How To Start An Online Business in 2020 (Step-By-Step)

how to start online business

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We’re finally reaching the end of 2020 and everywhere you look, retail store fronts are closing, while e-commerce companies are booming. Just look at Amazon, Shopify, and Etsy. People are realizing how convenient it is to shop online and even schedule business services all from the tip of their fingertips. Starting an online business doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Whether you’re thinking about opening an online store or business service, CuriousCheck will teach you exactly what you need to do in order to get your business idea up and running online, as fast and in the most affordable way possible.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to spend some cash to get started. There’s no free way and if blogs claim there’s a free way, they’re lying.  

Here’s your Online Business Check-List so you can get started! 

Create a Logo

Your first step should be creating a logo. Don’t lose too much sleep over this (So many people do). You can find cheap and professional logo builders on FIVERR or create one on Canva. Pick a logo and move on to the next step. 

Pick a Domain Name and Hosting

A domain is basically your website name. You can go to sites like GoDaddy for simple websites, however our top favorites that are less expensive and faster than Godaddy, is Dreamhost (Fastest) and LiquidWeb (Great Security) and Bluehost (Cheapest, but support isn’t the best) and Domain.com. Some things to think about is that having a specific keyword in your domain helps tremendously with SEO. For instance, AtlantaSEO.com would help you rank for that specific Keyword easily.

The Hosting is referred to as a place where you store your website files. When someone enters the domain name of your site in the URL bar, the domain name is translated into an IP address of your web hosting company’s computer. The companies mentioned above also provide Hosting services so you may as well use the same company for both (even though you don’t have to). 

So, a domain name and hosting are the essential and fundamental ingredients to start an online business.

SSL Certificate

After building a website and buying domain hosting, getting an SSL certificate is crucial. Google is becoming more and more strict about requiring one. During 2020 and beyond, they’re wanting all websites to have a SSL certificate for security (It’s that lock sign on the top left side of your browser). They usually run cheap around $100 a year and you can get them at any of the hosting sites, we mentioned above.

In a nutshell, a SSL certificate protects the sensitive and important information on your site when it travels across the world. This ensures that only authorized users can read the sensitive information.

Register Your Business

Even though you’re probably not making money yet with your online business, you need to get it registered with the government. Each state has their own state regulations. In the USA, you can sometimes sign up online, but in numerous areas you need to go in person. Companies like ZenBusiness can help you for as low as $49 to start plus state fees. We highly recommend this service if you’re planning on also setting up a registered agent, as it’s a highly complicated process. Other similar companies, like LegalZoom help as well, but they’re almost double the price.  

If you’re in Canada, Ownr makes it extremely easy to start an online business. 

Build Your Site With a Website Builder

Obviously while starting an online business you need to build a website. Typically you have two paths to take here, either pay for a web design company like CuriousCheck or test your creative skills out using a website builder. For extremely novice business owners and entrepreneurs, we highly recommend Wix or Bookmark. Wix let’s you create stunning blog sites, service websites, and even e-commerce sites, and even helps with basic SEO optimization. Bookmark is an AI-powered website builder that can create sites in minutes. For more custom options and robust sites, WordPress is our top choice; however, it’s much less user-friendly for first-time website makers. 

Two WordPress plugins we highly suggest is getting the free Yoast for SEO and then Elementor for the web building side. Elementor makes your site look sleek and modern and is compatible with most themes. 

Accounting Software

Most entrepreneurs (including us in the beginning) overlooked this. As usual, Quickbooks is a solid choice for almost any business due to their integration partners. If you’re thinking of using an ecommerce site you’ll definitely want to use TaxJar instead as they’re brilliant in organizing and setting up your specific datasets to make sure you’re saving as much money as possible. If you’re short on cash and your business isn’t too complicated, try Wave! It’s free and highly rated. We used it for our first year in business with absolutely no complaints. 

Get a Virtual Address

In 2020, there’s no reason for you to pay for an expensive PO Box or risk using your personal address. PO Boxes usually run around $50 a month and you have to drive to the spot to retrieve your mail. With a Virtual Address like our favorite, Anytime Mailbox, you’ll get a real address number for literally 8.99 – 12.99 a month…depending on the location you need. Virtual mailboxes scan your mail, provide cellphone notifications, and can even deposit your checks all remotely. Even more important, you can use these addresses to help with local SEO campaigns.

We’ve tested numerous virtual mailboxes and our favorites that we use and refer our clients are Anytime Mailbox (best support and user experience) and iPostal1.

Use a Virtual Phone

Why spend money on two phones? Phone.com makes it extremely easy to setup a forwarding work number to your cellphone. It even comes with call queue, music, or directory dialing. You can pick almost any location in the USA and price starts at $12.99… even with a Toll-Free number. Setup is extremely easy, and in most occasions we simply told the livechat exactly what we wanted to do and they set it up for us in no time.   

ChatBot and LiveChat

We’ve all seen chatbots before on websites. You’ve probably noticed the difference between annoying chatbots and extremely useful ones. CuriousCheck has tested all these below. On top of that, all these chatbots & Livechats all have at least 4/5 stars on all credible review sites. 
1. Collect.chat and Chatbot are the best chatbots for appointment booking and customer service  
2. Octane AI is the best for the Shopify e-commerce platform
3. LiveChat wins for the ease of setting up live reps and organizing data. 

SEO Tools

Starting with a solid SEO plan is a MUST-HAVE in today’s world. You want to rank for your most important keywords to gain as much organic traffic as possible. SEMrush for advanced users and Diib for complete novices are great starting points…however, these tools simply tell you what you need to do and you need to invest a lot of hours a month for SEO to be successful. 

If you need hands-on help and you’re in the Human Resources, Background Screening, Legal Fields, construction, SaaS or e-commerce small business CuriousCheck will rank you quickly and consult you the whole way. Be extremely cautious with SEO companies that do NOT understand your business model, as they will build the wrong foundation for you from the beginning. You will then have to pay to fix their errors. 

Review Websites

Whether you’re a local business or a national business, signing up for industry specific review sites are a must for small business. Social Proof is more important than ever. Here are sites that you should sign up for and start asking customers, vendors and partners to leave reviews as soon as possible. 

Google likes to read and the more relevant content your reviewers leave the better. That’s why it’s crucial to ALWAYS respond to your reviews and if possible add some relevant words along the way.  

Once you have reviews, you can embed a review widgets to add on your website. This will not only bring social proof, but help with SEO.

Top Free Business Review Sites: 

1. Google My Business
2. Trustpilot
3. G2
4. Capterra
5. Software Advice
6. Clutch.co (For Marketing Agencies)
7. Facebook
8. Amazon

Top Paid Review Sites:
1. Better Business Bureau 
2. Yelp (For Local Only)

Reach out for our full list! 

Credit Card Processing Companies

Once your business is settled, we highly suggest you move away from Paypal or Stripe. We get it, PayPal and Stripe are partners with literally everyone so it’s easy to assume you have no choices beyond this. If you’re in a High-Risk Business or making at least $5k a month check out these credit card processing companies that have much lower fees than PayPal and Stripe. 

Now Make Money 

See, starting an online business doesn’t have to be that hard. You need to simply take everything day-by-day and step-by-step or you’ll be overwhelmed. Stay tuned for our next blog explaining what to do get more customers to cross the finish line! 

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