How to start an online business

Want to start your very own online business? Our latest blog guides you through some things you can do to get from an idea to a functioning online business.

In today’s digital-savvy world, we’re all connected and engaging with brands and each other more than ever before. Gone is the need to think about a brick-and-mortar store when you start a new business, it can all be done from the comfort of your own home – if you really want it to.

In this blog, we’ll look at how to start an online business and walk you through the steps you need to take to get up and running. 

Coming out of a global pandemic may not feel like the most opportune time to start a business. But with us all spending far more time at home over the last few months and having to relearn the ways we shop, find new products etc. starting an online business is probably the best way to go about it right now. The 2008 recession saw companies such as Airbnb and Uber emerge whereas COVID has seen cafes and restaurants repurpose into delis and home delivery services. 

What’s your online business idea?

The idea

The best place to start is the beginning. Whether you’re ready to stop working for other people and go it alone or have found a great niche in the market that isn’t currently being fulfilled, having a great business idea is the start of it all. 

There are a whole host of online businesses out there from e-comm websites to online tutoring and advice services. A few examples of online businesses your idea could fall into are:

  • E-commerce store (selling products online)

  • Creative services (copywriting, graphic design, illustration etc.)

  • Software (CRM tools, cloud-based servers etc.)

  • Consultancy/Agency (PR, SEO, creative etc.) 

That isn’t all of them though. Whatever it is you’re wanting to do with your online business, these days it’s possible. 

The name

Choosing the right name for your business is important. Picking the right name can cement your business in people’s mind and make you a household name. 

But, choosing an original name that you can also get a domain and social handles for, is difficult with the vast number of businesses that have developed over time. 

Think about it simply. Are you an agency? If so, why not start with something as simple as your name with ‘agency’ at the end or try including the location of your business. Or you could go the opposite way and opt for something that’s a bit more out there. You might have a bit of luck and find something that no one else has gone in for yet. 

Why not start by writing down what your perfect name for your business would be and then check it against the list of registered businesses with Companies House. This gives you a list of all the registered businesses in the UK. If you search for what you want your business to be called and it’s taken, think of your next idea and keep trying. 

Once you’ve found the name you want for your business, register it. Want some more information on registering with Companies House? Check out our guide to setting up as a limited company

The domain

You’ve secured your business name, but to be an online business, you’re going to need a website. Securing the domain for your company website is important as it’s where your customers will come to interact and find out more about your product or services. 

The most common tips for choosing the right domain name are:

  • Keep it short: around 10 characters or less are the easiest to remember 

  • Letters and numbers: keep special characters, abbreviations etc. to a minimum 

  • Brand your domain name: if it’s available, you could just use your company name as your URL

  • Localise: if you only sell in the UK, why not go with a .co.uk domain over a .com one

The website 

If you were an artist, this would be your gallery space. This is where potential customers will meet you for the first time and get to know more about what you do. 

You want people to know who you are, what you do and what they can get from you. It’s the virtual shop window of your business. 

Here are a few ideas of things you might want to include on your website:

  • Who you are 

  • What you do 

  • Pricing and product descriptions

  • Customer testimonials 

  • Contact information 

  • Links to social media or email subscription bar

Your website is the central point of your online business so you want to try and make sure that it hits all the points when it comes to your branding and product. 

Want to find out more about how to get customers to your business? Check out our beginners guide to social media.

By Mettle

You might also like

A guide to setting up a business

A beginners guide to social media

The Mettle account is an e-money account provided by Prepay Solutions (PPS), a trading name of Prepay Technologies Ltd which is an electronic money institution authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (FRN 900010) for the issuing of electronic money. Mastercard® is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Registered office: 250 Bishopsgate, London, United Kingdom EC2M 4AA

NatWest