From Business Plan to Web Design – Starting an Online Business

Before you officially “open the doors” of your e-business, you need to create a business plan. Turn your business idea into a plan that will help you succeed (or you may find while going through this process that it is better to scrap the idea and come up with something better).

Putting a business plan together may seem like a daunting task. I will take you step by step through the process of creating a business plan, making the process a little easier for you. Putting a business plan together will include completing a market analysis, a competitive analysis, an advertising plan, pricing, branding, a sales strategy, and much more. This article will go over some of the basics.

You will want to consider marketing, financing, your target market, distribution of your product, finding out who your competition is, etc. In addition to considering these factors, you will want to set realistic goals for your small business.

Ask yourself the following questions: What is the purpose of your e-business? To make money, right? That’s one purpose. What are some others? Perhaps you have created or found a product that the world just can’t live without and you want to share it. Maybe you offer a service that will help others. You might have a hobby that you want to turn into a profession. Write down your purpose, whatever it is.

After you know what your purpose is, answer the following questions:

– Why am I committing my time and resources to this endeavor?

– How will I be helping others?

– What needs will this business meet?

– How will I be helping myself (owner), or ourselves (owners)?

– What “greater good” will be served with this business?

Once you have answered these questions, you can form your company’s mission statement. Your mission statement identifies your company. Keep your mission statement to a few sentences. You can adjust your mission statement as your company grows and changes, but the core values included in your mission statement should remain the same.

What is your Company’s Purpose?

What is the purpose of your e-business? To make money, right? That’s one purpose. What are some others? Perhaps you have created or found a product that the world just can’t live without and you want to share it. Maybe you offer a service that will help others. You might have a hobby that you want to turn into a profession. Write down your purpose, whatever it is.

After you know what your purpose is, answer the following questions:

– Why am I committing my time and resources to this endeavor?

– How will I be helping others?

– What needs will this business meet?

– How will I be helping myself (owner), or ourselves (owners)?

– What “greater good” will be served with this business?

Once you have answered these questions, you can form your company’s mission statement. Your mission statement identifies your company. Keep your mission statement to a few sentences. You can adjust your mission statement as your company grows and changes, but the core values included in your mission statement should remain the same.

Preparing to Launch Your Online Business-Strengths and Weaknesses

As you go through the process of planning your online business, you may not have the answer to every question we ask. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers now, because that is the whole point of doing this plan-to help you find and discover the areas that might sneak up and get you in the future.

Having gone through the process of putting this plan in place, however, you will be better prepared to face unexpected turns and situations. Answer the questions you can and think about the ones you can’t. There are a lot of details that will come together as you go through this process.

Part of making your online business successful is knowing your strengths and your weaknesses, along with the (potential) strengths and weaknesses of your company. What are you good at? What is your company good at?

– What are the strengths of your products? Price? Selection? Variety? Quality? Brand association?

– What are the strengths of you and your partners or team?

– What are your strengths with respect to reaching customers and telling them about your product?

– What are your leadership or organizational strengths?

– What is the vision of your company and how is that a strength?

The answers to the above questions may be the reasons you want to start an online business in the first place. You must also look at your weaknesses. Good business owners strive to identify areas of weakness so they can turn them around and make them areas of strength. It’s better for you to discover weaknesses than your competitors or customers to discover them for you!

– How will the business run from start to finish?

– Do we need to hire people?

– Where will our products come from?

– How will we get the word out about our company?

– Do we have enough money to survive the start-up phase?

– Do we have a good system in place to track orders and make sure our customers are happy?

Preparing to Launch Your Online Business…Make Opportunities & Prepare for Unfortunate Circumstances

Successful online businesses take advantage of opportunities, whether they be changes in customer tastes or preferences, unmet market needs, or market niches that have never been addressed. What opportunities do you see that make you excited about your online business opportunity? Before you start an online business, consider:

– Do you see an unmet need?

– Is this a frustration you have experienced yourself?

– Is there a common feeling that something is missing among people you know or have talked to?

– Have there been changes economically, politically, or otherwise that have set a good stage for your online business?

– Now it’s time to play devil’s advocate and imagine what elements or factors could potentially harm your online business. It is important to identify such things that could adversely affect your business in order to prepare for such circumstances. Preparation is sometimes the best defense. Consider:

How will competition affect you?

Are you able to meet anticipated demand?

What if UPS goes on strike?

Is your business seasonal, and will that adversely affect your cash flow?

If you plan on starting an online business, consider writing down your business description and strategy. By now you know your company’s purpose and your strengths and weaknesses. Use that information as you work out your business strategy.

The key element in your business description is to address how your business will meet the needs of your customers. In other words, how are you uniquely positioned to get your needed product to the right people and make money in the process?

Now let’s discuss the strategy behind your business. Consider:

– What type of business are you (retail, manufacturing, consulting, etc.)?

– Will you need employees?

– Where is your business located?

– What are your hours of operation?

– How do you plan to make money?

– What costs will be involved?

– How much money do you need to start, and how will that money be spent?

Now is the time to tout you and your team. Your confidence, enthusiasm, and vision are incredibly important to the success of your business, and to gain the confidence of investors. They are ultimately investing in YOU, so sell yourself and your team!

Consider:

Who are your team members, managers, or partners? What is their level of education? Do you or they have any experience in similar ventures or businesses? Are you particularly passionate about your products? Why? Who will be in charge of what? Who has final decision-making authority?

Every business can potentially be faced with challenges. What risks might you face in your business, and how will you be prepared to face them? Consider:

Have you in the past, or are you currently facing litigation? Do you have access to an attorney? Do you have adequate insurance coverage for your business? Who is in charge of record keeping, and how are those records stored and protected? Do you use an accountant?

Once you have a plan for your online business, you need a website. When conceiving your website, before you think about colors, pictures, or even format, take into consideration the answers to the questions above and come up with the purpose of your website. That will make your web design process a lot easier.