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How to Start a Service Business Online

Have you ever sat down and thought of starting an online business, selling a service? An online service business will enable you to provide your services online and get paid for it. This way has distinct advantages. Two of the best things about this type of business is that you can start it up from the comfort of your own home, and it’s very affordable. You can simply start an online service business at an affordable price.

Who can sell a service? The answer is simple: anyone and everyone. Each and every person is qualified to do this. We all have different skills, knowledge or experience for which others are willing to pay. This could be a service, teaching skills or imparting knowledge. You basically need to proide something lacking.

Too often you will come across colleagues, friends or even relatives who complain about having great business ideas but lack starting capital. This is a common excuse, but not a valid reason. If you are confident about your skills or a service that you can provide, don’t let the lack of capital stop you from reaching your goals and achieving success. Get creative and start your service business.

The art of selling services online knows no boundaries. Anyone with a need or desire to work online to earn some extra cash, or to start and operate a full-time business. He or she can sell a service regardless of age, business experience, financial resources or education.

The Advantages Include:

  • you host your own site
  • you are your own boss
  • you get to identify the right business for you, giving yourself permission to explore
  • you manage your own business
  • you are also responsible for the outcomes,  good and bad.

Guidelines for Starting a Service Business Online

1. Determine What Services You’re Going to Sell

Choosing what kind of service to sell online is a key decision. No matter what idea you have, or how developed it already is, put some thought into what you are going to deliver. Try to stick with what you know. You’ll have more chance of success if it’s something you love doing and that you’re passionate about. It might even be something unique that no one else has ever thought of doing. Focus on your experiences in that specific field. Enter an industry with which you’re intimately familiar, and offer products or services that you would use and pay for yourself. Become the expert in your chosen field.

Focus on What Makes You Stand Out

when you’re passionate about something, selling it becomes more personal. As such it feels less like a transaction. It’s no good starting up a business that doesn’t fit your personality. Although services are not physical products, you need to think of yourself and your services as a product. You’re literally selling your expertise, time, knowledge and skills to help your customers achieve their desired outcome. You are a product!

Focus on Solving a Common Problem

Is there a gap in the market? Is there a new service you would like to introduce to the market? Is it possible for you to introduce that type of business? If the answer is Yes, you have to make sure that you invest time in understanding that field before starting the business.

You Need to Ask Yourself The Following Questions:

  • What makes you different from other service providers in the same field?
  • How can you package and sell the skills or services you are offering in a unique way?
  • What are your superpowers?
  • Do you have objectives, strategies and action plans set up to achieve success in running your business?
  • Which online platform will you use?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What kind of guarantee do you offer?
  • How will your services be delivered?
  • Will you enjoy running the business, and does it match your personality type and level of maturity?
  • Are these services marketable?
  • Who exactly is going to pay for your services?
  • How do your services help people?
  • What value will it generate?
  • Is this something your target audience would really want to bu?
  • Is this something you think they would want?

2. Research and Know What You Need to Get Started

After you have completed your research and decided on the service you want to sell or provide, it’s time to figure out what you need to get started. This may include finances. Some of the main things you may need to do are:

  • Choose a Business Name

If you want to stand out, choose a unique name. Look for something attractive and creative that can attract potential customers to your site. Make it short and memorable.  Make it simple. Avoid using too many words, this makes it hard for people to remember the name of your brand. Make sure the domain name is available, otherwise your business will not be available on the internet.

  • Check the Trademark

After selecting a name for your business, check whether it’s trademarked, being used by someone else and whether it’s available for registration. This process is very simple. Just search “trademark search + your country” in order to find the appropriate database to use.

  • Scope Out a Domain

Once you are sure you can claim the name, check whether you can get a .com address. If you can’t, it’s time to get creative. For example, you can use your country (.ke, .uk) or even your location (e.g. “California”) as the domain name suffix (end of the domain name).

