This is the complete guide on how to start an online business in India. So, if you are looking for something on how to start an online business then you have come to the right place.
I’ll tell you in a very comprehensive way to start an online business from home step-by-step.
You’ll enjoy these actionable techniques.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Find a Niche
The first step towards starting anything online is finding a niche.
Before you start anything in an online business, you need to look out for the right product.
It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have in business. It’s always compulsory to search for products which people require.
Most people make the mistake of selling those products that nobody needs. Remember, business is something that should solve the problems of other people.
If it is not solving any problem, you need to look out for something else.
It would be best if you have a great business idea then only you can expect that people give you money.
Why is finding a Niche Important in an Online Business?
The world of the internet is so big that you can’t compete with everyone. It’s always better to create your competition with yourself only.
To start an online business in India, you need to choose a small niche.
As there are so many people more knowledgeable, more experienced and more skilful already good at businesses.
So, how would you compete with them?
The answer is simple,
You have to find a niche, which means, you have to choose a specific small segment from larger ones.
Finding a niche helps stand out from the crowd and enables you to create your own brand. Today, we have a very tremendous amount of competition in the online world.
Therefore if you are building a business that belongs to a smaller niche, you would only get a highly targeted audience called as “warm audience“.
A warm audience easily gets converted, you don’t require to please them. And this is very important in any business.
How to Find a Niche?
The most important question is- “Hmm. But how do I find my niche?”
You can easily find your niche if you do some market research.
You can visit Online Forums, and see what people are searching for and what problems they find.
Visit Google Trends, type a keyword, and see what the current trends in online businesses are.
Ask in your locality or friends what problems they face mostly in their day-to-day life.
Visit your competitors’ websites and see what they are doing and what you can do something different.
One of the best examples of niche online business is StayClassy.
As you can see, they have chosen a very niche area in the world of technology. They sell only phone covers which is a wonderful idea as it is in itself a huge industry.
These kind of websites focus on only one product and then scale it later, according to their customers’ feedback.
How to find a Profitable business idea?
The internet is full of unique and profitable online business ideas that you can learn for free and create something your own.
If you have already selected a niche, you’ll quickly find a great business idea that works for you.
Try to find those ideas which don’t require a lot of market research if you’re starting an online business for the first time. Because whenever we start something new, we don’t have much idea whether this idea will work or not.
So, go for only those ideas that have already been applied by somebody else.
Once you have selected a business idea and niche, you’re now ready to jump on to the next chapter.
2. Evaluate Market Viability
Ever thought about why some products have a more significant potential to sell than others? It’s because they have more market viability, and this is what you have to determine while thinking about your online business.
If you planned and researched thoroughly about your business idea, it’s time to evaluate the market viability.
In general, market viability means analyzing the market needs, what kinds of products are needed by people, and what we can do to increase our products’ demand.
According to Entrepreneur Magazine,
In other words, if you want to establish or start your online business, its always better to ask other people, if they like it or not.
But before, you should these questions to yourself –
What is the problem I am trying to solve?
Is my business profitable?
How can I scale my business?
Asking these questions would help you in understanding the problems that you may find later in your business. It’s always better to ask them before starting any online business.Establishing an online business without proper market research is like putting your money in the fire. Click To Tweet
How to do Market Research?
While conducting any market research, ensure your objectives and goals regarding your online business idea.
There are several ways to conduct market research –
1. Identify your Target Audience
You cannot sell your product/service to everyone globally since you have to be laser-focused while starting any online business.
But, how can you find your target audience?
It depends on your niche. For example, if you are a fitness instructor, your targeted audience would be only those who wanted a healthy life.
Similarly, if you’re interested in cooking or dancing, your targeted audience would likewise.
It would be best if you decided your audience based on geography, demography and psychography.
2. Conduct a Survey
You can use SurveyMonkey to conduct an online survey.
Firstly, you should ask yourself what kind of questions do you want to ask people.
Second thing, to know the demography like where do you want to conduct this survey.
Third, picking the right moment to conduct the survey.
3. Take Actions
When you get the analytics of the survey, plan accordingly. It helps you in giving the basic idea about your customers’ minds.
Tip for starting an E-Commerce Store
If you’re planning to start an e-commerce business, you should definitely look out for what others are doing in this field.
