The start of a new year always brings the excitement of new possibilities and this 2024 may be your year to start a new online venture. With ecommerce solutions like Shopify making online business more accessible, there's never been a better time than 2024 to start your online entrepreneurial journey. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify have made navigating the online business landscape a lot easier, providing aspiring online entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to launch and manage their online stores with ease.
Now the question is, “Where to start?”.
Table of Contents
In this article by Ecommerce Pro, we’re giving you an updated 2024 guide to starting an online business, going down to the basics of where exactly you should begin. We'll guide you through a step-by-step process, from identifying a profitable niche to building a compelling online store, managing your finances, and marketing your business effectively.
So, whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur needing a refresher or a newbie to online business, this guide will help get you started on the road to online business in 2024. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Choose a Niche
The first step to online business is identifying a profitable product niche. While in theory, you can sell anything and everything online, it is best to settle with a specific niche to serve a specific market segment that you can target with your products and services.
To find a good niche, it has to be profitable and should have a sizable market base, without too much competition to give yourself room for potential growth.
You can start by brainstorming ideas on products and services that you feel passionate about. Try to find something with a market demand. You can also conduct market research to analyze the size and growth potential of different niches.
A common niche is baby clothing, and you can narrow it down to a more specific category like baby clothing with fun, theme-based graphic prints for holidays and special occasions.
As this step requires brainstorming, it’s best to list down all your ideas for the next step.
Step 2: Conduct Market Research
Once you’ve finally come up with your list of viable niches, it’s time to conduct some market research to see if your potential niches have the ability to hold up throughout your online business endeavor.
A tool you can use and explore is Google Trends, where you can see how popular your product niche is based on Google user search queries. Online tools, like Google Trends, provide insights into the popularity and longevity of various niches based on keyword searches.
In this step, your research can also include:
- Competitive analysis: Research your competitors to understand their products, prices, marketing strategies, and strengths and weaknesses. Shopify has a great Competitive Analysis Template that you can base your research on.
- Target audience analysis: Identify your target customer profile, including their demographics, interests, and their purchasing habits.
Step 3: Develop a Compelling Business Plan
Every business needs a business plan. It serves as the roadmap that outlines all of your goals, strategies, and financial projections. Shopify offers a great and free Business Plan Template for a complete and effective plan for any new online venture.
An online business plan should include the following:
- Executive Summary: A brief overview of your business, including your mission, vision, and goals.
- Product or Services Offered: A detailed description of what you sell or services you offer.
- Marketing Plan: This details the strategies you’ll be employing to reach your target audience so you can generate sales.
- Financial Projections: A projection of your revenue, expenses, and profits.
Step 4: Work on Branding & Logo
Branding is a powerful aspect of building a business and that’s because it’s branding that makes your brand memorable. Logos and other branding elements are the symbols and colors that represent your business. Just think of some of the world’s most influential brands like Apple, Amazon, and Coca-Cola—their logos and branding characteristics practically spring to mind, and the mere mention of their brand names conjures up a specific image, color, or feeling in the minds of consumers. This is the power of branding, and it’s something you can tap into to build a strong foundation for your online business.
When it comes to creating a logo and other design elements like brand colors, you should keep things simple and limit yourself to a color palette and idea.
To design your online business logo, you can check out Shopify’s Hatchful, a popular choice for logo makers.
Step 5: Source Products or Services
If you’re selling physical products, you need to make sure that you have them on hand or that your suppliers are ready to provide them. Suppliers can be found through online directories and even trade shows.
You can also try dropshipping for an inventory-free business where suppliers handle shipping for you.
When it comes to businesses that are offering services, you should get your process down so that you can deliver your services effectively and with efficiency. For services, you may have to hire staff to outsource tasks.
Read our latest article on How to Write Product Descriptions for Your Online Business
Step 6: Build Your Online Store
Another creative aspect of starting your online store is designing your online storefront using Shopify. The Shopify ecommerce platform is incredibly user-friendly and accessible, making it possible for people without technical expertise to create their online store. Shopify is consistently at the top of the best ecommerce solutions for online business, providing you with all the tools and resources necessary to run an online business, regardless of its size.