  • Find out whether your country requires you to register your business. If so, search “register a business + your country name”, then visit your official government site to see what steps you need to take.
  • Make a Logo for Your Business

You will need a logo for the header of your website. Apply your brand colors and fonts on places like headings. People tend to remember companies and businesses based on a visual graphic, be it a logo or a label. It’s harder to remember long and complicated business names. Think about how your business name will appear on the logo. This may depend on the services you want to offer. Think, too about the kind of logos you like.

  • Open a bank account or set up the payment method you prefer. This is the account into which customer payments will arrive. Make sure it’s easily accessible for customers. You can also connect to a payment processor like PayPal.
  • Gain Certification or Training

The field you are entering may require that you prove your skills or services. If so, consider training or certification. For example, in some fields like guidance and counseling, you may need a degree or masters in psychology; in the web design field, you may require a qualification in computer science or a computing-related field.

  • Gather Your Online Tools

If you are running the business as a sole trader, you may need some tools to run it smoothly. These tools may include online phone services, payment processors for online transactions and accounting software. Bear in mind that some software may require a subscription.

  • Set Up a Website

A website is an ideal place to present your portfolio, communicate your experience and explain the benefits you are offering. Think about the most important information your potential customers are looking for and make sure it’s easy to find on your website. Make it mobile friendly.

What to Include on Your Website:

  • Homepage

This should include a short description of what you do and the services you are offering. Make it easy for customers to contact you. You should include at least two or three of the following basics: your business phone number, a linked email address, a physical mailing address, fax number. Ensure that this information is highly visible and easily accessible from every page of your site, eg in the footer. You should also include a “learn more” option that directs the user to more information about the services you are offering. Also, include a “help me” option to help your customers navigate around your website, making it user-friendly.

  • About Page

This is where you basically tell your story. Explain why you started your business and outline your qualifications, expertise, and credentials. You can also talk about your mission and your vision.

  • Services and Pricing

List all the services you are offering and the benefits of each one. Include the price of each as well. You can also ask the customers to contact you for pricing information using the contact information on your website.

3. Ensure That People are Going to Be Comfortable Paying for Your Services

I know this may sound obvious, but it’s a critical determining factor for your success. Different people have different opinions and attitudes. You have to do market research first, and understand and learn from your competitors. You need to learn more about potential customers. For example, if you were a customer, would you pay for the services you plan to start offering? Would you be comfortable paying for the service?

4. Learn More About the Services You are Going to Offer

Provide services based on skills you already have a grounding in. Take your time to learn more about your field, the business and the market. Research what will make your service business a success, and what could make it fail. Ask for advice from people you know who are running similar businesses to yours, or just running successful online businesses. Learn about the measures to take in order to gain profits and to avoid failure. Take note of what your competitors are doing to fill any market demand.

5. Start Small and Grow Big

This allows you to study the market and experience what it takes to run a business. Take time to learn more about potential customers. Leverage all your knowledge and experience as much as possible. Always turn what you have learned into meaningful action. Never stop learning. I found some great inspirational quotes on Success.com about it.

6. Carry Out Market Research and Understand the Market

Not everyone on the web will be interested in your services. It’s important to understand the overall market in which you are going to operate. You also need to understand your competition. Some people starting out make the same mistakes of looking for a service to offer before taking into consideration the market for that particular service. To boost your chances of success in your business, start by studying the market. Conduct market research online. The internet makes this kind of research easy. Find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem.

•           Do keyword research to find the most common keywords to which

not many sites are providing the answers.                

•           Visit various online platforms to see what questions most people are asking without getting answers. What problems are they trying to solve?

Online Service Business Ideas

Some of These Ideas Include:

  1. Freelancing – online writing
  2. Guidance and counseling – offering guidance and counseling
  3. Online surveys
  4. Virtual assistant
  5. Business coach
  6. Ebook author
  7. Online course creator
  8. Social media influencer
  9. Social media manager
  10. Social media consultant
  11. Affiliate marketer
  12. Podcaster
  13. Web design
  14. Writing
  15. Data analysis
  16. Editing
  17. Graphics design

7. Learn Your Legal Requirements

Obviously, every business has some regulation that enables it to operate. Research whether there are requirements needed to obtain any permits and licensing for your area of expertise. Learn about tax obligations for running online businesses.

