An in-depth guide to starting an online business

How to start a business online header image by Canva

The internet has transformed how we do business. Anyone with a laptop, an internet connection and a great idea can start a business online. 

But it’s not as simple as creating a website and registering your business. If you want to boost your chances of having a successful online business, you need to follow a strategic approach.

This involves validating your business idea before spending a penny, preparing a thorough go-to-market strategy, designing, building and optimising your website and creating captivating content to drive traffic to your business. 

With the right strategy, you can reach a vast audience and generate a lot of revenue. Consider the possibilities: In 2019, 87% of people made an online purchase in the UK and by the end of 2021, 30.2% of retail sales took place online. Since the Coronavirus crisis, that number has shot up to 30%.

Graph showing internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales
Source: ons.gov.uk

Online business is growing, which is good news for entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll dive into how to successfully start an online business, how to choose a winning business idea, the most popular online business ideas and the benefits of running an online business.

Table of contents:

How to successfully start an online business

Starting a business from scratch can seem daunting. If you know where to begin though, the process is fairly straightforward. Here are six steps to help you get started. 

1. Do your market research

First, make sure there’s a market for what you’re selling. Save time and resources by researching your potential customer base before you go all-in on starting a business. We’ll go into more detail on what to look for when building an online business in the next section. But here are a few tips on how to conduct market research around your idea:

  • Research keywords. Find questions people are asking online and look for keywords they use that don’t have a lot of competition. This will help you recognise existing needs.
  • Evaluate your market size. Going after too broad or too narrow a market can be a barrier. If you try to sell to everyone, you’ll have a hard time pinning down what problem your product solves. On the flip side, if your idea targets a pain point that only applies to a small demographic, you may not have enough prospective buyers to keep you in business. 
  • Check out your competitors. Look at others’ websites and see how they’re solving customers’ concerns. Make sure you can offer similar solutions. Also, take note of what makes your business stand out from your competitors. This will inform your unique selling proposition.

Top Tip: As with a brick and mortar business, it’s important to ensure your online business idea fills a need, solves a problem and is in demand. To learn how to get there, check out our guide to conducting market research for your business idea 📌

2. Create a business plan 

Writing up a thorough plan will help you stay organised as you build your business. Prepare for a successful launch by defining your product or service and outlining how you plan to roll it out. Include your projected expenses and earnings to get a sense of your financial needs. 

Having a solid plan in writing will give you a roadmap to follow. Put in the time now to eliminate a lot of guesswork as you launch. 

Top Tip: A business plan will help you keep your focus as you weather the highs and lows of starting a business. Learn everything you need to know in our complete guide to creating a business plan 💡

3. Register your online business

Before you can officially launch, you need to register your business. This step makes your business a legitimate venture and authenticates your offerings. Decide how you’ll structure your business, and register it with HMRC and Companies House as needed. 

Registering is an important step when it comes to handling your business finances. When you register your company with Tide, you immediately get a free business bank account, which helps you to separate personal and business finances and keep a pulse on your overall financial health. 

Top Tip: Ready to get your certificate of incorporation within hours? Read our guide on how to register your business in the UK 🌟

4. Get your finances in order

Your business plan should give you a good idea of your financial needs. Once you’ve registered your business, you’ll also need to understand more about how taxes will affect you and which ones you need to be prepared for.

Top Tip: There are several types of taxes that apply to small businesses in the UK. Learn which ones apply to you and how and when to pay them in our guide to small business tax 💥

Consider opening a business bank account. A dedicated account lets you track all your business transactions, including expenses and income, in a single place. And features like Tide’s integrated invoicing will make staying on top of your finances even more seamless.

It may also make sense for you to work on building your business credit in case you need to borrow money for future expansion. You can start by opening a business line of credit or getting a business credit card for expenses.

