August 14, 2007
Step 1: Create The Idea
Decide what type of business venture you would like to undertake. The internet is a large place, but there is always room for more and competition in some markets is still in its infancy. Many start up internet companies are from people who have an idea. This idea can come from work, family, friends or even to solve a problem in their personal life. If you plan to start an internet business in a new field, it is good to have connections in that specific field. Having connections through family and friends or even your full-time or part-time job can be a significant advantage over the competition.
Step 2: Do The Research
You will need to do some market research to discover what types of products you will be selling, who you will be selling to, typical and non-typical costs involved and how profitable these products will be for you. You will want to do Keyword Analysis on the major search engines to find out what your target audience is searching for and how they are locating your type of business online. Another thing you might consider is creating a solid business plan.
Business plan creation software and guides are all over the internet. Just search for “Business Plan Guide”. Finding out what your competition is doing is a great way to discover new ideas and plans to being more profitable. You will want to distinguish your new business from the competition so be creative, don’t just copy off of what the competition is doing. Once you have a solid plan in place you are ready to move forward to creating the business website, establishing a customer base and then generating revenue.
Step 3: Establish Web Presence
Now that you have your idea and plan set, it’s time to take action. You can start by contacting a shared-space website hosting company to establish web presence. You will also need to purchase your domain name from a registrar like GoDaddy.com or Register.com. Often, hosting companies will allow you one free domain name registration with hosting service activation. Hosting service is typically sold in annual fees of $240.00 to $360.00. Once you have your hosting and domain name registered you can build out the website.
Step 4: Building the Website
Contacting a local website development company is your next step. Working locally with a website developer allows you to meet the person or people that will be responsible for creating your profitable business for you face-to-face. If you feel that your business idea is going to revolutionize the internet world and put Google or PayPal to shame, then you might consider asking your website development company to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This will ensure that the website company won’t steal your idea or share it with any of their other clients. Another good idea is to request a quote before deciding on a website development company. Most will offer this as part of a free consultation to find out your project details. Your website developer will need to know specific things like the goal of your business, types of web pages your site will have, the content that will go on each page and obtain logos, graphics or photos from you.
Step 5: Generating Sales and Customers
After all this is what you want your website to do right? Unfortunately it isn’t easy, don’t expect to wake up tomorrow morning with thousands of pending sales and money flowing into your merchant account. This will take time, dedication, the right promotion techniques and a lot of effort on your part. Nowadays creating a static HTML website isn’t enough to generate sales and customers through your website. Typical internet browsers are becoming more and more used to shopping carts, interactive guides, live chat support, contact forms and quote request forms. These are all great ideas that once combined will create a very solid and trust worthy online business website. Your website development company will be able to set up all of these features for you. If they can’t, find a new website development company fast! If you plan on being more personal with your customers, you might be interested in creating a Blog or Discussion Forum. These are great ways to generate topics and ideas to discuss. This will also develop a loyal community who will continually revisit and shop more on your website.
Step 6: Promotion
Internet promotion is great because it allows you to target your customers without the large budget requirements such as print or television and radio advertisements. The first and foremost internet promotion is Search Engine Optimization. This is the technique of developing quality, accurate and reliable content on your website. Search Engine Optimization also includes, Title, META and ALT Image tags which Search Engine spiders will index allowing you to place higher the keywords you are targeting. Other forms of internet promotion include affiliate programs which allow you to offer commission based payouts to visitors of your website who refer people to your site, PayPerClick (PPC) campaigns which allow you to place in the top one or two spots on a Search Engine results page for a set bid amount, participating in online forums, communities and discussions related to your business’ subject or target audience and writing online articles such as this one which will increase links back to your website.
Step 7: Managing & Maintaining
Managing your customer base and maintaining your website content is just as important as all of the work you put into it in the beginning. Your website development company will be able to offer you website maintenance and update service based on a set monthly fee. Adding new, fresh content to your website is critical in raising your search engine rankings and getting customers to revisit your site frequently. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is available to help you track customers and maintain a lasting relationship. Most systems are web based and can be integrated into your website for you by your web development company. If you prefer to maintain the content on your website by making the updates yourself instead of paying your website developer to do the work, consider a Content Management System (CMS). Content Management Systems typically cost more to set up, but allow you to avoid the monthly maintenance fees.
Author: Matt McWilliam is the successful entrepreneur and owner of MJM Design located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Read more about Matt McWilliam at http://www.MattMcWilliam.com
Visit http://www.ClevelandWebsiteDesign.com for all your website design & development needs.