To compete in the highly competitive business landscape in South Africa, you need a professional website. A well-designed, functional and accessible website can turn your business idea into a reality or take your existing business to the next level. Potential customers spend a considerable amount of time on the internet every day – behind computer screens, smartphones, or tablets. For your online business to succeed, you need to capture customers’ attention by having a strong online presence.

Having a functioning e-commerce website enhances your business in the following ways:

Accessibility:

Your business will be accessible to your customers 24/7 and from anywhere in the world.

Credibility:

A well-designed website makes a good impression on potential customers and investors because it shows that you are a legitimate business. 

Connect with customers:

Having a strong online presence not only allows you to connect and engage with your customers. It also presents endless opportunities to acquire new customers.  

Build your brand 

Being online helps you generate awareness about your business by highlighting your services and the things that set you apart from the competition. 

Get more sales 

Ultimately, you’re running a business and your efforts need to lead to making successful sales. The backbone of e-commerce businesses is a fully-integrated online store. We’ll take you through the process of starting your own online store.   

 

How To Start An Online Business In 2021 

It may seem like a difficult undertaking, but starting an online business can be a simple process. Investing time doing it yourself is not only cost-effective but allows you to know the ins and outs of your business from the ground up. 

We’ve broken down the process of starting a business into three simple steps to make it less intimidating: 

Step 1: Have a business plan 

A business plan acts as a roadmap for your business that helps guide your decision-making. Although it does act as a guide for your business, a business plan should also be flexible. Things change abruptly in business, especially in the online space and you should be able to adjust and move accordingly.  

There is an abundance of free business plan templates available for you to use. Here is a checklist of what your business plan should entail: 

✓ Executive summary

An executive summary is an overview of your business. Investors make decisions about your business based.

✓ Your business idea and nature of your business

Provide a short description of your business, what you sell, or the service you offer. This part also includes competitor analysis, business goals, and your key selling points. 

✓ Your marketing strategy

Have a cohesive plan on how you plan on reaching customers and market your products. Include your target market demographics, brand positioning, and brand messaging. 

✓ Operations

Your business operations refer to everything your business needs to run smoothly and make a profit.

✓ Financial information 

Document everything in detail, from cash flow to sales predictions, as well as costs. If you seek funding, then your business finances will be under scrutiny.

Review your business plan and seek a second independent pair of eyes to go through your business plan. Consult an impartial party that can give constructive criticism and points you in the right direction. Consider seeking the services of an accountant, business advisor, or mentor.

 

Step 2: Build your website 

Once you have your business plan mapped out, it’s time to work on building your website. Your website is your virtual storefront and will be the first point of contact your customers have with your business. 

Register a domain:

Your domain is your business address and deciding on a business name or domain can be tricky. Use these helpful tips to point you to the right domain name:

  • Keep it short, shorter names are more memorable
  • Ensure it is easy to pronounce
  • Avoid numbers, hyphens, or weird characters 
  • Leave room for expansion

When you’ve picked out your business name and are ready to register the domain, use 1-grid domain registration and own it.

Get a web hosting package:

Web hosting allows your website to be live on the internet. We feature a variety of shared hosting packages for small businesses and dedicated hosting for larger corporations. Shared hosting is perfect for small businesses, and our packages start from as little as R99 a month.

Build your website:

A website builder is a robust tool for small businesses because it allows you to build a website in under 10 minutes. Most web builders feature a user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality that requires no coding skills. 

1-grid’s E-commerce Store Builder has all the features you love from a web builder, mixed with fully integrated e-commerce capabilities. It allows you to build your website, manage your store from various devices and safely accept payments. 

Plus, you don’t need to worry about web hosting because you get it for free with the online store builder. And you also get a free .STORE domain all for R319 a month. 

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Step 3: Market your online business

Social media makes online marketing accessible and affordable. Social media platforms have become the new word of mouth marketing in the internet age and is a powerful tool for small businesses. The core function of social media is to make connections and build relationships. 

Your social media strategy should;

  • Establish and maintain relationships with your customers;
  • Be accessible for customer queries;
  • Provide compelling content for your audience; and
  • Showcase your product or service

Starting a business includes a lot of trial and error, hence patience is crucial. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment because that is how you discover what works best for your business. 

Protect your business idea and go legit by registering your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Having a registered business allows you to confidently seek funding and enjoy the perks of being a registered business. Owning your business allows flexibility, financial rewards, and the opportunity to make an impact on your community. That business idea you’ve been procrastinating? Start today; it’s as easy as having an internet connection and investing time to bring your vision to life.