Quick note: Not having access to any funding or capital doesn’t mean you can’t start a business. Learn about your options in our guide on how to start a business without capital 💷

If you want to guarantee you’re doing everything in your power to stay above board and pay taxes correctly, you might want to work with a small business accountant

Top Tip: If you’re unsure of how to keep track of your small business accounting, you can familiarise yourself by reading our beginner’s guide to small business accounting 📚 

5. Build a business website

An online business needs a good business website. Getting one set up doesn’t have to be a chore, but it does require some thoughtful planning. There are lots of web hosting services and useful website builders out there that include ready-to-use templates to get you started. 

Here are some tips for creating a site that captures users’ attention and supports your selling model.

Make it engaging

Users will only stay on your site if they find it engaging and useful. That means writing copy that describes exactly what your product or service is and how it helps customers solve problems. Talk about the benefits, add testimonials (if applicable) and include CTAs so customers have a sense of how you can help them. 

Also, make sure to optimise your website with captivating graphics and video, but be wary of load times. Studies show that 53% of mobile users will leave your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load

Finally, make sure potential customers can find you online. The UK domain is a great resource for learning search engine optimisation (SEO) tips and tricks when launching a new business website. 

Make it functional

If you plan to sell physical or digital products online, you’ll want an e-commerce platform. Choose one that’s designed to help you set up a shopfront and manage your orders and inventory. Do you need a shopping cart feature? Payment processing functionality? Do your research and find out which platforms will serve your needs and fit your budget.

Top Tip: There are dozens of viable e-commerce platforms out there to choose from. Learn about some of the top options for getting started in our guide to starting an e-commerce business ⚡️

6. Market your new online business

Once you launch your business, the next step is to work hard to build a reputation and boost brand awareness. You want to establish yourself as an expert in your field so people have confidence in your offerings. That means providing valuable content and engaging with potential customers.

There are plenty of ways to get your name out there and draw people in, including: 

  • Becoming a regular blogger, publishing on your own site
  • Guest posting on other sites
  • Attending networking events 
  • Joining relevant online conversations through social media accounts
  • Creating a newsletter 
  • Using email marketing campaigns to attract more leads
  • Creating an incentive program to generate more email list sign-ups and conversions 

Top Tip: Integrating social media into your marketing is especially important with an online business. Learn best practices by reading our guide to creating a social media marketing strategy 💻

Once you have customers, create more income by focusing on reselling or upselling. Your existing customers can also be a great resource for finding new business. Ask for referrals. Check in to learn about your existing customers’ experiences. Consistently update your customer personas to ensure that the way you promote your business resonates with your target audience.

What makes a good online business idea?

Now that you know what it takes to build an online business, let’s look at how to get started with the right idea. The recipe for a successful online business idea is similar to the steps you would follow when choosing any business idea. 

At the top of the list is making sure your idea is something that people actually need and will buy. Even the most creative, inspired ideas won’t work if there’s limited audience buy-in. 

Here are four steps you can follow to help validate your idea before going all-in:

1. Learn from other people’s successes (and failures) 

Your best resources are people’s previous experiences. Find them, study them and figure out what other people did well and where they fell flat. 

The worst mistake that you can make is falling in love with your idea and bringing it to market before validating it. No matter how excited you are with your creation, if people don’t have a need for it, you won’t make enough money to survive. The most successful people understand this and conduct thorough research on a variety of ideas before moving forward. 

You can find an abundance of insights, interviews and data online about how successful businesses got their start. Reference them to learn about what they would and wouldn’t do differently if they were to start again as well as general advice for budding entrepreneurs.

For example, Nicholas Woodman, the founder and CEO of GoPro, failed big before striking gold. His first failed venture was a website called EmpowerAll.com, where he planned to sell marked-up electronic goods. The site didn’t even launch.

Next up, he raised $3.9 million to launch Funbug, a gaming and marketing platform where users could win cash prizes. But, the dot com bubble burst, claiming his company and all the investment he raised. Shortly after, he took a surfing trip and became inspired to capture swells in action from a first-person POV. After borrowing some money and putting in two years of hard work, he launched his first product and it was an immediate success.

Screenshot of the GoPro website

Still, Woodman hit bumps in the road and quickly realised he needed to slow down and restructure his leadership style. He also adopted a more programmatic growth effort, focusing on both short-term and long-term goals, rather than trying to outperform himself at every turn. 

