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20 February 2018

Setting Up an Online Business: What You Need to Know

Posted By: AIB Business

Setting up your own online business, whether you are selling a product online or offering a service, can feel like a daunting task. The internet has turned the whole world into a potential customer, and while there’s never been a better time to think entrepreneurially, selling online can seem like a complex journey to undertake. However, breaking down your vision into smaller chunks and tackling one task at a time can turn launching an online business into an exciting (not to mention profitable) endeavour.

Here’s what you really need to know about setting up your own business - without setting yourself up for mental or financial burnout. 

Secure Your Domain Name

Before you start figuring out the pretty packaging or killer pitch, you first need to find your place on the internet. Securing your business domain is a good start - .com or .ie is ideal but cheaper extensions like .co are often favoured by edgier businesses and startups that know keeping costs low in the early days might give them the opportunity to buy their dream domains in the future. Keep an open mind and try not to blow the budget on the internet version of vanity plates.

Get the Right Content Management System

Eye-catching business name? Check. Near-perfect website address? Done. Off-putting message about your site undergoing maintenance whenever someone visits? You can do better. Choosing the right content management system on which to build your site is possibly one of the most important aspects of your online presence. Why? Because if it’s too irksome, expensive, or glitchy to use on the go, you run the risk of creating a rarely-updated, unhelpful and off-putting dinosaur that gives the user an awkward and unappealing experience. Keep within your capabilities and choose a CMS that you enjoy using and expand from there. Wordpress, for example, is free, open source and, for these reasons, used by millions.

Make It Easy for People to Find You

Another consideration before you spend all your time, energy and money on a brand new website is, how will people find it? Unless you have a decent marketing plan and the time to implement it, you may want to borrow somebody else’s marketing efforts for a while.  If you’re selling a product, online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Etsy could be the perfect place to start. They tend to charge very little to sell with them, they look after the tech backend of the ordering system, and they have millions of daily visitors primed for buying. If you offer an online service, perhaps a freelancing community like PeoplePerHour, Freelancer or FiverUp would be a good place to cut your digital teeth. It’s always worth considering starting small and proving your concept before quitting the day job.

Boost Your Presence with Digital Marketing

Whether you decide to build your own site or sell on someone else’s (or, better still, both), it’s never too early to kick-start your digital marketing efforts. Most social media platforms are free to use and business accounts are usually quite straightforward to set up. You don’t need to have a five-year marketing plan put together to start getting your name out there and refining your brand. Updating your online profiles with news and insights, new products, and business developments is an effective way of making people feel attached to your product.

Share relevant links, funny stories, or topical articles relevant to your field to give people an insight into your brand values and the problems you or your product plan to solve. And then engage, engage, engage! Everyone who interacts with your content is a potential client so treat them as such. Remember, an active, energetic social media presence is digital marketing gold.

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Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.

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