With more consumers engaging with the digital space and consistently doing more of their shopping online, e-commerce has grown year-on-year for more than a decade. This means that it has never been more important to create and maintain a strong online presence for your business.
Many aspiring business owners find themselves facing a variety of unfamiliar obstacles they must navigate before they can begin trading. Although this might sound like an overwhelming process, it can be broken down into a series of simple steps. There are a variety of services available to help ensure that the road to the creation of your digital presence is as smooth as possible.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps you will need to take when setting up your online business.
1. Write a business plan
Your business plan is likely to be a document that you will refer to frequently for a variety of different reasons. By answering a range of key questions, you will find it easier to measure your success as your business gets off the ground. It also helps to ensure you are consistently making decisions that will propel you further towards reaching your core goals and objectives.
It is important to think carefully about:
- What your target audience looks like
- What your sales forecasts might look like
- Your future plans for your business and how you might achieve those goals
- How much investment your business will need to set up and start running
Creating a comprehensive plan will often pay off in the long run as you’ll have a document you can refer to whenever you need to make an informed decision in the future.
2. Register your company
Registering your company is an important first step that will allow your business to be recognised as a legal entity. This process is simple – to get started, visit the gov.uk website. In addition to being provided with a company registration number, you will also be registered for Corporation Tax. If you prefer, you can also fill out an IN01 form and register your business by post.
There is a small fee to register your business but the good news is that your company will likely be officially registered within 24 hours, meaning you can start to progress through the rest of the steps almost immediately.
3. Register your domain name
Now you have much of your legal and financial framework in place, you can start setting up your digital presence. Your first step should be to select and register your domain name, which should be easily recognisable and closely reflect your brand. Remember, a good domain name will ultimately help you to drive valuable traffic towards your most important digital asset, your website.
Selecting a top level domain (TLD) such as a .com is a popular choice for many new business owners. However, if you only intend to trade in one country, for example, the UK, then a .co.uk may be your best option. If you need some help choosing the right domain name, check out our Tips on choosing a good domain name or Tips on choosing the right extension.
4. Design and create your website
If you have experience designing websites then you might opt to take the DIY route using a website builder. Alternatively, if you don’t want to build it yourself, you could partner with a web developer, design agency or let our very own Build Me A Website team help.
Whichever route you take, it is imperative that your website is secure and responsive. Completing these steps will ensure that your customers’ data will be protected and that your audience can engage with your website regardless no matter which device they are browsing on.
5. Advertise your website
There’s no point investing in an online presence if no one knows it exists! That’s why it’s imperative to implement a comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy and carefully consider your paid marketing options also.
To monitor your success, you should ensure your site has an integrated analytics tool that will help to keep track of a range of metrics including traffic, time spent on site and bounce rate. This information will ultimately help you refine your SEO strategy and ensure that your website is working as hard as possible for your business.
Running paid advertising and social media campaigns can also be an excellent way to market your brand. They are particularly useful as you can target particular demographics and ensure you are visible to your ideal audience.
With plenty of advice available if you need it, setting up your online business should always feel like an exciting prospect, not a daunting one.