This is just one of many stories that can teach you useful information. Take advantage of this knowledge base and learn as much as you can before committing to an idea.

2. Identify whether your idea solves a problem (and if there is a need for it)

Most businesses are formed in response to a growing problem.

Often, it’s a problem entrepreneurs experience in their own lives, and they start their business because nobody else has successfully solved the problem yet. Before you move forward, make sure that other people share the problem you’re tackling and also want a solution that fixes it. 

For example, UK company Seenit, founded by Emily Forbes, launched the world’s first video crowdsourcing platform. The idea is to help businesses crowdsource and edit user-generated content.

This solution solves the problem of needing to hire and pay a film crew to capture moments. It also helps large-scale or remote companies stay more connected through collaborative storytelling. 

Screenshot of the Seenit website

As people can document events from their phones like never before, Seenit has devised a whole new way to engage audiences and involve communities. It helps businesses stay relevant, save money, create more authentic video content and capture thousands more unique camera shots than a small crew could pull off.

Other businesses are formed by transforming a passion into a business-savvy venture. As long as you take a smart approach, there’s no reason you can’t capitalise on your existing skillset and interests.

This means refocusing your mindset to uncover ways to successfully monetise your passion. If you enjoy drawing, for example, you could consider learning graphic design tools and starting a graphic design business. 

If there is a gap in the market and you can identify use cases where people transformed passions or needs into successful businesses, you’re off to a good start.

Register your company for free with Tide

register your business

Take a peek at what businesses are performing well and what businesses aren’t gaining traction. Also, research topics that are trending to uncover what the public is talking about, looking for, happy with, disappointed by and so on.

You can do this through a variety of free and paid online tools. Google Trends, Twitter, Social Mention and Reddit are some of the most popular platforms to dig deep into market insights, trending topics, stories and influencer data. You can also hop on social sites like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to search topics and identify trends, needs, pain points and successes.

If you’re considering starting a freelance graphic design or freelance blogging business, for example, see what other freelancers in those sectors are doing well or poorly. Analyse how they market themselves, their skillset and client base to further form your approach.

The information that you need to decipher if your idea has a fighting chance is out there. Put in the work, read tons of content and analyse various trends and data to pinpoint which idea has the biggest chance of success. 

4. Join the conversation (and share unique content)

After uncovering who talks about your idea and where they talk about, it’s time to join the conversation.

This is the most reliable way to validate your business idea. Why? Because the people in these groups and spaces may become your potential customers, it’s important to understand exactly what they want and need before attempting to market and sell to them.

Understanding your target audience is key to how you will position yourself in the market. This research will help you choose your branding and promotion strategy as well as your suite of products and services. 

As a starting point, you should learn about your audience’s: 

  • Desires 
  • Demographics 
  • Average income
  • Expectations 
  • Needs

You should also take a look at current products or services people have bought into. Research what those products or services do well and any gaps in existing solutions.

This information will fuel your go-to-market strategy. No matter how hard you work on creating a superior product or service, it will mean nothing if you don’t have a strategic online marketing strategy.

You can take strategic steps as a small business owner to avoid worrying about acquiring new customers. How? By creating and sharing content about your business idea as part of your ongoing conversations.

See if your content resonates with your audience and if they want to learn more. This is a great way to build out your unique value proposition (UVP) as well as amass a following before you spend valuable time and money creating your product or service.

Top Tip: Building a strong brand is the key to attracting and retaining customers and turning them into advocates. Learn how to keep customers happy and grow your business with our guide to building a brand customers love 💯

The online business market is saturated, which means more competition, but also more opportunities.

There are plenty of paths to go down. You can run a one-person show, a mid-sized agency or a full-scale e-commerce business. Each path can be fruitful and profitable. 

The right path for you primarily depends on your goals, personality traits and aspirations. Here are some of the top opportunities out there right now:

E-commerce

The UK has the most advanced e-commerce market in all of Europe and the third-largest e-commerce market in the world.

