Want to start an online business but not sure where to start and what to do?
We’ve put together this ‘start an online business checklist’ to help you get going!
We all know how overwhelming starting an online business can be. There are so many things that need to happen before you can get your business launched.
In this post, we are going to go through our ‘start an online business checklist’. This is the checklist we’ve used when starting other businesses and websites.
The online business checklist walks you through the steps and will take the overwhelm out of it (well, most of it anyway).
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. This occurs at no extra cost to you.
The ‘Start an Online Business Checklist’:
Come up with your idea
If you haven’t cemented your idea, then nows the time! It can be hard but I find that getting all your ideas out of your head and onto paper makes it so much easier. Brainstorm ideas that you think you’ll be able to create content for easily. Think about services that you can package and sell to others. Come up with ideas for products you can sell.
Once you have an idea, then start researching how you will be able to create an income from it.
Are there other businesses in your niche that are successful? This gives you a good idea if it’s possible to generate an income in that niche. Don’t be afraid to launch a business that already has other successful businesses in the niche, it’s a good sign!
Create your business name and buy your domain
Once you have your idea, you need to come up with a business name. This can be a big process for some people. It can seem like you have a million words and ideas floating around your head, that it’s almost impossible to choose!
I recommend you start by getting all those words that you think will be a good fit and write them down. Once you have a good list, start mixing and matching the words and see what works. You might also want to research synonyms for the words you’ve come up with and see if anything resonates with you.
Create a list of names that you like the best and then you’ll need to make sure the business name and domains are available.
I’m in Australia so if you are also, you’ll need to check the business register and ABNs. If you’re in another country, then you’ll need to check your requirements.
Another tip is to check if there are any Trademarks on the name or pending Trademarks.
If all that comes back clear, then it’s time to buy your domain. When you have your name, buy the domain and set up your hosting, again I like to use Siteground for this and highly recommend them.
Consult with your accountant to set everything up correctly in the beginning
Get your accounts and banking set up the right way from the beginning. There’s nothing worse than getting to tax time and finding out you owe tax and you haven’t saved any or enough. Trust me, I’ve been there and wouldn’t wish it on anyone!
It is an expense but one that will save you money and stress in the future.
Set up your social platforms
You’ve secured your business name and domains, the next step in the ‘start an online business checklist’ is to secure all your social media handles. I usually check this when coming up with the business name. I like to secure the same across all platforms, ideally without underscores or full stops.
Even though you’ve secured all platforms, doesn’t mean that you have to be present on all platforms. Pick the ones that you enjoy and where you think your audience will be. You can refine and change platforms if you’re struggling to get it working for your business (don’t be too quick to change though!). I recommend starting with one or max two.
Once you have your platforms set up and you’ve decided which ones you’re going to focus on, you can start creating content and building your audience. I highly recommend you start somewhere before you’ve got your website up and running. That way you’ll have a small audience that you’ll be able to launch to.
Set up your email marketing platform
Set up your email marketing platform before you have your website up too. You can start building your list before you launch. Within your email marketing platform, you’ll have the option to use an URL for your sign up form or creating a landing page. Use this page as your website on your social platforms before you have your website up.
You can start building excitement and let your audience what they can expect from you and your business. You can start with something simple like ‘Sign up so you don’t miss our launch!’ or have a discount code that they can use once you launch. Simple and effective.
I use Active Campaign and highly recommend them. It is a paid platform. If your budget doesn’t allow it, then Mailchimp allows you to start for free.
Design your logo and branding
Branding and logo designs are big jobs and one that can be so time-consuming if you don’t have much experience in the area. Branding (and web design) is something that I recommend you outsource if you can.
If you want to (or have to) create it yourself, then start with something simple. Start by creating a secret Pinterest board and pin elements and colours that you like. When starting, don’t be too picky with what you pin. Once you’ve pinned quite a few, then go into the board and have a look. What can you see? What are the common colours, fonts and elements? See what resonates with you the most and start from there.
Just remember that this first version probably isn’t going to be your ideal branding and logo. It’s a start to get your business up and out there. It’s so easy to procrastinate here and never launch anything. Don’t be that person. Get it up and out there then refine.
The most simple logo to start with is one with just text, no graphic within the logo. I purchase my fonts from Creative Market. You can also purchase a premade logo. You then simply change the name in it and you have yourself a logo. Just remember that this logo won’t be unique to you. You might see it within another business but hey, it’s a start. You can create this logo in Canva or Illustrator.
To keep things simple, you could just use black and white or you could add some colour. I like to choose 3 colours and go from there. You might find that you prefer one and that will be the main colour in your branding and website. Try and get the hex codes for the colours and store them in your branding kit. You’ll need to refer back to them frequently.
Create your website
This is a big job! If you don’t have much experience with websites, then outsource this if you can. YOu’ll save so much time and energy. Having said that, if you do it yourself you will learn so much and you’ll feel confident editing and updating your site in the future.
If you’re wanting to create your own, then I recommend you take this free course from Chelsea over at Her Paper Route. She’ll walk you through it all in an easy to understand way.
Next step to start creating content on your site. Depending on the type of business you have created, this might include loading products, creating blog posts or setting up your services. You’ll need to something on your site to launch with! Start with the main topics in your business and start creating!
Figure out the best income streams for your business
When you start your business, you’ll have an idea of how you’re going to monetise it but make sure you explore all options and start working towards building your income streams.
In this blog post, I list 10 business ideas you can use to create income in your business. Options could be affiliate income, selling services, ad revenue, selling digital products and selling physical products. You could choose to start with one but there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate more than one.
For example, if you have a business that sells services, then you could also add some affiliate marketing if you’re recommending products for your clients to use. The possibilities are endless!
If you’re unsure of where to start then I recommend you start with affiliate marketing. It’s a great way to start because you’re selling other people’s products. You don’t have to create products yourself. The other great thing about starting with affiliate marketing is that you will be able to see what your audience likes and is buying. That will give you ideas of products you can create within your business down the track. To learn you need to know about affiliate marketing from someone that earns $50 000/month from affiliate marketing, then I can’t recommend this course enough.
Launch your website
Yay! Your site is up and you can launch! It’s so exciting when all that hard work pays off and you have something to show for it!
Seeing as though you have been building your audience, you’ll have people to launch to. Let them know and capitalise on that excitement you’ve been building!
Grow your business!
The funny thing is though……it’s only now that the hard work starts. Sorry if I just burst your confidence bubble but it’s true. Now it’s time to learn as much as you can and grow your business. It’s a huge learning curve but one that will see you grow and become a completely different person.
You’ll grow in ways you didn’t know were possible.
You’ll be stretched.
You’ll want to give up so many times.
You’ll wins and think you’re all over it.
It’s a rollercoaster but such an amazing journey. Keep moving forward every day. This is the key to building a successful business. You’ll hear people saying that X% of businesses fail. I’m sure this is because they give up way too early. Keep going!
I hope the ‘Start an Online Business Checklist’ gets you heading in the right direction from the beginning. If you want to know more about building your business, then our free Blogging Roadmap (it’s applicable for other business models as well) will help you out!