The Essential Six-Step Guide to Creating an Online Business

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What has surprised you most about this pandemic?

There are definitely plenty of viable answers – how people responded (both good and bad), the action (or inaction) of politicians, the pivots people and businesses were forced to make (online and off) – all have indeed been eye-opening.

For me, the biggest surprise professionally has been the surge of interest in people who are looking to start a business generally, and an affordable online business specifically. For example, I recently presented a webinar on that topic for SCORE and we set a record for attendance – more than 5,000 people signed up to watch it.

And yet, maybe the intensity of interest should not be surprising. E-commerce over the past decade has posted double-digit growth every year, meaning, yes, it would definitely behoove you to jump aboard the online small business train. And the good news is that my friends at Yahoo Small Business are making creating an online business easier than ever with their sweet offer, available until the end of the year, to get their Get Online suite of tools free for an entire year.

This then begs the question: What exactly are the steps to creating an online business? It is actually pretty easy, especially with the great tools I am going to share with you.

Essentially, it is a six-step process.

Step 1. Come up with an idea for the site and business: There are two things to keep in mind as you begin to think about your new e-business:

  • First, you want to choose something that you love. It is a rare moment when you get to pick the perfect profession, so choose wisely grasshopper. What are you passionate about, and what sorts of businesses can you create that revolve around that passion?
  • Second, make sure there is a market for what it is you love. While Flemish architecture may fascinate you, there are probably not a lot of people looking to buy your Flemish architecture expertise.

It is when you marry your interests with a market need that you are most likely to hit a small business homerun.

Step 2. Draft a business plan and get your business funded: A business plan might be as short as a page or as long as thirty pages; it all depends on the scope and vision of your business.

Either way, the point is the same: You need to set out your vision for the business, why it is needed, who your customers will be, how you will market it, and so on. Fortunately, creating a business plan can be done with this tool, Business Maker, in about 20 minutes. If you need to get a business loan or outside investors, you will use this business plan for that purpose.

Step 3. Name the business and get the domain name: The domain name of your business (also known as the URL) is critical. You want a business name and domain that people will remember. This is where Yahoo Small Business’ Get Online offer can also come in handy as it incorporates domain choosing into the process, and they are giving away the URL registration free for the first year – a great hard cost to avoid if you can!

Step 4. Create your site and social. The templates and point-and-click aspect of creating a small business site will allow you to create a professional-looking site in a very short amount of time. Having a clean and easy-to-navigate site makes it easier for customers to search for (and buy) your products or services.

After that, you need to claim the handles for your business name at the various social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Creating a website and establishing a social media presence early on helps legitimatize and promote your business and attract customers.

Step 5: Nuts and bolts. You may want to incorporate by creating an LLC. Additionally, you will need to file the proper documentation for your new business with your city and state, and also set up a bank account in the name of your new business.

Step 6: Launch and review: One of the best parts of an online business is that it is easy to see what is working (by checking clicks and sales), what is not, and then to make necessary changes.

One thing you will also want to do here at the beginning is to make sure your new online business is listed in all of the different search engines and directories. LocalWorks can help with that.

Here’s how it can look: Daniel Johnson is the owner of a wellness coaching company called WELL\THEORY. Knowing that he needed a great online presence, he took advantage of the free Get Online Offer.

Says Daniel, “In just a few minutes I had a professional landing page that I could publish and share. The features are robust and the platform is simple to use. I would highly recommend the Get Online offer and have told several of my entrepreneurial friends that they should check it out.”

So, what are you waiting for? Now is a great time to start an online business. And with free tools to help you get started, you can follow these steps and turn your passion into your profession.

This post is sponsored by Yahoo Small Business. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.