Graph showing global ecommerce markets
Source: growcode.com

As there are thousands of e-commerce stores in the UK, you will have to work extra hard to stand out. 

There are plenty of platforms to choose from when setting up an online store. You can create your own website and add an e-commerce plugin to take payments, like WooCommerce for WordPress, or sell products on a third-party site like Shopify, Amazon, eBay or Etsy. 

You can also take a combined approach by creating your own website to take payments as well as marketing on a third-party platform. This is a strategic way to drive traffic to your site by selling your items on popular marketplaces.

While many people may simply purchase directly from a site like Amazon, many others will want to conduct research into your brand by visiting your site and reading your story before making a purchase.  

An independent survey shows that 86% of people in the UK shop on Amazon. But, when starting their product search, 48.1% will look on Google first compared to 23.6% that go straight to Amazon.

Product searches by platform
Source: shopblocks.com

It’s important to have your own site to grab the attention of people searching on Google.

The two most popular types of products or services to sell online

  • Niche: These products or services fit a specific customer base, are often hand made or one of a kind, and incredibly popular if done right. That’s because they are usually made in small batches and thus consistently in high demand. For example, hand made bandanas for dogs are a niche product that can attract a unique and loyal lifetime customer base. 

  • Commoditised: These products or services are used and needed by a majority of people, therefore they’re highly popular. For example, big brand name phone cases are a commoditised item because most people have smartphones and require cases to protect them. 

Most online store owners sell a variety of both types. Commoditised products help get customers in the digital door and niche products are unique to your business and thus boost your brand presence and positioning. 

Selling niche products or services to a unique audience can help you amass a passionate following that will rave about your product with friends and family. In the long run, this tactic is more valuable and may help you scale faster than starting off by trying to sell an already popular product or idea to a broad audience. 

Plus, if you only offer commoditised products, you will be competing against powerhouses like Amazon. A better strategy is to treat companies like Amazon as a friend rather than a competitor and use their platforms to help scale your business. 

Planning your e-commerce business

If you’re planning to sell goods online, it helps to be aware of market demand. In the UK, clothes and sports goods are the most popular online purchase, followed by household goods, holiday accommodation and travel arrangements and tickets for events.

Graph illustrating online sales by sector
Source: europa.eu

After you’ve decided what you want to sell online, you have to decide where you will source your products from

Do you want to make and ship the products yourself? Or, would you prefer to outsource the manufacturing and shipping via a wholesale or drop shipping method?

Each option has its benefits and drawbacks and it entirely depends on how hands-on you want to be in the production process. 

Make products yourself

Naturally, making everything yourself gives you full control, but can cost you tons of time and money in production, storing, shipping and labour. 

On the flip side, you may save more money upfront because you won’t need to make a large purchase order from a manufacturer. If you’re planning to grow, however, consider that you may need to shift your business plan to allow for scalability. 

Manufacture

If you choose to have a manufacturer make your products, do you want to source domestically or from overseas? 

Domestic manufacturers are often more expensive, making overseas manufacturing a popular and common choice. If you’ve validated your product and are positive that there is a market, you may be better off placing a large order from a manufacturer to start, either locally or abroad. 

In both situations, the upfront expenses for your business are larger, but your margins will be higher because of the lower cost per unit. 

Wholesale 

Wholesale is the most straightforward process because you are buying products directly from a manufacturer or middleman. The idea is to buy at a lower price and sell at a higher price, thus increasing your profit margins.

You accrue less risk when buying wholesale because the product you are buying is already validated. Rather than curating a creative or unique idea yourself, you can make money off of somebody else’s idea. This makes perfect sense for some people but may not be rewarding for others.

However, choosing to wholesale can be risky because you are often selling a commoditised product in a highly competitive setting. You’ll need to get creative with how you differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. 

Dropship

Drop shipping is similar to wholesale, but you never touch the product. Rather, you take orders online, forward them to your supplier or dropship partner, and then they ship them to your customer.

