Where to begin when starting an online business

by Jun 4, 2018Biz0 comments

I know how it starts. You have a passion for something, a passion for helping people, and just as much passion for the idea of working for yourself with all the flexibility and freedom that brings.

That was me 6 years ago when I was weighing up the decision to train as a health coach. I had been blogging for 2 years about health and wellbeing so I had the passion and ideas I just needed to make them into something solid – a business!

Over the last 6 years I’ve learned SO much about running an online business, plus I’m still learning new things every day. It’s an incredible journey to be on, but at the start it can be incredibly overwhelming just trying to figure out how to get started.

For me, it all started when I began my training with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). While I still had a lot to learn after the course, it gave me a solid foundation to get started and helped give me direction.

IIN is a great option, but not right for everyone, so I wanted to share a few tips I’ve picked up on my own journey to help you if you’re thinking of starting some kind of online business. I didn’t plan for this to be such an in depth post when I sat down to write it but I really hope it helps!

Decide if you need additional qualifications

Depending on what you’re most passionate about helping people with, have a good think about whether or not you need to seek out additional qualifications and training to enable you to confidently work with people. There’s loads of options, and you’re not restricted to traditional brick and mortar colleges and universities – you can do a number of courses and training online which enables you to train while working full or part time or around your children if needed. Woo hoo to that!

Start creating some kind of online presence – do this now!

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is putting off getting themselves out there online. Building an audience and community of people who know like and trust you is the bedrock of any online business. The sooner you get that started the better! You don’t need anything to sell right away, in fact I think it’s better to start without that at first, all you need is something you’re passionate about and a willingness to show up with some consistency.

You don’t even need a website, just start with an Instagram account and a Facebook business page and then cross post your Instagram content on to Facebook to save you time creating two lots of content.

Have conversations

One of the reasons it’s super useful to get yourself out there online at the start is that it enables you to have conversations with real people, potential clients and customers, about what they need support with. This can be invaluable research to help shape your programmes and packages while also growing your engagement.

Get serious

At this stage it’s time to get serious and decide on a business legal framework – in the UK you can be a sole trader, partnership, limited company (which is what I am) or even something like a community interest company (CIC) if your work has a charitable or social purpose or aims. You might want to get some legal / professional advice about what the best set up is for you. Then you’ll need to look into informing HMRC that you’re trading (again, seek professional advice around this as it will look differently for different businesses and when you actually start trading). Plus you’ll want to set up a bank account for your business as well. As an online business I’d also recommend you look into setting up some kind of online payment processor like PayPal or Stripe.

Brand + website

Now the funnest part in my opinion – bringing it all to life!

You’ve got a couple of options here, DIYing it or paying for a professional to do it for you – there’s pros and cons for both options.

Check out my free Success Action Plan for Coaches which takes you through the whole process of getting clear, creating a brand and designing a website!

Create something to sell

Now you have a website, a beautiful brand, social media channels and all you need is something to sell! What this is will depend on your passion – but here’s an easy way to get focused. Always remember the problem you are solving for people. You might have one key main problem and some sub problems – but once you have that clear you’ll find everything so much easier. So whatever you sell will be a vehicle that helps people tackle that problem. It might be coaching 1-2-1, an online course, an ebook etc.

Next steps

Here is where I’d recommend most people set up a way to capture people’s email addresses and start building an email list (my fave is ConvertKit, often using some kind of awesome free gift to offer people real value for becoming part of your community. And then emailing that list on the reg.

There’s a bunch more I could write here but this post is already mammoth!

*Make sure you grab a copy of my Success Action Plan which takes you through all the steps in detail.* 

So I’ve covered the steps I’d suggest someone setting up an online business take – and just a reminder that these can all happen concurrently if you have the time and energy to do that, for example you can be working on your brand and having conversations with people on social while also setting up a business bank account.

Either way, there’s a considerable amount of work to be done, often in excess of a full time job / kids etc which can make it feel like a real uphill battle, but fear not, you can do it!

I’d love to know, if you’re considering starting an online business what are you struggling with right now? If you’re already a entrepreneur what have I missed? Would you add anything to my list?

Laura Agar Wilson is a wellbeing coach and business mentor who helps overwhelmed women live a life of more intention via planning, routines and seasonal living.

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