a bricks-and-mortar location or a catalog service. Perhaps you are building from the ground up.
Either way, the reality of the situation is that you’ll need to develop and design an online product that will fulfill your customers’ needs.
What will this product do? What will it look like? Who will build it? Do you have the information and the know-how to build it yourself or will you need professional help with design, technical and strategic aspects?
Mapping out the answers to these questions will put you miles ahead of your competition before you even start.
Tags: website design, online business, startups
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