Like wholesale, these products are somebody else’s validated idea and your business acts as a key player in the fulfilment cycle. You make money by charging more to your customers than your drop shipping partners charge to you for sourcing and shipping the product.

A huge benefit is that you don’t need to purchase or manage inventory. You can also sell a variety of products as they are easy to source. It also has the lowest startup costs. 

However, the competition is fierce, you have relatively low margin opportunities and because you rely on 3rd party manufacturers, you may experience backorders from time to time. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction that reflects badly on your business.

Launching your e-commerce business

Before launching your website, make sure you understand both the local and international laws regarding running an e-commerce business. In the UK, you must adhere to the legal rules laid out in the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002.

In most of the aforementioned options, you will need a professionally created website, hosting, a team to help you run it, vendors, licences, permits, etc. 

Top Tip: When launching an online business, make sure you follow best practices things like finding a great business name, branding assets and optimising your website. Read about each of these steps and more in detail in our guide to launching an e-commerce business in the UK 💭

Freelancing

Not every successful online business is in the e-commerce sector. In fact, there are over 2 million freelancers in the UK that contribute £125 billion to the economy.

Freelancers are a highly valuable part of the project economy. According to the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE), freelancers give businesses the chance to enlist flexible expertise beyond their in-house employee talent. This can boost innovation and help companies navigate periods of understaffing or sudden increases in product or service demand. 

The most popular freelance careers are sales and marketing, business support, web design and graphic design, writing and translation, video, photo and audio, website development and website design, software and mobile development and social media: 

Working for yourself, by yourself, can lend to highly productive output. It’s also incredibly rewarding and you can even make more money while working fewer hours than in a traditional setting.

According to a report by MoneySuperMarket, freelancers work an average of 27 hours a week. They also reported that flexible working hours, being your own boss and flexibility of project choice are the main reasons people enjoy freelancing.

However, freelancing can get lonely and inconsistent cash flow can be a challenge. In order to stay in the zone and draw energy from other freelancers and entrepreneurs, consider working from a coworking space or café every once in a while. And, make sure you are scheduling routine social activities with your friends and family and are looking after your mental health.

Also, freelancers often trade skills or hire one another to help each other out. Attend networking events to socialise with other freelancers and business owners to form these mutually-beneficial relationships and business partnerships.

For example, a writer may help a developer by writing the copy for their website, and the developer can return the favour by creating a custom website for the writer. These relationships can be invaluable to a freelancer, especially one that’s on a budget.

Ultimately, freelancing is a low-cost way to get your name out there and build a business without taking a huge risk. Best practice is to create a website to showcase your skillset and offerings.

You can either create your own website for cheap by using a platform like WordPress or Squarespace, pay a developer to create a custom website for you, or use a third-party platform like Upwork to create a basic profile and instantly apply for jobs. 

Top Tip: To learn more about how to stay productive, active and healthy to boost your chances of success, read our complete guide on how to work for yourself 🎨

Digital marketing and advertising

Knowing how to make brands stand out from the crowd, either through organic or paid methods, is crucial to online business success. Doing this for yourself is key, but if you are especially skilled at it, you can make money doing it for other businesses.

According to Hubspot, 69% of marketers invested in SEO in 2021 compared to 64% in 2020. Furthermore, 75% of marketers feel that their SEO tactics are very or extremely effective at helping them to achieve their marketing goals.

Digital marketing and advertising agencies and/or freelancers are always in demand. Why? Because even if a business has an in-house team, that team only works with that specific business’s brand. 

While that gives the in-house team a vast advantage in terms of brand awareness, customer pain points and products and services, it makes it more difficult for them to step back and take a broader industry perspective.

Agencies and freelancers, on the other hand, work with multiple brands at once. They are intimately familiar with the market landscape and can take a high-level approach to evaluating a business’s marketing and advertising strategies. This helps them to easily identify areas of improvement and opportunities to optimise efforts.

A few popular digital marketing and advertising roles are:

  • SEO specialist: SEO specialists have a deep understanding of the best practices and tools to help drive more traffic to a value proposition. Whether through website optimisation, link building, keyword research or creating engaging content, they understand how to help businesses expand their online presence, generate more leads and boost conversions. 

