Are you one of the many people who have made starting their own business one of their New Year’s resolutions? Many people have ideas that they’ve been slowly incubating for years, and with eCommerce and small online businesses more popular than ever before, there’s no time like the present to get going and start the project you’ve always wanted to. Running your own business online has many benefits, from being your own boss to working from home and spending more quality time with your family. But before you can reap the rewards, you’ll need to make sure your venture is a success – so here’s our guide to doing it right.

Think it through

business ideaWith software and services widely available that will do all the hard work for you, these days it’s relatively easy to set up a website and run a business online. Because of this, you’ll find that there are plenty of websites out there offering pretty much every service or product that you can think of. But that doesn’t mean you should give up – you just need to spend some time developing your idea and making sure it’s something that people will want to buy. Do lots of market research, finding out who your competitors would be and what they charge. Ask yourself: how can I make my product or service stand out from the rest? What is it about my product or service that means customers should choose it over the others? You’ll need to make sure that your website and any marketing covers these points. Got a totally unique idea? Do some research with your target market to ensure it’s something that people really want – and something that they are prepared to part with hard-earned cash for.

Build your online home

Because of the relatively low start up fees and lack of expenses such as rent, the vast majority of new small businesses begin online. And while that makes your life a little easier, you’ll need to make sure you create a website for your project that’s professional and unique enough to impress potential customers. Companies like 1&1 specialise in helping small businesses to create quality websites that will get them noticed online. If you just want to direct sales to an address or telephone line, you can create a simple landing page for your customers. Or, if you want all your sales to be online, you can build a full eCommerce site that customers can use to purchase goods direct from your store. Websites can also be used to display galleries of photos, collect information from potential customers and even to showcase video and animation relating to your product. With a helpful hosting service and some expert assistance, anyone can build an online home their business can be proud of.

Get great content

contentWith so many different websites out there, creating one that stands out from the competition can be a difficult task. Large companies manage this by employing the most talented designers, copywriters and SEO marketers around to create beautiful sites that generate thousands of hits every day. So how can the small business owner compete? It’s definitely worth checking out sites like Fiverr – an online skills marketplace that allows individuals to employ the services of media and marketing professionals for an affordable rate. Once you have the basic outline of your website, you can use Fiverr to get great graphics, eye-catching animations or search engine optimised content – all guaranteed ways to push your business to the top of its game. All of these services can help to give your website a professional, polished look, which in turn will build consumer confidence in your business and help to drive up sales.

Get promoting

Now you’ve got a fantastic online home for your business, it’s time to make sure everyone knows about it! Many new business owners rely on traditional promotional methods such as local advertisements and press releases, but it’s definitely worth exploring the digital world too. Build social media profiles for your business that link back to your website, and encourage people to share your content by offering perks and rewards. Popular techniques are to enter anyone who ‘Likes’ your Facebook page into a prize draw, or picking a Twitter follower at random to receive a special treat. If you have the funds, you can also look into using targeted online marketing through companies like Google who will ensure that your advertisements reach the right audiences.