Tag Archives: business plan

7 Steps to Start an Online Business

Having your own online business is a dream that many of the readers of this blog may have. There are however important steps to start an online business that needed to be followed.

Starting an online business, although it operates in a different channel, is not that different from starting a Brick and Mortar business. In both cases you need no do certain things in order to get your business up and running.

The 7 steps to start an online business

Starting a business may be for most people a chaotic and emotional episode. However, if you have a guide to do the right at the right time, the process may be smoother that you think. So, here are the steps:

Step 1: Planning

A Business Plan is a detailed action plan or road map outlining every conceivable aspect of the proposed venture. The plan describes what, how, when, where and why with regard to the new venture. It is thus a structured guideline for achieving your business goals.

Therefore, if you want to start an online shop, you should at least ask the following questions:

  • What kind of products do I want to sell?
  • Are there any competitors that will be selling the same products as me?
  • What should my website look like?

Read more: Planning Your Online Business 

By this time you should already have an idea what your business is about. Also about a name for your business…

Step 2: Register a domain name and choose a hosting company

If you already have the name of your shop, it is time to start setting it up. The first thing to do is to register for a domain name. However, good luck! According to Tek Eye (2017), there were 330 million domains registered for over 1.8 billion websites last year… So I think all the obvious domain names is already taken.

In spite of all the best domain names already been taken, you should try to get a name that can best represent your products or services. Registering a domain name should not cost you more than $10 (R120) for a .com extension. Visit SA Domains to see if a domain name is available.

After getting the domain name, you need to find a good hosting company. Look for a hosting company that has good servers and that will be able to run your online store e.g. Texo Webhosting.

Read more: Choose a Domain Name and Hosting Company for your Online Business 

Step 3: Choose your E-commerce package

You can build your online store through hosted solutions or self-hosted solutions

Hosted solutions:

Many hosted solutions provide a good experience to users with you doing very little on your end. However, when you use a hosted solution, you should be prepared to lose a lot of opportunity for customization.

The following three are among the top solutions:

It’s easy for anyone to set up an e-commerce site with Shopify. Some of the features you will enjoy by setting up a store with them include a custom mobile template, unlimited server bandwidth, SSL security, and a personal app store. You can try it for free for 14 days or choose a package that will suit you. Pricing starts from $14 to $179 (R180 – R2300) per month depending on the features and functionalities you are looking for.

Yahoo! Merchant Solution. The layout of Y!MS is fairly straightforward and can be easily customized. Y!MS ecommerce plans start from $19.98 to $224.96 (R260 – R2925) per month depending on the package and features you need.

BigCommerce is similar to Shopify but has limited features. The website has a clean interface, making it easy for users to sign up. You can easily add users, products, features and take payments online in just a few minutes. BigCommerce pricing ranges from R325 to R3900 a month depending on the features your need.

Self-Hosted Solutions:

If you do not want a hosted solution, you can make your own e-commerce scripts or use other open source or commercial shopping cart scripts.

Zen Cart is a popular open source script that will work in most web hosts. The script is free to download. The only downside of using the script is that your website will feature a “Powered by Zen Cart” message at the bottom.

Magento is another good script you can use for your e-commerce website. The script is written in PHP and is frequently updated. As is the case with Zen Cart, you will feel more comfortable using Magento if you are well-versed with HTML and CSS.

If you are comfortable using WordPress, you can easily set up an ecommerce store using various free and paid plugins. Examples of popular plugins that will enable your WordPress site and have ecommerce capabilities include WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce, Cart66, and others.

Read more: Choosing an eCommerce Platform for your Web Store

Step 4: Taking Payments Online

Credit cards provide customers with an easy way to make payments at your store. Apart from credit cards, customers may also wish to pay through other methods such as PayPal. You will want to accept payments through the methods that your customers trust and use. To accept credit cards online, you will need a merchant account.

Read more: Starting Your Web Store – How to Receive Payments Online

Step 5: Add Content and Products

After you have set up your domain name, hosting and shopping script, you are ready to start selling online. You now need to add your content and products. From this point onwards, you will also need to do some maintenance and tune your website design to match the needs of your customers.

Indeed, “The quality and relevance of the content of a retailers’ webpages can mean the difference between a sale and a bounce” writes Douw G Steyn recently in Bricks2Clicks.

The next important step is to get the product that your customer has paid for, to its destination.

Step 6: Shipping and Fulfillment

Like a physical retail store, you need to maximize the visitors at your store. However, you cannot simply hand over products over the counter. Also, shoppers expect a seamless shopping experience — no matter where they are, what device they are using, or how they choose to shop. Order Fulfillment – taking the right product, putting it in the right box, shipping it, and gaining the customer’s approval – is a demanding task (Bricks2Clicks).