  • Social media marketers: If you understand how to leverage social media to generate brand awareness, inspire loyalty and help brands scale, then social media marketing is for you. Globally, there are more than 3 billion active social media users (more than half of the world’s population) who spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes on social each day. Businesses know this, meaning they are often willing to put a chunk of their budget toward creating engaging social media content and advertisements. 

  • Ad management and PPC: Programmatic advertising is helping businesses target niche audiences based on their online behaviour. If you have the skills to capitalise on this by helping businesses strategically advertise online, you could easily reap the benefits. 

The digital advertising and marketing industry will continue to skyrocket as technology expands and people spend even more time interacting online. It’s a great sector to build an online business in and, done right, can lead to enormous rewards.

Business coaching and consulting

If you have significant expertise in the business sector, you can make money online by offering business consulting services. Companies often turn to business consultants to help to improve operational and performance efficiency, meet their goals and identify opportunities for improvement.

If you have a knack for being able to dig deep into an existing operation and pinpoint specific areas of improvement, then your advice and opinions will be invaluable to many businesses.

Additionally, there are many people just like you that are trying to start or grow an online business. Coaching people through this process is a highly sought after skill, as many people need some help getting their idea off the ground, validating it and bringing it to market.

While this guide is highly informative, it won’t be there to hold your hand through every step of the process. Business coaches are there at every turn offering advice, insights and expert guidance to help you jumpstart your business and strategically plan for growth.

Webinars and online courses

Paid webinars and online courses are a great way to launch your online business dreams. 

You don’t necessarily need your own product or ideas—you simply need to be better at explaining how something works than others. You can run a webinar or create an online course on a physical product, a service like a SaaS platform or an idea like content marketing.

The more comprehensive your course and information, the better. People will pay good money to learn something new or enhance existing skills. In fact, business founders and entrepreneurs often watch online courses and webinars to level-up their skillset and broaden their knowledge base.

First, pick a topic that you have expertise in and interests you. You have to be passionate about it or else you’ll end up resenting how much time you’re spending researching, talking and creating ongoing content for your audience. 

Then, like every other good business idea, make sure there’s a need for your content. Are people asking questions about it? Do people struggle to understand it? What courses or webinars exist already and what gaps can you fill?

Intercom, an interactive customer service business messenger platform, have made webinars a top priority. They run weekly webinars which help to increase customer lifetime value (CTV), convert customers from trial to paid subscribers and boost targeted brand outreach. 

Screenshot of Intercom's webinar library

From live Ask me Anything (AMA) forums to discussions with industry experts, they are able to simultaneously relay valuable information while boosting brand authority via conversations with industry leaders. 

Intersperse your courses and webinars with various types of media. For example, you can include:

  • Presentations
  • Graphics
  • Videos
  • Community learning areas
  • Reading content
  • Activities
  • Panel discussions
  • Interviews 

The more interactive and interesting, the more engaging and successful your courses and webinars will be. 

Finally, sell your course by telling the customer exactly what they will learn in it. Give them measurable outcomes so that they can quantify the value they’ll get from paying for it. To hook your audience, try releasing a short video that explains what they’ll learn in the course. Or, publish the first chapter for free and allow your audience to determine if it’s worth paying for the rest of the modules.

The best part about webinars is that if they are evergreen, people will continue to buy them over a long period of time. This can help you generate a consistent stream of passive income that boosts your business revenue and adds stability to your career. 

Create a SaaS product

SaaS (software as a service) tools help businesses become more accessible and versatile. Many of them help to automate tasks, freeing up valuable time and resources. Others help businesses stay organised, remote-friendly, streamline processes and offer more user-friendly products and services.

These are the top 10 current SaaS industry trends:

Illustration outlining top SaaS trends for 2022

If you’re a developer or can partner up with one, there is ample opportunity to make a new product, level-up an existing product, or make a cheaper version of a successful product. 

