8 Steps to Creating a Successful Online Business

08/08/2016 05:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Online businesses can be some of the most profitable enterprises around - with low overheads and staff requirements, the potential to make money is huge. But most online start-ups fail, so how you can you differentiate yourself and make a success? Here are the 8 steps you must follow to begin your business.

1. Have a killer idea

It's not enough to copy something that has already been done, or to create something lackluster. You have to really capture the imagination of your audience, and give them something that they really want - even if they didn't know they wanted it until you came along. If you have a basic idea, work on it and come up with a unique selling point which will make you stand out. Just check out these 3 odd, yet successful online businesses you would have never of thought would be a success, yet they are.

2. Set yourself up

The first thing you will want to do is choose a business name, but before you go telling everyone, make sure the domain name is actually available. If you can't get the domain name your after you'll have to look at alternatives.

Thankfully, new domain extensions are becoming available, so if the .com for your business name is already taken, there are now over 1,000 top level domains available to help you find one to suit your business. For example, if you're an online coffee seller and the domain name yourbusinessname.com is taken, you could register yourbusinessname.coffee instead.

3. Create Your Brand Image

Alongside your new domain, it's time to get set up on social media. Claim the name of your business everywhere you can, even if you don't intend to use them all at once. It's better to have the name reserved to prevent someone else getting hold of it first. You should also create a logo that represents your brand well, a brand colour scheme, and a tone of voice with which you will communicate with your customers.

4. Get Out There

Even if you are still waiting for your website to be built, it's time to get out there on social media. Start following people, putting up previews of what you will sell or what's going on behind the scenes, and generating interest. Respond to comments as much as possible so that people can see you are a keen start-up with lots going on. The more interest you have in your website at launch, the better - you can even start building a mailing list now ready to send out first-day offers.

5. Launch With Fanfare

Don't just quietly open your website and wait for everyone to show up. Shout it from the rooftops! Post about your new site as often as possible on any and all social media. Send out an email to your mailing list, and remember to copy in friends and family who would be interested. You can even get in touch with local newspapers or websites in your niche to ask them to feature your launch. Get the news out in any way that you can.

6. Find Influencers

One of the biggest keys to success in the online sphere is the support of influencers. These are people with large social followings and whose recommendation is enough to drive huge sales. You may have to pay them or offer them a lot of free gifts, but it's worthwhile to get someone on board. Ask them to post as much as possible about your brand to drive those visitors over to your site.

7. Stay Solid

If you have prepared properly, you shouldn't have a problem with the launch. Your servers should be sturdy enough to handle large amounts of traffic, and every element of your website should have been checked to ensure it works properly under pressure. You should also be able to respond to emails and social media comments in a timely manner to ensure that you don't lose sales.

8. Analyse and Repeat

What is your best-selling product, and how can you create new lines in a similar vein? Which social network is giving you the most referrals, and how can you leverage that further? What kinds of posts have been your most popular, and how can you create more like them? Never rest on your laurels, and constantly test what you are doing. The key to success is growing and always working as hard as you did at the launch. The instant you sit back and relax, you could find your leads dwindling and interest waning.

It's definitely not easy to create a successful online business, but it can be done with a lot of perseverance and just the right amount of luck. Good planning is something that you can't put a value on, so be sure to follow these steps and have a strong business model in place before you begin.