How to Set Up a Sustainable Online Business in 6 steps

“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” Milton Hershey

With low barriers to entry and readily available tools, setting up an online business is something that just about anyone can do. Each day, hundreds of new websites pop up – some go on to great things whilst others sink without a trace.

Building a sustainable online business requires more than the barebones of a website; it demands a robust marketing and sales strategy to convert browsers into buyers, and buyers into brand advocates.

Here’s a 6-step guide to setting up an online business that’s built to last:

Step 1: Building the foundation

Your website is where your business idea starts to take form. It is ultimately important to invest the right resources into creating a professional website.

In addition to selecting a suitable domain, finding a hosting provider and choosing a content management system, web design could mean the difference between your target customers coming to you or going to your competitors. If you think a free website builder or a social media page will cut it, think again. If you want to make an impact you’ll need a professional looking site that tells people you are serious about your business.

banjo-appThe good news, most people don’t understand the importance of good design so you’ll immediately be ahead of them by creating a professional site.

Presently, Google is particularly keen on penalizing websites that are not optimized for mobile. At the same time, you can be sure that a large majority (probably half) of your prospective customers will access your website from a mobile.

Step 2: Set up an auto-responder

The money is in the list, always. The next step is to set up an auto-responder—an automated system that lets you collect emails from prospects and buyers, all of whom will be valuable in your sales funnel.

Examples of auto-responders are MailChimp, Aweber and iContact. An auto-responder allows you to set up an opt-in form on your website or landing page where visitors can provide their contact information in exchange for a free product such as an eBook, webinar, or podcast. You can automatically send them a message when they opt-in and also send “broadcasts” in bulk to all of your subscribers at once.

Part of setting up the auto-responder often entails creating a landing page. Persuasive (not sleazy) copy is at the heart of impactful landing pages.

Step 3: Set up your payment channels

Do not wait to get your first customer to set up a payment method. Do it in anticipation of your first sale.

Your payment options will largely depend on the nature of your business. The payment channels for an e-commerce business are different from those of a digital products or coaching business.

Common payment options include PayPal, credit cards, and a host of digital wallet payment methods such as Skrill, Neteller etc. Choose the payment method that is likely to be the most convenient for your target customer.

If you don’t know which payment method to choose then drop me an email at and I’ll let you know.

Step 4: Build your sales funnel

Think about it: once you generate leads with your landing page (created above) what will you do with these leads? A major mistake that causes online businesses to fail is failing to nurture leads, so no conversions are made.

Email automation is the cornerstone of an impactful sales funnel; one that brings about consistent conversions.

manYour email marketing strategy needs to be well thought out to ensure that you are nurturing each lead that comes into the sales funnel in a unique way that caters to their distinct needs.

As you get started, you do not need to have a large series of emails for your email marketing. However, you do need a couple of introductory emails to welcome new subscribers and to nurture them a step further into the funnel.

With a good strategy, you will have consistent conversions as opposed to one-off, lucky sales.

Step 5:  Roll out your advertisement plan

Prior to launching your online business, you want to create buzz around it. Even if you are starting out on a low budget, set aside funds for marketing, advertising and promoting your new business.

Online advertising options include Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads, and Display Ad Networks such as Google’s Double Click Ad Exchange.

The best thing about online ads is that you can set your own budget and go deep into segmenting your target audience to get the most returns for your advertising bucks.

Day 6: Organize your content program

Irrespective of the nature of your business, you need to have a robust content program in place to ensure continued traffic and conversions.

Just like your email strategy, plan out just a couple of highly impactful pieces of content to help you generate buzz, establish authority and keep your target customers interested as you nurture them through the sales funnel.

twitter google dealVideos, social media posts, images, blog post, ebooks are all great types of content to have in your content pipeline prior to launching.

Just like in the offline world, connections are extremely important to succeed in the online world. With so many websites popping up, your best bet to launching with a bang is to do it with an influencer; someone who is already well known, has a sizeable following and who is capable of creating buzz for you.

As you build your business, rigorously expand your network. Make connections with industry leaders and leverage their influence to launch a business that will not get lost in obscurity; but rather, one that will flourish.

Ready, Set, Go

A lot goes into building an online business that brings in constant sales. It may take a while before you start seeing any significant results, but with persistence and consistency, your dream of owning a lifestyle business will materialize.

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