Online businesses are easier to start than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, making them especially appealing to new entrepreneurs. Hypothetically, you could start an entire online business in the span of a day—but is this really a feasible plan for most people? Just how hard is it to start a new online business from scratch? 

Coming Up With The Idea

First, you’ll need to come up with an idea for your online business. Fortunately, the options are practically limitless. There are millions of examples of successful online businesses, and you can look to any one of them for inspiration—so long as you make some changes so your idea is your own. 

Much of your success will depend on what type of business you choose to start. You could, for example, set up an online storefront that resells wholesale products at a markup. This would require some knowledge of the retail industry, and the ability to fulfill orders—which might require some additional infrastructure. You could also simply start a blog and try to monetize it once it gets popular. 

Whatever the case, your first major step is going to be writing a business plan. It isn’t the sexiest part of the entrepreneurial journey, but it’s one of the most important elements. Your business plan will guide you in researching things like your financial future, your current level of competition, and your target demographics. With it, you’ll get a good understanding of your chances of success, and what your key challenges are going to be. 

Setting Up The Basics

Once you have a business plan you’re satisfied with, the next step is getting set up with the basic components of your online business. These are some of the most important logistical steps: 

Formally Establish Your Ccompany.

Hopefully, in the course of writing your business plan or researching your business, you’ll come up with a name for your business, and decide how you want to structure that business. If you’re just starting out, you could technically operate a sole proprietorship (or a partnership if you’re working with someone else). However, while these types of business entities are convenient and easy to understand, they don’t offer you much liability protection. Instead, it may be better to start an LLC (limited liability company) for your online business. LLCs may seem complicated, but they can be established online in the span of an hour or less by hiring an LLC service and can offer tons of tax and liability benefits for your company.

Name The Business And Buy A Domain.

Using your business’s name, you’ll want to choose a domain name that’s relevant to your business, appropriate for your brand, and both catchy and memorable for your visitors. Of course, the domain also needs to be available. Depending on the value and accessibility of your ideal domain, you may need to come up with a different idea. However, this step shouldn’t take much time or effort. 

Create A Website.

Then, you’ll need to create a website. If you don’t have a design background, this may be challenging for you. However, there are many free website builders out there, and most of them have built-in free templates you can use to make your site look original. Combine that with the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editors, and pretty much anyone with some technical savvy can build a website from scratch in the span of a few hours. That said, you may eventually want to upgrade with a professional designer if you want your site to stand out and attract customers. 

Building And Nurturing The Business

From there, everything’s on you as a business owner. Depending on the nature of the business, you may need to invest in additional equipment or hire employees. For example, if you’re making handmade crafts and selling them online, you’ll need some way to efficiently ship them. However, this isn’t a strictly necessary step for all businesses

Instead, your next steps are likely going to focus on generating attention for your website. You can start with an inbound marketing campaign, like utilizing a combination of onsite content and social media posts to generate attention and rank higher in search engines. You can also utilize paid advertising, assuming you have the budget for it. In any case, you’ll need some way to build an initial stream of visitors. 

So what’s the bottom line here? The basic steps of starting an online business are uncomplicated and easy to understand. If you have a strong business idea, even if you have little entrepreneurial experience, you should be able to get started in just a few days. The hard part is doing the research and making the tweaks necessary to ensure your business model actually works.