In the past months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic impact our world in ways we might never have imagined. With several industries furloughing many of their workers, many people have been without a job. As such, many people have been seeking alternative ways of making income.
Even if you’re lucky enough not to have been laid off, you’ve probably also thought about other ways to earn money. And given the need to follow social distancing regulations, you probably want to do business remotely too.
Because of the need to follow social distancing measures, more people have been turning to e-commerce for their shopping and businesses. If you’ve been thinking of starting an online small business, here are just a few of the things you’ll need.
1. Web design and digital marketing tools
If you’re serious about starting a business, you’ll need tools like e-mail marketing, web design, and SEO, apart from just social media.
Perhaps you think you can forgo building a website for your brand because social media exists, and it’s a great marketing tool. You’re mistaken. Social media platforms are great marketing tools, but it wasn’t made for e-commerce.
If you use Instagram, for example, as a makeshift website for your brand, you’ll be limited to the confines of the platform’s interface. But when you design a website for your brand, you’ll have a range of customizable tools for all your needs.
You’ll also need digital marketing tools. Digital marketing is a way to spread awareness of your brand using the internet. It makes use of tools such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
As compared to traditional marketing – such as TV, radio, and print advertisements – digital marketing is cheaper. It also can reach a wider audience, whereas traditional marketing is usually confined to a particular region.
Another great thing about digital marketing is that it’s personalized and measurable. It gathers data about consumers, their demographics, and their shopping habits. Doing this allows you to personalize the content you send to each consumer based on these data.
Through analytics, it will enable you to see whether the marketing content you’re posting is effective – i.e., if it’s getting your brand attention.
2. A niche
The Little Lebowski is a store in New York City dedicated to selling merchandise based on the 1998 cult classic filmThe Big Lebowski. Co-owners Roy Preston and Nicholas Dollak originally intended for their shop to be a children’s bookstore, but that endeavor didn’t do them any favors.
Eventually, they got around to selling the Big Lebowski-themed shirts. Seeing that these sold more than the books, their suppliers sent them more and more Lebowski merchandise. Today, their shop has become a popular destination in Greenwich Village.
Co-owner Roy Preston’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to find their niche. This is a crucial part of starting a business. Focusing on a niche market will pinpoint your target and help you adjust your marketing materials accordingly.
Trying to serve as broad a market as possible may stretch you too thin, especially when you’re just starting. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to. Instead, focus your efforts on serving a specific group of people.
Once you find your niche, do your research. Know the consumers, their habits, and what they want. Then get to know the competition; if you know what kind of products or services you want to sell, check Google Trends. This will help you to see how many people have been googling those keywords.
3. Hire a bookkeeper
Many small business owners will say that they can manage their bookkeeping. Unless you’re a skilled accountant yourself, it’s still best to hire an expert. Having an accountant from the get-go can help you with planning your business. An accountant can help you plot your finances, secure the proper permits and documents, and prepare for your business in both the short and long-term.
Once you’ve started your business, you also have the option to use an accounting software tool such as QuickBooks for your bookkeeping needs.
Of course, you’ll need money to pay for all these things. You have to spend money to make money. Perhaps you have some money saved up that you can use to launch your startup, or maybe you’re thinking of applying for a loan. Take advantage of the e-commerce trend. Find a niche
There are many other things you’ll need when starting an online business, but these four things will give you a good foundation. Even if you’re lucky enough not to have been furloughed – or perhaps you’ve bounced back and found employment – it’s still worth it to look for other avenues of income.
Find a niche market you’d like to serve and study them. Gather some money from your savings or a loan and enlist an accountant to help you plot finances.