Some of the pros of using Shopify include:
- You do not need to have any experience with web design or development.
- Shopify handles many of the technical aspects of your online store, such as hosting, security, and updates.
- You will receive 24/7 customer support for your Shopify store.
- It is easy to create a sophisticated and fully customizable store that matches your brand's aesthetic.
You can explore Shopify with their 3-day free trial, after which you can enjoy 3 months of Shopify for 1 €/month on select plans.
We go into extensive detail on how to build your store on Shopify in our article How to Start an Online Store on Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Step 7: Market Your Business
Marketing your business and drawing in customers to your online store (traffic) is essential to every successful online business and brand. It is essentially the way you get the word out about your business by employing a multifaceted marketing strategy.
With how competitive business can be, it’s best to employ more than one strategy. We list down a few effective marketing strategies below:
- Social media: Choose at least 2 social media platforms where your target audience is most active. From there you can target your ideal customers and share posts to promote your products and services.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your online store’s pages and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) of search engines like Google. SEO helps you gain organic traffic.
- Email marketing: Start an email subscription service where customers can subscribe and receive regular updates and newsletters.
Read about the 15 Best SEO Tools to Boost Your Shopify Website’s Rank.
Step 8: Provide Excellent Customer Service
Your customers are the beating heart of your online business, so make sure you provide great customer support by giving them the means to contact you. Customer support is important and opening more than one support channel is key to helping you address the concerns and questions of customers on the cusp of making a purchase decision.
Here are some additions you can make to your site to ensure great customer service and support:
- Have an FAQ page: Your FAQ page will save you a lot of time in answering customer questions. Take note of the information you feel your customers will need to know, especially on shipping and delivery, and create an FAQ page for your customers.
- Offer live Chat: Offer live chat so you can solve your customers’ problems quickly and easily.
- Phone support: Some customers prefer live calls, especially when dealing with refunds, returns, and other concerns.
Email support: Email support remains a favorite among online shoppers, so make sure to have your email information in an easy-to-find place on your shop and your contact page.
Step 9: Stay On Top of Your Finances
When it comes to business, staying on top of your expenses and finances is essential. You can have a separate business bank account and credit cards to monitor your expenses and income more easily.
Tracking expenses should be detailed and should also be done daily if needed. You should keep detailed records of expenses including invoices, receipts, and other payments with the help of accounting software or Excel to keep track.
By staying on top of your finances, you can make informed decisions that will help your business grow and thrive.
Step 10: Continuously Improve & Be Adaptable
Your online business should be continuously evolving and adapting, so it’s important to be flexible and adapt your business to the latest trends and technologies that will help you improve.
This includes staying up-to-date on the best new marketing channels, tools, and trends that will improve your website and the customer experience.
It’s also important to remember that, as with any other business, online business will present challenges along the way. Just remember to stay adaptable and don’t give up. If you’re passionate about your business and willing to put in the work and effort to improve, you can be successful.
Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout your online endeavor.
- Be patient: It can time to build a successful online business. Put aside the expectation of overnight success.
- Be consistent: Don't give up if you don't see results right away. Be consistent and keep working towards your business goals.
- Be adaptable: Be ready to adapt and change with the constantly changing business landscape. Your strategies and
You can also go over Shopify’s General Checklist for Starting a New Shopify Store before launching a new online business in 2024.
Starting an online business in 2024 can be relatively simple when accompanied by a solid strategy involving steps you can follow along the way. The steps we highlighted here involve choosing a product niche, conducting market research, and a business plan, along with advice on staying adaptable and patient, among other steps.
Choosing an ecommerce platform like Shopify is also highlighted, as Shopify makes the process of building an online business more streamlined, with all the tools and ecommerce capabilities you need to grow your online brand in 2024.
While creating an online business with Shopify can be simple, there are also several reasons why you may want to work with a Shopify Expert like Ecommerce Pro.
Ecommerce Pro can help you take your online business to the next level, while keeping you up to date on the latest ecommerce trends and best practices, ensuring that your website remains competitive and highly effective in the realm of ecommerce.
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