Starting an Online Business

Consumer habits have changed dramatically. By 2020, some experts predict that 90% of transactions will take place online or be internet-influenced

Many businesses have long used their websites to generate additional revenue, yet in recent years there has also been significant growth in businesses that start up exclusively online, which can involve less risk, cost and effort.

Creating an online business

As with any small business, the first steps to starting to trade online involves conducting market research to identify your target market, assess demand, competition and reaction to your prices from potential customers. You also need to produce a business plan.

If sales are likely to exceed the annual threshold (£85,000 in 2017/18), you must become VAT-registered. You’ll also need to pay tax, in accordance with your status as a sole trader, limited company, etc. Online traders must also observe data protection legislation, of course, when storing important information about customers.

Marketing will largely determine your business website’s success and search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial to this. Basically, it means using words on your website that ensure high placing in lists on search engine (eg Google) results pages. You could also use paid-for advertising services such as Google Adwords, for which you’re charged on a pay-per-click basis.

Getting your site up and running

You must decide whether to create your own business website or get someone else to do it for you. Doing it yourself can save money, but the results might not be great. Another option is to use one of the many online marketplaces to sell your goods such as Amazon, ebay, notonthehighstreet and etsy. These online platforms can allow you to bring your goods to, and test, the market for your goods before committing to a fully-fledged ecommerce site.

If you decide that setting up your own online shop is the way forward, there are many ready-made online solutions that allow people with little experience to create their own website.


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