Step 7: Marketing your online shop

One of the biggest challenges you may face as an e-commerce store owner is generating traffic that converts on your store. There are a number of digital marketing channels that retailers can use in the online channel:

  1. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) consists of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Paid Advertising (e.g. PPC – Pay Per Click advertising).
  2. Content Marketing includes Blogging, e-Mail marketing, e-Books and video marketing.
  3. Social Media Marketing is marketing on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

So these are the seven steps to start an online business…


Just as with Brick and Mortar shops, there’s no easy way to just star and make money. If you follow these steps to start an online business, you may soon identify your strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats that exist in the marketplace.

Good luck with you new venture!




You can create a Website in less than 20 minutes – then what?

It’s very easy to create a website. Why not? Almost every business and professional person of note has a website. Surely, if you create a website your business will flourish, and with billions of web users to target – wow, the money is there to be made.

A recent blog page by wix.com “7 Tips for Creating a Stunning Website for Free” achieved 3.7 million likes. Indeed, the people want websites.

So you can start to create a website. It’s very easy…

How to create a website

There are many posts that instruct you on how to create a website. The most mentioned steps are as follow:

  1. Search the internet to find a credible website host (e.g. Texo.co.za);
  2. Choose a website hosting plan;
  3. Pick a domain name;
  4. Fill in your details;
  5. Finish your registration; and
  6. Create a password.

A website host provides server hardware and network infrastructure so that your website can operate optimally. Texo, for example, also hosts WordPress, a free and open-source content management system.

In fact, WordPress powered 26% of the internet in 2016 (Manage WP).

Types of websites that you can create with WordPress

With WordPress, you can create about any type of website that you want. The Theme Country listed the 12 most popular WordPress websites:

  1. Blog or Personal Website – creating a blog or personal website is one of the most common reasons for using WordPress.
  2. News and Magazine Website – WordPress makes it easy to set up a news and magazine website.
  3. Business Website – you can choose from thousands of business themes for your WordPress site and then tweak the layout to better represent your business.
  4. eCommerce Website – there are several high-quality WordPress plugins and themes that incorporate eCommerce features.
  5. Online Job Board – create a community job board using WordPress. By using a forum theme for WordPress, you can easily organize job categories and create a space for people to post or find jobs.
  6. Business Directory – you can also use WordPress to create a business directory.
  7. Online Communities – create your own online community dedicated to a topic that you love. Share information with other people and use the subscriber option to build an email list.
  8. Portfolio Websites – showcase your talents with a portfolio website. There are hundreds of premium and free WordPress themes for setting up your own online portfolio.
  9. Knowledgebase / Wiki Websites – start building a large knowledgebase or wiki-style website using WordPress. One of the great features of WordPress is the ability to use categories and tags to categorize your content.
  10. Niche Affiliate Websites – affiliate marketing can be a useful way to earn extra money, especially if you go about it in the right way.
  11. Photography Websites -as with portfolio themes for WordPress, you will have a large variety of photography themes to choose from. These also focus on the images used on your website, instead of the content.
  12. School or College Websites – WordPress could be a useful option for creating a school or college website. You can easily design a professional website for the school or college while adding resources that faculty and students will find useful.

So, you’ve created a website, and chosen your website type – what now?

Because it’s relatively easy and cheap to create a website, many people only think about what to do with their site after it’s been activated. Some people spend lots of money promoting their new websites with AdWords and Facebook with little or no success.

As it should be with any other business, you need a business plan for your website. You can read more here: Every Business Needs A Business Plan. After you’ve established what business you’re going to do with your website, you need to find out where your business will come from.

If you want to make money from your website, you to make the following happen:

  • Get people to visit your website;
  • Give the visitors what they was looking for on your website;
  • Get them to subscribe, buy or contribute to your site;
  • Let their online experience be so great that they bookmark your site and tell their friends about it.

You therefore need to know:

  • Who are your audience? (your target audience).
  • What do they want from your website (their needs – problem solving, entertainment, etc.)
  • Where and how can you communicate with your target audience (your digital marketing strategy – e.g. on Facebook or Google’s AdWords?)
  • Who else is after your target audience? (Who are my competitors?)

I think you’ll now start to realise that it takes a lot of planning, money and knowledge to get your website to work for you.


So, next time you click on a link like: “How to make a million dollars with your website in 20 minutes”, you’ve helped the owner of the website to achieve her goal – getting traffic to her site. It’s good for her business (ad income), although not many users will return or register with her site. Then again, there’s billions or other users looking to make money online…

If it’s too good to be true, it is probably just that. To make honest money online takes a lot of time and resilience.



Video: Raiken Profit

Borrowing Money from a Bank to Start your Business

Borrowing money from a bank to start your business is not an obvious option for prospective business owners. Unless you are well known, with a track record of starting and running successful businesses, no formal sources of capital are likely to invest in you in the early stages of your business 1.  Banks usually require an operating history to reduce their risk.

“Banks love collateral. They swoon over profits. And they get positively dizzy over long-term performance records. Because of this, it’s difficult to get a loan from a bank to start a new business, which doesn’t have any collateral, profits or long-term success to back up your loan application” according to Master R Stell writing in NFIB.