You can go on Google Trends and check which product is in the most demand.
Compare the volume of searches for specific terms by geographic locales and their popularity by the time.
Use BuzzSumo to check the market trends on social media platforms.
After applying these steps, you’ll need to focus on some tactical aspects and how this impact your business model.
It would help if you consider the following tips –
1. Your Product Size & Weight
There is a massive problem in an e-commerce business, cart abandonment. The reason is, the product size and weight.
Your product size and weight must not be too large. Otherwise it could create a negative impact by having high shipping costs. If you provide quick, easy, and free shipping advantages, it will increase your customer loyalty.
2. Product Frangibility
You should give extra care to brittle or easily breakable products. E.g. Glass products, pottery items, these products need extra care while packaging.
As you don’t want your customers to return your products. Right?
So, make sure to have good packaging and delivery.
3. Product Lifetime
It is also a very significant part of an e-commerce store is to check the product lifespan and durability. E.g. if you’re selling any edible products, you have to ensure their expiry dates.
Taking an example of a grocery store, you’ll find very tough competition in this business model
So, if you want repeat customers, just ensure the quality of your products.
These were some essential points to keep in mind while starting an e-commerce business.
3. Conduct a Competitive Analysis to Start your Online Business
Conducting Competitive Research is an intelligent decision for any entrepreneur to stay one step ahead of your competitor.
By conducting and monitoring your competitors’ behaviours, you would be able to analyse the market demand.
In this chapter, I’ll to tell you how to conduct proper research on your competitors’ work.
Let’s discuss step-by-step –
Conduct SWOT ( Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) Analysis
When you know your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, it becomes a lot easier to make our business model stronger.
Because these are the two most important factor in any business. If you know and spy on your competitor, you’ll find better ideas than you can’t find by yourself.
How to find your competitor?
It’s very easy to find your competitor in an online world.
Just go on Google.
Type your niche.
Get the list of your Top 10 Competitors.
Or, if you want to find for e-commerce business, Amazon would be the best…
It’s as simple as that!
How to Analyse your Competitor’s Website?
Once you find your competitors list, just go one-by-one on each of their websites and see what they’re doing.
You can analyze by categorizing them and finding an opportunity where they lack.
Categorize their websites on the basis of these factors –
Their Website Theme
Their Copywriting and Call to Action (CTA)
And their Product/Service Pricing
After categorizing them, look for opportunities to leverage by observing your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
Look, what you can do to attract your customers and what your competitor is not doing.
Is their website Mobile and SEO-optimized?
Create your MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
What is Minimum Viable Product?
A minimum viable product has all the initial features to attract your first customers when you haven’t actually started your company.
MVP can help any business get reviews and feedback so that any entrepreneur would understand his custoomer’s actual need. And later, he or she would do some pivoting according to the market demand.
Why is MVP important?
The role of creating MVP is to test your business idea like is there any demand for your product in the market? Or you are just starting another business that nobody needs.
How to create your MVP?
To create your MVP, you should have some clients who are ready to buy the product. Ask in your friends or family circle, talk to them about your business idea and then execute it.
Do you know that Google, Airbnb, Foursquare all have started just by creating their MVPs? They all have no money initially, the founders of these companies started by solving the problems faced by other people.
Look some problems around you, you’ll find the answers automatically.
4. Set-up your Website
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to set-up your website
It is the most crucial part to start any online business in India because without setting-up an excellent website, you’re not going to make money.
First of all, don’t hire a developer. Yes, I’m serious about it.
There are so many tools online that you can use a build a world-class website.
There is WordPress, Wix.com, Shopify, SquareSpace, and many other softwares available online.
Further, if you think that you cannot manage everything by yourself then only you should hire someone who can do it for you.
How to Choose a Perfect Domain Name?
Your domain name is the first thing while starting an online business because it will help you in branding.
But, how would you choose a perfect domain name?
There are some factors that you should remember while purchasing your first domain name.
When I purchased my first domain name, I made a mistake that it was very difficult to remember.
So, be careful and keep these following points in your mind –
It should be short not too long (maximum 2-3 words)
It should be memorable.
Avoid Hyphens, Numbers and Special Characters.
