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When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur online, it pays to be prepared. While there’s a lot you’ll learn and change along the way, identifying your business model and creating a plan for building it should be one of your first steps.
Not sure where to start? Build a strong foundation for your online business model by following these steps before you launch.
Identify a Need and Define Your Value Proposition
You might already have a business idea, or you might not. Regardless, it’s important to identify a need and define your value proposition before you get started. Even if you have a great idea for a product or service, there might not be a market for any number of reasons.
So, start by doing your research. How can you fill an unmet need within your target market? Or, if your business idea isn’t breaking new ground, how will you differentiate it from your competitors?
Every business needs to start with a strong value proposition. You can’t just differentiate on price—you have to offer your customers something they can’t get anywhere else. Some examples include:
- Unique features
- Better service
- Sustainability or social responsibility
Your value proposition will depend a lot on your products and what your competitors are doing. Getting started without knowing your differentiating features will make it more difficult to succeed, so make this a top priority!
Choose the Right Business Model
As an online business, you have a couple of options for business models. You can choose a standard e-commerce model, which allows people to purchase physical or digital products when they need them. Or, you can choose a subscription model, which unlocks access to content or includes certain product shipments for a monthly fee.
The type of model you choose will depend on what you sell and what your goals are for your business. Many people who start direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses use the subscription model to create ongoing income and brand loyalty. For non-consumable products, however, a standard e-commerce model might be more successful and sustainable.
Create and Build Your Brand Identity
Once you’ve chosen your business model, you need to start building a brand identity. Today, customers want to support brands that align with their values. It’s important to identify your brand values, voice, and aesthetic so you can start building a brand identity that will resonate with your target audience.
Defining your brand story is something you need to do from the very beginning. Choosing your brand colors, getting a logo, and creating a style guide for your content are all good ways to ensure brand consistency as you grow. Whether you’re posting on social media or programming your website, it’s important to have your brand identity defined so that you can start to build brand awareness and create a following.
Technology and Marketing in Online Business
For a successful online business, technology matters. You need to provide a good experience for visitors to your site, whether they’re on a phone, tablet, or desktop. We have high expectations for speed and website quality, meaning that a beautiful, functional website will help support a strong online business model.
Data-driven digital marketing is also critical for any online business model. You need to be objective and use data to continually update your marketing tactics, based on what’s working and what isn’t. In a crowded online marketplace, data can help you avoid wasting money on marketing techniques that are not producing any return on investment (ROI).
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs to Thrive in the Digital World
Women all over the world are building strong online businesses. However, there are often obstacles that women face in the world of entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to growth and funding. One good way for women to get the funding they need to grow their online enterprises is to look for small business grants, especially those awarded specifically to women.
To succeed in online business, women need a strong online business model, persistence, and a willingness to jump in and learn new skills as needed. While it’s not easy being an entrepreneur, it can be extremely empowering and rewarding for those who are prepared to meet the challenges!