What do I need to know to start up my online business? | Online business 

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Starting up a business online is similar to starting up any traditional business.

You'll need to know some basic things in order to get started – what you’ll be selling, as well as your market. If you intend to do business online, it’s also a good idea for you to get familiar with some IT and web skills. Read on to find out more about starting a business.

Know your product or service

What type of business will you start? What will you produce or sell?

This knowledge is essential to any business, online or otherwise. Without a good idea of what product or service you will offer, it can be very hard to move forward with planning and marketing your business.

Your product or service will influence your business structure, too. Depending on what you market or sell, will you only do business online, or will you also have an office space or store to run as well? This can have an impact on your business in terms of staffing, storage space, and rent outlays.

Need to know more about potential business structures? Visit our Thinking of starting a business How-to guide for more information.

Our Importing & exporting business topic has information on importing and exporting goods that you may like to take into consideration.

Know your customers

Knowing some information about who you will be selling to can help you define your business. Do some research into your potential (or existing) customers or clients, and their habits - this means checking out who will be buying or using your goods and services, and how they normally do this.

Understanding your customer base, and how to direct them to your online business, is important. Investigate what kind of customers usually buy online, what they are buying, and how they find their goods and services.

Check out our Market research & statistics business topic for more ideas.

Know your plan

Why write a business or marketing plan?

It may be tempting to get on the internet right away and start experimenting with setting up your business. However, a little planning can go a long way in ensuring your online business is a success. Creating business and marketing plans for your online business can help you identify goals and develop strategies for achieving them.

If you’re an established business moving online, you might already have a business or marketing plan – but it could be a good idea to review them to make sure they’re comprehensive.

How do I create a business or marketing plan?

Your basic business plan should be drafted before you go into business, but, once started, you should always be thinking about what you can add to it. It should contain some core information, such as why you want to go into business, and what your goals for the business are. It doesn’t need to be long or complicated – it should be clear and to-the-point.

Your marketing plan’s aim is to help you reach your target market and boost your customer base and bottom line. Drafting your plans can involve thinking about:

  • what your business name will be
  • how you are going to manage your business
  • looking after finances
  • developing products and services that meet the needs of your market.

Refer to our how-to guides to find out how to develop your business and marketing plan.

Need help creating your plan? We’ve got an app for that! Download MyBizPlan and MarketMyBiz, available for Android™ and iPad, or visit our Business plan template and guide and Marketing plan template and guide pages to get printable versions.

The Digital Business External link website has lots of information to help you plan how you’re going to run your business over the web.

Emergency management and succession planning

It’s important to think about protecting your future business in times of crisis or change. Smart business owners prepare for potential risks by creating emergency management plans and succession plans.

Emergency management planning allows you to adapt your business to changes in its environment, by taking appropriate action during emergencies to recover. Succession planning deals with business continuity, and can assist you in managing unexpected events, such as selling, retiring from, or leaving your business due to health reasons.

Visit our Emergency management & recovery business topic for more details, or download our MyBizShield emergency planning app to create your own recovery plan.

Our Succession planning how-to guide can help you take business continuity measures.

Know your IT

(…that’s ‘information technology’.)

Learning how to use your computer and its software packages, as well as how to navigate the internet without getting lost, will let you run your online business much more smoothly.

Don’t be intimidated if you’re not a computer whiz – there are plenty of information sessions and courses out there for you. Check out our IT training page to see what’s available in your state or territory.


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