Check its meaning in other languages (sometimes a word has a different meaning in different languages).
How to Choose a Perfect Hosting?
This is a million-dollar question because many people have this confusion that which hosting would be perfect for them.
Well, I don’t believe in fake reviews.
Therefore, I would only suggest you the hosting that I’m currently using because I don’t want viewers to 2-3 hosting provider names and at last nothing works for them.
So, I basically use Hostinger as my hosting-provider as it gives me excellent speed.
It is one of the best solutions if you are searching cheap and best hosting provider.
Here’s the screenshot of GTmetrix, showing my website speed.
Now, the decision is yours!
To get web hosting and domain for your first online business, follow these steps:
Step 1. Visit the Hostinger Pricing Page and select a plan.
I recommend the Best Value Plan. Click the “Add to Cart” button.
Step 2. Select a Domain Name.
Enter any domain name you want to purchase, make sure to choose only relevant names that reflects your business.
Step 4. Go to the Checkout Page.
Here, you’ll see that you are getting hosting for 48 months at only Rs. 119/month. I don’t think that any hosting provider would give you such a best and cost-effective services like this.
After purchasing the domain and hosting, set up your website on WordPress.
What tools should you use on your WordPress Website?
There are so many tools required to build a good website but these are some essential tools that I recommend you to use.
It doesn’t matter in whatever niche you are in. Iif you use these tools, you can sky-rocket your website.
1. Elementor Pro
Elementor is one of the best Page Builder you can use on your website to make beautiful designs.
It has already pre-made templates, so you don’t need to make everything from scratch.
2. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a free plugin which can be used for optimizing your website to rank on Google.
It has also a premium version but free version also works really well. Just try it!
3. WP Rocket
This is a cache plugin used to speed-up your website which is essential in SEO. People often get confuse between a free cache plugin and paid.
Some of my friends asked me, “Why would we pay for a premium plugin when we have a free one?“
Then my answer would be like, “Why would you pay for mineral water when you can drink plain water?” The difference you know very well.
Plain water can make you ill, while the paid one will make you healthier.
So, why not invest in something which is going to be your career. Always remember that results don’t come until you invest.
Start Collecting Emails
You will thank me later!
This would be pemium advice that no one will tell you because the first step just after setting-up your website would be to start collecting leads.
The reason is, you don’t when who is coming to your website and you cannot tell who could be your customer in the future.
So, it’s better to plan earlier.
Create a lead magnet and start collecting people’s emails.
Why is it important?
By collecting people’s emails you can always do cross-selling and up-selling in any online business.
In India, I have seen people constantly ignore to collect leads as it is the most crucial part.
You can use my favourite, Thrive Leads to generate outstanding results.
Which email marketing tool would be best?
I’ve used and experienced almost all the email marketing tools which are present on the internet.
Lately, I got to know about ConvertKit that I am using to date and I can say that it is one of the best tools that I’ve been used.
Previously, ConvertKit didn’t allow a free trial, but now they’re offering a free trial of up to 1000 subscribers.
So, go and check out their features now.
5. Pricing your Product/Service
The next step to start an online business in India is setting up the price.
India is a country where everyone loves to buy cheaper products and services. So, if you want to start something in India, you should keep in mind the pricing factor as well.
There is also a thing that most entrepreneurs tend to underestimate what they’re doing is to set a reasonable price.
Don’t underprice yourself, yes it’s true, that everyone loves to buy cheaper products. But it doesn’t mean that people don’t buy pricier products.
Also, if it’s your first business and you haven’t started any online business before, then stick to a price between $30 to $40.
Because in this way, you would quicky get profitable faster.
Suppose, if you’re selling a $5000 product in the starting only and nobody knows you. Then, it might take ages to convert your product.
So, start as much basic as you can. The more you make your business model simpler, the more people would love to buy from you.
How to select a Payment Gateway?
There are various kinds of payment gateways in India, but select only those that people trust the most. Otherwise, nobody would pay you.
In India, RazorPay, PayU and Paytm are frequently used. If you want to establish your online business and sell your products internationally you can go for PayPal.
Paypal offers you to collect payments worldwide, therefore I would highly recommend it if you want to sell in international countries.
