Laptop and plant

The online business revolution started years ago and is now in full swing as every week we seem to see the announcement of another new “Unicorn” (So-called unicorns are private companies valued at more than $1bn).

However many of these $1bn companies started as just an idea with the founders spending hundreds of hours in bedrooms, coffee shops and shared office spaces trying to prove out if people really wanted what they were building. Whether your target is to build the next online Unicorn or even just a lifestyle business some of these tips will help you get started on the right footing.

  1. Solve a problem. Not all businesses solve obvious problems but one great route to building a successful business (which is often overlooked) is to solve someone’s problem. Airbnb allowed its users to find a more cost effective and ‘authentic’ experience for when visiting a new place compared to your regular hotel which is a great example of solving somebody’s problem.
  1. Test minimum feature sets. When you have the embryo of an idea for an online business it is easy to get carried away and create multiple different features or add on multiple products that you think the users may like. Firstly this leaves you busy building more things before you launch but it becomes difficult to know what any user really values about what you are offering. Keeping it simple allows you to get to market quick and then really find out what people like (or dislike) about what you have built.
  1. Be data driven. With free software like Google Analytics, it’s possible to get so much data on the performance of your online business in just a few clicks. Although getting this set up can be time consuming and your head around it confusing its 100% worth doing as it lets you keep your finger on the pulse of your business performance at all times.
  1. Be lean. By starting a business it can be easy to think you need huge budgets to get started but it’s not the case and when starting out it shouldn’t be. It’s possible to build a basic website integrating simple e-commerce and payment functionality by using such tools as Wordpress and Paypal. It’s even easy to get free marketing in the early days by getting free vouchers. Google give a free £100 spend on their adwords platform which can get you hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your site to get you going.
  1. Be committed. No business is made over night and starting online is no exception. The low barriers of entry to start up make it quick and cheap to get started which is great but due to this very reason you can often find your self surrounded by multiple competitors. The only way to win is to work a little harder and smarter and be committed to your vision as giving up too early will mean you simply can’t win.

By Andrew Jervis, Founder and CEO of ClickMechanic