How To Start Establishing An Online Business While In College

Starting a business in college can be one of the greatest teachers there is. Beyond what you could learn from any business or marketing classes, the best way you’re going to learn about the real world is by going out and experiencing it on your own. Granted, as you’re probably not trying to take on a ton of risk while in school, if starting a business is a goal of yours, then shifting towards an online model might be a better option. However, that’s why we’re going to run through a few key points to get going with your web business in no time. Here’s how:

Come Up With A Standout Brand

With thousands (if not millions) of companies online doing something similar to what you might be, coming up with a solid brand is an absolute must. The ideal brand is going to be something that people can look at immediately have an idea for the type of business you conduct, as well as what’s the personality of your company. Subconsciously, this can make a significant difference in consumer behavior because as noted by LucidPress, 64 percent of consumers cite shared values as the reason they do business with a brand. Capturing that won’t be easy, but is well worth the long-term investment attached.

Before you go off firing up mockups in PhotoShop, one of the first considerations you should make is how this brand will come off in the industry you’re trying to enter. Do you envision being something warm and welcoming or cold and stern? Depending upon your budget, it might not be a bad idea to hire a designer to help with your logo or identity work, especially if you feel as though their work resembles the overall aesthetic you want to display. While often overlooked, an exceptional brand is one of the best investments you could make, so take your time in carving out what you truly stand for.

Know Your Revenue Model

Once you’ve established the personality of your online company, it’s time to start deciphering your revenue model. Even though you probably have a rough idea on how you’re going to make money, drafting this out as a plan can make a world of difference. Remember, cash flow is what will keep your business afloat, which is why 82 percent of businesses fail without it; and for something that important, having a written out plan in place is crucial.

Draft out the overall model you’d consider your online business falls under, whether that be eCommerce, virtual consulting, or content generation. Next, clearly outline who your customers are, how you plan to bring them in, as well as any potential limitations along the way. Furthermore, it might not be a bad idea to run through a few traditional business plan roadmaps to get a good feel for the other aspects you may not have accounted for. The more you’re able to run through your model, the better, giving a better feeling that you’ve hit every aspect necessary to be successful.

Create An Amazing Site

As the hub for your online business, having a stellar website is a must to attract customers. Although we often consider this the number of bells and whistles we can throw into it, a well-designed website is one that focuses on function first. For instance, as noted by Impact Bound, 52 percent of users in a survey stated that a negative mobile experience made them less likely to interact with a company; which although it’s awesome to have a responsive design, that’s wildly different than having a functional mobile site. However, no worries if these are relatively new concepts for you, as they’re much more intuitive than you might imagine.

The first thing you need to decide on with your site is the type of engagement you’re looking to have with it. An excellent example of this is utilizing a service like Ning, which enables you to create a social network or hub within your site, increasing peer-to-peer behavior. This can be great if you produce a lot of content or want people talking about specific items. While it’s not a bad idea to use a template, try to only borrow the aspects from them that make sense for your design flow. Remember, every website should have an end-goal, and whether that be finishing a sale, setting up an appointment, or even signing up for your email blast, focus towards whatever that mission will be.

Have A Strong Social Presence

Finally, if there’s one area that’s going to feel the most natural to you (while also generating solid inbound traffic), it has to be social media. Not only can social media provide an excellent ROI for the amount of work you put in, but also serves as a hub for customer service as well as feedback on your product or service. As a practice that’s half storytelling as much as it science, social can be one of the more effective means of promoting your brand, as long as you follow some simple marketing practices.

One of the first things you should consider with social is finding your audience. For example, according to Pew Research, 71 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds are currently on Instagram, which if you’re aiming to reach your peers, then that’s an excellent place to start. From there, establishing authority by gaining followers quickly can be a smart move, especially if you’re a relatively new company. In getting a routine, the practice of social is a lot of looking at the metrics (I.E., comments, likes) including the quality and consistency you’re outputting as well; because even though it might sound tedious, the more you get into it, social will start to feel intuitive to conduct on your day-to-day.

What are you most excited about in starting your first business? Comment with your answers below!