6. Market your Online Business
Now, this is my favorite chapter and in this, you’ll learn how to market your first online business.
There are two kinds of marketing options available, online & offline. And for an online business, I would highly recommend you to go for online marketing only.
But how to start online marketing?
Online or digital marketing is very wide as there are so many options available in digital marketing.
Basically, there are two kinds of online marketing – Organic & Inorganic.
Well, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, “the best way to market any business online is to be found organically through a search at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). “
These techniques are known as Organic Marketing. We’ll discuss in detail what is Organic and Inorganic forms of digital marketing.
1. Organic Marketing
What is Organic Marketing?
Organic Marketing refers to an unpaid form of marketing. It is an act of attracting customers via Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on search engines like Google, Bing and on different social media platforms.
We apply different techniques to get our site rank on search engines whenever someone searches for a specific term.
Organic marketing takes a lot of time and effort to get any results. Sometimes, it takes years to build the authority of a domain.
So, it is a very tedious process but once you gain a good ranking and an authority on Google, you don’t need to pay any dollar for marketing.
It is an excellent way of marketing to start an online business in India as most people do not have a budget.
It takes time but worth it.
Organic marketing can done in different ways –
1. Creating a Blog Post
This is one of the oldest but fantastic strategy to gain the trust of the people. Create high-quality posts that add an excellent amount of value to people’s lives.
It is not going to happen in one day but experts know the value of creating blogs. If you write smartly by using your copywriting skills, you’ll garner the attention of your customers.
2. Leverage the power of Social Media Marketing
Social Media can be your most powerful tool as more and more people started using it. The number of people using social media platforms today is 3.96 billion and this number will surely increase in the future.
I would highly suggest you do not miss this huge number, start using social media to market your online business.
Use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create contents that add value.
I use to create contents mostly on Instagram where I share online business-related posts that are based on most asked questions on social media.
3. Create Valuable Videos on YouTube
The overall consumption of videos has increased by 120%, says OptinMaster. Also, the number of mobile users has increased after the pandemic.
According to a recent Forbes study, “nearly 60% of adults in the U.S. regularly or occasionally consume video or TV on their mobile devices.”
People are shifting to digital platforms and are eager to watch more and more videos than before.
The best way to market your online business on YouTube is by creating content that are related to your business.
We can take the example of Linguatrip, Marina Mogilko is a popular YouTuber having more than 4 million subscribers across her all 3 YouTube Channels.
Along with this, she is using YouTube very efficiently to market her online business.
So, if you start making videos now in 2021, who knows that you would be a top YouTuber in the next five years.
4. Build trust with your customers through Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to build relationships with your customers. To succeed in email marketing, you have to give something free in exchange for your customer’s email addresses.
You can create an opt-in form on your website to collect emails.
5. Utilize Public Forums
There are some online forums like Quora, Reddit, Google Hubspot, to answer the questions that the public generally asks. By answering those questions you could get better exposure and also you can build your strong online business brand.
Public forums are the best platform where you can find problems that people mostly face as customers. Being an Entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to analyze and plan people’s problems.
Well, every marketing techniques have some pros and cons.
So, let’s discuss them.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Organic Marketing
|No limitations, you can reach 10 people up to 10 million people.||It takes a lot of time to reach higher number of people.|
|It is inexpensive as you create quality content, you can sell your products.||Not segmented as you don’t have the control on who can see your content.|
|It stays forever if you’re working hard in putting valuable content.||Results are not guaranteed.|
|You don’t require any guidelines to follow to show up your brand unlike inorganic marketing.||You have to make your own guidelines while creating the content which could be a tedious process.|
2. Inorganic Marketing
What is Inorganic Marketing?
Inorganic marketing can be defined as the opposite of organic marketing means in which you have to pay for marketing.
Unlike organic marketing, inorganic marketing is usually quick in which you don’t have to wait for a longer period of time because you’re paying for the immediate results.
It gives greater exposure by showcasing your ads whenever somebody is looking for your product/service (like Google Ads).
There are certain advantages and disadvantages in inorganic marketing also like it’s limited for a certain period of time. Once you stop paying for ads, you no longer can show up your ads on different marketing channels.
It is very effective to start an online e-commerce business in India because inorganic marketing gives you very quick results.