8. Create a Business Plan

Business planning improves your chances of success. A business plan helps you gain focus, clarity and confidence, and acts as a road map. As you write down your goals, strategies and actions, your business will become a reality. You can also use this business plan for future reference. The business plan consists of:

  • The marketing plan
  • The operation plan
  • The management plan
  • The financial plan.

Marketing Plan

This entails how you are planning on reaching your target potential customers. The overall market and the target market. There are various ways in which you can attract your first customers:

Social Media

Social media is all about building a community. Most people are on social media to be informed or entertained. After launching your website, open accounts on various social media platforms that target your potential customers regularly. These may include Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Snapchat, depending on your target market. Develop content that speaks to your audience directly. Use these social networks as pointer sites to anything you think will be of interest to your target customers.

  • Create Profiles on Industry-Specific Sites

You can post your services on industry-specific sites. These are platforms that your target customers regularly visit.

  • Get the Word Out

Inform your family, colleagues and friends about your business. Spread the word. You can even offer them discounts or free consultations.

“My first client was a close friend of mine. I believe that is where everyone should start because there will be some mistakes and lessons learnt with  every project and having them happen with a close friend can soften the hardship of learning.” – Maria Bowers, B Design

Operation Plan

This is how you plan to run and operate your business. These are the measures you going to take to ensure your business produces the best outcome. This may include your pricing. There are some factors that you should consider when setting your price.

  • Hourly Pricing –this is the simplest pricing method, which most people understand. It involves charging the services you offer on a per hour basis.
  • Packaging Pricing – this where you charge a flat fee for a service or a combination of services.
  • Combination Pricing – you can combine the price of offering a particular service.

Management Plan

This is how you will manage your business. Since you are running the business alone, you will set your own rules and list the work you are supposed to do.

Financial Plan

This may include your exit strategy (an exit from an investment), the break-even analysis, projected profit and loss, projected cash flow, projected balance sheet, and business ratios.

Access Your Capital Needs

You will need to do this if you require any amount of money. Without a clear idea, you run the risk of coming up with an unrealistic valuation of your business. Before you start considering how you can raise money, focus on evaluating your funding requirements. How much do you need to get started? Once you know, figure out how you are going to acquire the funds. Can you turn to your savings? Alternatively, you might consider getting a loan from a bank or an investor, or even a family member or friend.

After starting your service business online, what’s next? You then need to evaluate your business: what’s working and not working? Think about how you are acquiring customers, making money and managing your time.

How to Enhance Growth After Starting the Service Business Online

Pursue Partnerships

Find other possible businesses you could partner with. For instance, many social media influencers partner with companies and get paid for it.

Prove Your Ability to Deliver Measurable Results

People will want to see proof that you have delivered great results for other clients. You must show that you are flexible to meet your client’s unique needs and also make sure that you can keep client information confidential.

Establish an Expert Reputation for Yourself

Most people use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites. You will get more traffic and better search rankings. Always remember to include a link to your site.

1. Become an active expert in social media networking sites and industry forums where your target market hangs out. This may help you reach out to them.

2. Give away free expert content. Create videos, write articles or other content that people will find useful. Distribute the content through social media sites.

3. Always include links to valuable content on your website. For example, send a potential client link to sites that can confirm your authenticity. This will lead to more views on your site. They may check out the services you are offering to be assured.

Encourage Referrals and Repeat Customers

Follow up on existing clients. Ask them questions: Are they happy with the services you offered them? Do they know of someone else who can benefit from these services? Is there anything else that you can do for them?

If you have done a good job for someone, they will be more than happy to refer their friends and colleagues to you.

Service businesses that succeed are able to differentiate and define themselves in a world filled with competitors, where it’s difficult to get people’s attention. The way your target customers think about your services and skills also matters. It’s always good to ask your customers for feedback on the services you offered to them. Write down your missions, your goals, desires and what you aim to get by providing these services. Also, never stop learning new things that may improve your offerings. Most successful people take their time and constantly learn more about their field of business and their market target.

About Peter Lee

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