How To Start An Online Business: 10-Step Guide And Checklist

Starting a successful online business is a great way to take control of your professional life. They can be built cheaply and run from your own home, or anywhere in the world!

How To Start An Online Business: 10-Step Guide And Checklist

Ecommerce has risen in popularity, with the Covid pandemic resulting in a large spike in e-commerce sales. Therefore, now is the time to start one if it’s always been your passion. 

You may feel like you want to start up a side hustle, one which could do so well that you end up making it your full-time job. Or, you may have always dreamed of starting your own business. 

Whatever the reason, this article is going to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how you can do this. 

1. Come Up With An Idea 

All great businesses come from great ideas. This idea must answer questions such as what is your business going to be about. Who is your target audience? What is your product/what services do you offer? Who is your competition? 

However, you must also own this idea, and it all comes down to why you are exploring this idea. An online business should offer a solution to customers, so what issue or problem are you trying to solve? 

2. Choose Your Target Market 

Your target market refers to the group of people you are going to serve. The trick to perfecting this is to make sure you are part of that target market. This way, you’ll be knowledgeable about what it is you are trying to sell to potential customers. 

For example, if you’re an artist, then you’ll know exactly what products suit different painting styles, and what potential customers may need. 

Therefore, in order to choose a target market, try asking yourself what you are interested in, and whether there’s something you have a lot of interest in and knowledge about. 

3. Find The Problem To Solve

We touched on this in step 1, but once you’ve come up with the idea, and identified your target audience, you really need to hone into what problem you are trying to solve. 

Every business solves a problem. Clothing brands allow people to express themselves, online delivery businesses allow people to order products without having to leave home. What problem is your online business going to solve? 

The bigger, and more prominent the issue, the more people are willing to pay for your services. 

4. Choose A Business Model 

Once you know what your business is going to be based on, and who you are going to target, you can begin to think about what business model you are going to follow. There are a few types of online businesses (see also: How To Start An Online Business With No Money)you can choose from. 

Affiliate marketing is one where you promote another business’s products online, (see also: Digital Marketing 101: How To Market Your Business Online)and receive a commission for each sale you make. Another model is freelancing, where you offer services based on a skill you have, such as writing, teaching, designing, or programming. 

You can also follow the e-commerce model, where you use a service to make a website and sell physical products online. 

5. Build Your Website 

No matter what services you are offering, if it is an online business then it needs a website. While this may sound daunting, it is actually pretty simple to do.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can build your website yourself. This will ensure you have full control of the website and is the most cost-effective way of creating one.

You can also opt for using a website builder, which will take you through the process of registering with a domain name, and creating your site from scratch. 

Alternatively, you can hire someone to develop your website. While this will cost money, a developer has all the right knowledge on building websites and can take care of this side of things for you, while you continue to work on growing your business. 

6. Fill Your Website With Copy

Once you’ve built your website, you’ll need to fill it with optimized copy. It all needs to be well-written, well-researched, and answer the question as to why the user has come to your website.

How To Start An Online Business: 10-Step Guide And Checklist

You should also consider including SEO content, which will attract traffic to your website based on relevant search queries. 

7. Analyze Your Competition

Analyzing your competitors will help you stay on track with trends, and will help you understand what is working within your niche, and what isn’t. It can also help you define your business strategy. 

You can do this by buying some of their products, signing up for their newsletter, or even just following them on their social media pages. 

You can also have a look at their customer reviews in order to see what other people are saying about them. If they are your competitors, then you are likely to have the same target audience, so this will benefit you greatly. 

Be sure to document all of your findings by taking notes, as this will be helpful when it comes to your own business. 

8. Make Sure You’re Covered Legally

All businesses must abide by certain laws and regulations. These will differ depending on your region. For example, you may want to register your business as a sole proprietor, or as an LLC.

If you are unsure of which one applies to your business, then seeking guidance from a tax specialist can help inform you. 

Depending on the business you own, you may need a license or permit to operate. These will also differ depending on the area in which you live, so it may be worth contacting the local state department to find out. 

Tax is also a very important aspect to consider. Business owners are required to pay income tax, but again, this will depend on your region, so speaking to an attorney will inform you of the appropriate rules. 

9. Payment Methods

Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to figure out how your business is going to take payments from customers. 

Your online options are normally Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, and accepting credit or debit cards. 

10. Marketing 

In order for your business to be seen and get noticed, you’ll need to promote it using the appropriate marketing tools. 

You can do this through social media marketing, where you share content to engage with your target audience and direct traffic to your website. 

Another option is paid advertising, where you advertise your services for a price through Instagram, Google, and Facebook. 

You can also opt for Influencer marketing, where people with a large following will promote your products in order to influence your target audience. 


Once you’ve gone through the above, you can tick off the following checklist: 

  • Idea 
  • Target Audience
  • Solve The Problem
  • Business Model 
  • Website 
  • Fill The Website With Copy 
  • Analyze Competition
  • Cover Legal Bases 
  • Payment Methods 
  • Marketing

Final Thoughts 

To conclude, as long as you are passionate and driven, starting up your own online business can be done after following the 10 steps mentioned in this article. 

It is always best to base your business on something you are knowledgeable on, as this will ensure you are covering all bases.