Let’s see what the best platforms for inorganic marketing are –
1. Google Ads
Google Ads are the perfect form of inorganic marketing because it offers you paid advertisements whenever someone searches for a specific term.
Whenever you type a keyword in the Google search box, you see some sponsored ads, these are actually known as Google Ads.
Google Ads provides you many features like running multiple ad campaigns, targeting and retargeting your customers.
There are also Google Display Ads, which you might have seen as banner ads on websites.
2. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads also provides you very detailed targeting based upon people’s behaviors, interests, and demographics.
Many people found that Facebook ads perform well for dropshipping and e-commerce stores. Basically, it is suitable for product-based selling which is not too much costly.
Further, if you want to sell your high-margin services, making sales funnel would be a good approach.
3. Instagram Ads
Instagram Ads are also similar to Facebook Ads, it provides specific targetting and segmentations. It is becoming more popular than Facebook as more and more people are shifting on it.
So, it has a huge user base right now. Therefore, it would be beneficial for you if you run ads on Instagram as well.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Inorganic Marketing
|When you pay money to a third party, you’ll see quick results.||It is not fixed how much money you have to spend to see any results.|
|Reach is highly Targeted and segmented.||It is only for a limited time as long as you pay money for showing up the ads.|
|No need to worry about anything once you started your ad campaigns.||You have to monitor every time how your ads is performing.|
7. Taking Feedbacks and Pivot
Taking feedback is the most crucial part after marketing to start an online business.
When you do marketing you are just throwing the arrows in the dark. But after then when you take feedbacks, you would able to know what others are thinking about your business idea.
To solicit customers’ feedback, you must ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered in one or two words.
The reason because when you ask questions directly to your customers, you will get the idea of how people are thinking about your company, products, and services.
Some tips while taking feedbacks –
Write down the feedbacks in a very detailed manner.
Make comprehensive data.
Ask specific & direct questions.
Look for the Pain Points of your Customers
You should have only one goal in your mind while taking the feedback is to identify customer’s pain points. You have to think about how to solve their pain points.
Here are some questions that can help you in finding out the pain points
How could you improve your product/services that align with customer’s need?
Do you feel that your product represents value for money?
What are people saying by using your products/services?
Apply Blue Ocean Strategy
What is a blue ocean strategy?
It refers to create a zone where nobody can beat you. In other words, when you create an uncontested market space by making the competition irrelevant, it is called the Blue Ocean Strategy.
Sometimes, it becomes difficult to solve the pain points. In this case, you can pivot or tweak your business plan through which you come under the blue ocean.
Pivoting your business idea helps you in overcoming the cut-throat competition. With the blue ocean strategy, you can think about some creative ways to grow your business.
How to find the blue ocean strategy?
Some tips for finding out the blue ocean
- Identify and fill the gaps
- Watch what your competitors are doing.
- Identify your strengths and find out a creative way to solve the problems.
8. Register your Online Business
In this chapter, we’ll learn how to register (legally) your online business in India.
The company registration process might be tedious but once you do this you’ll be able to protect your business from any legal compliances.
This can be done in two ways: private company or as a public company.
Registering an Online Business as Sole Proprietorship
Registering your online company as a sole proprietorship must be an easier way to start because it requires less legal compliances.
You can start and run your online business from home as a sole proprietary with no registration required. But once you seek expansion when your business becomes profitable, it’s better to take office with some paperwork.
There are some procedures which have to follow in order to register your business-
Step 1. Fill in an Application for getting DIN (Directors Identification Number).
Step 2. Once you received your DIN, you can apply for ROC (Registrar of Companies).
Step 3. After confirming the name, you can incorporate your company within 6 months.
Step 4. Apply for the GST (Goods & Services Tax)
Step 5. Later, you can apply for Provident Fund, with the respective Provident Fund Organization.
Step 6. Register with Employees’ State Insurance Corporation for the medical insurance of the employees.
Step 7. Apply for the Certification of the Company’s Incorporation
In this way, you can register your online business in India.
That’s it for my guide to starting an online business in India.
Let me know, when are you going to apply these techniques to start your first online business in 2021.
Remember, to have enough patience as a business is another name to perseverance.
Either way, let me know if you have any queries in the comments below.