12 Pieces Of Advice For Starting An Online Business, From Those Who’ve Done It

If I wasn’t aware of it already, the Covid-19 lockdown has made me realise just how dependent I am on the internet! I have seen so many trending articles in recent months about online business, and it seems like many businesses that weren’t online before, have tried to adapt where possible in order to survive.

Many businesses that already were online have seen sales increase drastically, and others have teamed up to provide a product that was desparately needed in the times of a pandemic, and has enabled them to keep trading. An example of this being Crosstown Doughnuts, who worked with The Estate Dairy, Miller’s Bakery and a local fruit and veg supplier to provide food boxes across London (which I can confirm were great quality and saved me at the start of lockdown when I couldn’t get a supermarket delivery and was too nervous to go in person).

With more and more businesses now being solely online, it inspired me to find out from existing successful online business owners what one key piece of advice they would give to someone who is thinking of setting up an online business themselves.

Child Led Play – play resources shop
“Do your research, look at what others are doing in the same niche and don’t be afraid to adapt when things aren’t working for your current situation any longer. I started my shop by using PayPal buttons for items on a blog website – doing it all from scratch myself. This meant I bypassed the e-commerce fees but a few weeks in, and every time PayPal did some form of update, my button codes would break and I’d lose business and/or have to spend hours re-adding them. It was a good no-risk way of starting to work out demand, before jumping into a monthly fee e-commerce site instead.”

Say It With Champers – personalised champagne gifts
“Do as much ground work and research as possible before you take the plunge. If possible, build up the business before leaving paid employment as sales are hard to come by early doors. Search Engine Optimisation is crucial, but also expensive, take the time to learn it yourself as you will pick it up quick, save a lot of money, and add long term growth for your business. There are many free forms of advertising available, use as many as you can, and also websites that sell your products for a commission.”

Functional Fitness Coach – personal trainer
“Make sure that you thoroughly research other competitors in your industry/specific niche and ensure that you have a unique selling point over them. Coming from a fitness point of view, there’s a massive market with lots of different avenues so it’s really important to find something that makes you different to someone else.”

Enviroli – eco friendly online store
“Make sure you research the rules and regulations surrounding your business. When setting up my online store I came across quite a few other e-commerce sites who weren’t following the distance selling regulations properly. They will eventually find themselves in a difficult position, which can be easily avoided with a bit of research!”

Plumber At Hand – plumbing and heating service platform
“You don’t have to spend much money to test if there is actually a market for your offer. Too many businesses make a product only to find very few people want it in the form created.”

Birch And Tides – gifts and home decorations
“Be flexible! Situations change, customers change and the general market changes, make sure you are able to pivot your business to suit the demand. Online business benefits from being ahead of the curve and being able to react quickly to changes, use that to your full advantage!”

Carters Steam Fair – travelling fun fair
“We are a travelling fun fair and at the start of the pandemic we launched a whole new business online virtually in order to keep our travelling fun fair afloat in a time when we were grounded and stopped as a result of the pandemic. Don’t be afraid, take the risk, have a go and make it happen.”

YANA Active – women’s activewear
“Ensure you’re able to capture your audience with engaging copy and fantastic imagery throughout your website. Your website should tell the story of your brand and take the customer on a journey, making them want to find out more about your brand, what you do and how you do it!”

It Started With a Stitch – embroidery artist/craft specialist
“Your customers are not just living in the town that you are. Think global. Pricing, advertising, themes. You are not restricted by location, the world is literally your oyster.”

Katie Ramsingh – copywriting
“Invest in a good copywriter – or learn about SEO and content writing from free online resources. A poorly written website will immediately make you look amateur and turn customers away!”

Harley Counselling – online talking therapy
“Set boundaries on how much time you spend on your business – it’s really easy to spend any and all free time you have on it but in the long term having rules like “I do social media four times a week” or “Friday is my admin day” helps to create a rhythm where you don’t resent the business because you’re working all the time. It stops you from trying to do everything at once, which can be tempting.”

Sophia Alexander Jewellery – luxury British jewellery
“Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Building a business takes time. It’s so easy as a new business owner to look around at what everyone else is doing and feel totally overwhelmed and left behind. Take a step back and breathe. Once you stop trying to do all the things, all the time, things will improve a lot! Try not to take too much notice of people on social media who are seemingly crushing it with their six-figure businesses. Social media shows a snapshot of what they want you to see, their reality might be nothing like yours. Focus on what you can control and try to take at least one positive step forward each day. With a little determination, you’ll get there in the end.”

Top image credit: Unsplash

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