Regardless of which sector you decide to start a SaaS business in, it’s imperative that it solves a problem. SaaS tools thrive when they make customers’ lives easier. If there isn’t a need, your product or service won’t sell.

You should also aim to find a product or service that people will be willing to pay for on an ongoing basis, like an online security platform or a tool that collates API connection information into an easily navigable spreadsheet. 

The SaaS industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The global SaaS market reached a value of US 144.17 Billion in 2021 and is forecast to hit US 703.19 billion in 2030.

If you have a great idea and the tools to bring it to life, now is a great time to get involved.

What are the benefits of running an online business?

Running an online business is an exciting endeavour. It gives you the chance to choose how, where and what you spend your time on during the day. 

Best of all, you get to make your own business decisions. From how to spend your budget, to your preferred tools and avenues for marketing and branding to whom you partner with and what clients you take on. 

Before Coronavirus, remote-work was already on the rise and Founders/C level executives made up 55% of all remote workers. As COVID-19 has further shifted the landscape from physical to remote offices, working remotely may become the new normal.

Moreover, half of the global population says they will not return to shops for some time even with the ease of lockdown restrictions, meaning online businesses will continue to be in high demand. 

As your own boss of an online business, you gain a variety of benefits:

  • Remote work opportunities. When you run an online business, you can work from wherever you’d like. This flexibility gives you the freedom to choose how you structure your day and what you spend your time doing. Additionally, the UK 2020 State of Remote Work reports that 74% of people feel more productive when working remotely. It’s the perfect environment to brainstorm, build and nurture your idea.

  • Independence. Working for yourself allows you to broaden your skill-set and expand your knowledge base. Many business owners take online courses, participate in webinars and earn new certifications to help them strategically scale their business. As you don’t need to take direction from a boss, every decision is your own. This is incredibly empowering and gives you a chance to step into your own authority.

  • Financial gain. Choosing how many clients to take on, how and when to scale, what you spend your business budget on and how much you pay yourself is freeing. If you work hard, you can make more money than you ever have before. It won’t happen overnight and there is no guarantee, but if you persevere, you may reach your financial goals. Further, if you work from home, you can claim some of your bills on your taxes. These small business tax breaks can help you save money that you can put back into your business to boost your growth potential.

  • Opportunity for growth. Being your own boss changes you. You may overcome challenges and push yourself harder than ever before, leading to personal and professional development. By proving that your business idea and unique value proposition are well-received by the market, you can strengthen your social authority. Even if your first idea doesn’t pan out in the long run, you’ll have established a strong network of like-minded professionals willing to listen or invest in your next business venture.

  • Control. The best part about making your own decisions is learning how to be a great boss. You can glean insights from past role models in your own life, or conversely, commit to being a better leader than negative bosses from your past. The most effective leaders learn the importance of listening and the power of creating a positive workplace culture that motivates their team to work together towards a common goal.

Wrapping up

There are a lot of upsides to running your own online business. Of course, with these added benefits come added pressures. Making your own decisions means the repercussions of these choices fall entirely on you. And if you can’t keep revenue flowing in, you may not be able to survive.

With proper planning and forecasting, you can boost your chances of success. Starting a new online business is always a gamble, but when it’s done right, the rewards far outweigh the risks.

Stick to the basic steps for getting up and running, including validating your idea with market research and choosing the type of online business that best suits your personality. Do you want to work alone or grow into a large scale company? Do you enjoy managing others and forming several business partnerships, or would you rather only talk with clients?

Once you decide on the sector and product or service, create a stunning website and optimise it for SEO. Strategically promote and market your business, products and services in a way that generates demand and drives customers to your website.

Finally, make sure you follow local laws and regulations to ensure your business is above board. Keep an eye on your finances and consult with an accountant need be. And consistently analyse your business model and target market to guarantee you’re up to date with the latest trends and needs.

If you follow this step-by-step process, you’ll increase your chances of launching a thriving online business and reap the benefits of working for yourself.

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Photo by Canva, published on Unsplash

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

Tide Team

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