What do you need to know when borrowing money from a bank to start your business

Banks demand a lot of info from prospective business owners before they will consider approving a loan.

  1. Collateral – your business has to have hard assets it can pledge to back up a business loan. Banks look very carefully at these assets to make sure they reduce the risk.
  2. Business plan – must show the banks how and where you’re going to make your money.
  3. All your personal financial detail – details on assets and liabilities such as your home, vehicles, investment accounts, credit card accounts, auto loans and mortgages.
  4. Insurance – banks may insist that applicants take out insurance against the deaths of one or more of the founders. And the fine print can direct the payout on death to go to the bank first, to pay off the loan.


Although there may be a lot of “red tape” evident when prospective business owners apply with a bank for start-up money, banks are at least making an effort to get involved. For example, some banks specialize in lending to small or new businesses. To decide whether a bank loan is right for your business, research both traditional loans and alternative funding sources. It’s also important to know your business inside and out.

Read also:

  1. Getting Money for Your Business – Other Individual Investors
  2. Start your Business: Borrow Money from Friends and Relatives
  3. Using Personal Savings to Start Your Business


1  Vinturella, J.B. and Erickson, S.M., 2003. Raising entrepreneurial capital, Academic Press.




Using Personal Savings to Start Your Business

You, the aspiring entrepreneur, frequently have three sources of getting money to start your business: (1) personal savings, (2) friends and relatives, and (3) other individual investors. Personal savings to start your business will now be discussed.

Personal savings to start your business

Using personal savings to start your business is most frequently used by prospective business owners. However, most of us probably don’t have enough savings to start our business properly. For that reason you need to do a thorough inventory of your assets. You are likely to uncover resources you didn’t even know you had.

Assets you may have can be savings accounts, equity in real estate, retirement accounts, vehicles, recreational equipment and collections. You may decide to sell some assets for cash or to use them as collateral for a loan.

There are a number of ways that you can consider to generate start-up cash to open your business (Entrepreneur Press):

  • Investments – low-interest-margin loans against stocks and securities can be arranged through your brokerage accounts;
  • Your home – consider getting a home equity loan on the part of the mortgage that you have already paid off. Depending on the value of your home, a home-equity loan could become a substantial line of credit;
  • Life insurance policies – you can use the value built up in a cash-value life insurance policy as a ready source of cash;
  • Your retirement plan – some retirement plans allow members to borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance. However, the loan has to be repaid in a short period of time;
  • Moonlighting (if you’re employed) – ensures you’ll have some steady funds rolling in until your business starts to soar.


Lastly, before investing all your savings and collateral in a new business, you need to know that the business has the potential to survive and grow. Therefore you need a business- and marketing plan to give you direction and to get customers to your business.

Read also: Why do you want to start your own business?



Every Business Needs A Business Plan

Many small businesses start without a business plan. There is no vision (where do they want to be?); or mission (how will they get there?). Nor do they have any goals or strategies.

Maybe the owner or manager is waiting for customers to stream into the store – and then blaming them for ignorance when they don’t. Soon the retailers will have lots of merchandise, but no cash. However, at the end of the month, the rent and salaries needed to be paid, and – maybe other types and styles of merchandise must be purchased to see if that will sell… And then cash runs out, and the store closes its doors. Every business needs a business plan.

Some suggests that a business plan is not needed. Randy Duermyer writing in ‘the balance’ that a business plan is not always needed qualifies his statement by commenting: “I’m not saying that it’s not important to plan before you start a business- it is critical.”

You might as well do a business plan.

What is a Business Plan?

‘A business plan is a workable written document prepared by the entrepreneur that describes all the relevant external and internal elements involved in starting a new venture’. It organizes all the information gathered by the entrepreneur and is therefore the first formal planning instrument.

A business plan has two basic objectives:

  • It identifies the nature and context of the business opportunity. (Why does the opportunity exist?); and
  • It explains how the entrepreneur will develop this opportunity.

The business plan is a detailed action plan or road map outlining every conceivable aspect of the proposed venture. The plan describes what, how, when, where and why with regard to the new venture. It is thus a structured guideline for achieving your business goals. The business plan must indicate the following:

  • What activities the enterprise will be engaged in?
  • What the mission, objectives and goals of the enterprise are?
  • What strategy must be followed to attain these goals? And
  • What control measures will be used if goals are not attained?


There are many templates available for small business owners to write their own business plans. That is a great start and maybe by doing it, you’ll recognize where the gaps are that needed to be filled before opening your business. Making use of a management consultant to help you with your business plan is a productive investment. Failing to plan is planning to fail…

Read also: Questions about your business that you should answer before starting your own business.


Cronje de J, G.J., Breebaart, H., De Klerk, A., Old, S., Swanepoel, E. and Van der Merwe, M.A. 2001. Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, Only study guide for MNE202-V, Department of Business Management, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA, PRETORIA.