Some people are born to be serial entrepreneurs. They understand that not every venture will be a success, and they aren’t bothered by that fact. For them, most of the fun is in starting a new project and seeing if it grows. That, however, is a luxury many people don’t have. Unless you’re sitting on a mountain of investment capital, you can’t afford to launch a business that fails; you need your first venture to be a success.
When an online business grows and thrives, it’s not an accident or luck; it’s nothing more than the result of careful planning and execution. One of the reasons why serial entrepreneurs are successful with their ventures so much of the time is because they’ve experienced successes as well as failures. They know what the traits of a successful business are, and they know that those traits are repeatable because they don’t really differ from one field to the next. When you’re starting your first online business, though, you don’t have the benefit of experience.
In this article, we’re going to provide some advice that can make things easier for you and eliminate the need to fumble through things blindly. Are you getting ready to enter the world of e-commerce for the first time? Not so fast. Don’t start your first online business until you’ve read these tips.
Choose Your Niche Carefully
Whether it’s pet supplies, clothes, electronics or something else, every online business has a niche. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a new online entrepreneur is jumping right into the first niche that springs to your mind. The fact that a particular business idea sounds good to you on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be successful. In fact, it’s even possible that the field in which you ultimately find success will be one that doesn’t interest you a great deal personally. It’s also very important for you to know how broad or narrow your niche will be and what the implications of that decision are.
It’s very important for you to have an understanding of the competitive landscape in your chosen field before starting an online business because choosing a niche in which you won’t have competition is essentially impossible. Regardless of the type of product you’ll ultimately end up selling online, there will be other existing businesses already selling similar products. Do you have the time and resources to break through the static and make people aware of your business?
The broader your niche is, the more competition you’ll have. Pet supplies, for example, is an extremely broad niche with a great deal of competition. In a field that broad, it may take a marketing budget in the millions for you to get noticed at all. A sub-niche like dog houses, on the other hand, isn’t quite as broad. The narrower your niche is, the easier it will be for you to get noticed online. If your niche is too narrow, though, you may not have a large enough addressable customer base to sustain a business. You need to choose a niche in which there are people actively searching for products to buy. If there is no existing search traffic for the keywords that relate to your niche, then you’ll have to create that traffic by defining the use case for your products and making sure that people know about it.
Know What’s Hot in Your Niche
Unless you’re an inventor or are really thinking outside the box, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have to define a use case for your products. It’s much more likely that you’re going to be entering a well-known niche in which there’s already an established customer base. In that case, it’s going to be important for you to select the right products to sell.
When you’re choosing what products to sell in your online store, don’t just choose the products that are your favorites or that you think will be successful based on gut instinct. Instinct may help you predict future trends. Vape shop owners who successfully predicted in advance that disposable vapes would become the industry’s hottest products, for instance, did very well when their predictions came true.
In general, though, you shouldn’t base your product selection on anything other than hard data. Use a keyword volume tool to check the monthly search volume for the brand names and products that you intend to carry. If you’re able to find keywords totaling many thousands of monthly searches, your proposed product selection probably has a large addressable market.
Choose the Right Domain Name
After you’ve chosen a niche and selected the products you’re going to carry, the next step is to select your business’s domain name. Remember that when you’re running an online business, your domain name is your business’s name – so it’s extremely important to make the right choice. Your domain name should be as short and memorable as possible. Don’t try to get too creative with the spelling; if someone won’t immediately know how to spell the domain name upon hearing it, you should choose something else. Goldbely eventually changed its name to Goldbelly because no one could remember how to spell it, and that’s just one example. Don’t let yourself become one of those businesses because rebranding is an extremely difficult process.
Before you go to register a domain name, you should have a long list of ideas because when you check to see which of your ideas are available, you’ll find that many of them are already registered. You need to find a name that’s available and that doesn’t violate an existing company’s trademark.
If you find a domain name that fits all of the qualifications above, you should register it immediately. A registrar may lock a domain for a few days after you search for it. That process is called domain name front running. During those days, you can only register the domain through that registrar – and if the domain receives any type-in traffic during that time, the registrar may take it for itself and try to resell it for a higher price.