In this article Sarang Khanna, Content Marketing Executive at iPleaders, talks about the basic things to keep in mind while turning your passion into an online business.
Look around, and there will always be someone in sight who is running an online business. Look some more, and the cousin brother, the maternal aunt, the part time cook, everyone is either running or contemplating to run a successful business online. With the advent of internet and technology, the scope of starting up is only shooting up.
The idea of having an online business is a fairly average one, and most of these ideas die a sudden death because there is little knowledge of how to proceed. The failure to take step no. 2 is where most business plans find the dust. Tapping the business potential of one’s passion requires one to effectively envisage a business plan and then materialize the same.
Below are some considerations to start thinking on, in order to effectively transition from passion to business.
Identify Your Product Or Service
Your passion can be anything. It can flow from your field of work, your childhood hobbies, your inborn talent, or even something that you are currently figuring out yourself. If you have established that there might be an audience for a product or a service, then there is also a business potential to be maximized on.
Don’t we all know of a business that was once started through a blog? Of course, we do. If you like writing, blogs are a great first step towards building a brand and then effectively turning it into a business. Not a writing person though? No problem, host a podcast. Portals like iTunes and others can instantly get you an audience of millions to talk to. Where you take it from there is up to you. An added advantage is that you don’t have to be an expert as a podcast host. You can just invite experts to talk on different subjects and grow and learn together with the community.
Blogs and podcasts are just two in the whole sea of options. Often, the simplest and most obvious ideas make the biggest businesses. Vijaya Pastala’s startup called Under the Mango Tree is one such example that got successful by just packaging and selling honey. It had an annual turnover of INR 60 Lakhs. It got featured in a piece done by Economic Times amongst many other similar simple ideas that made millions.
Be Unique And Innovate
By unique innovation I don’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel, but carving a space for your brand is important. To be a business, you need to be able to sell; and to sell you need to market. We will come to marketing later in the article, in just a bit, but to manage to do it effectively, we must first find our niche. (Order, you see? Order is crucial. Always remember.)
If you venture into a space that is already brimming with top end players, what are the chances of you even being noticed, let alone surviving? Do you think you could open another Flipkart or Amazon right now? Of course not. Never be the second Facebook. First movers advantage is not just a term, it’s a principle. For first movers, even their competition is their advertisement.
But if you create an online business that has found a niche that will never decline, you exponentially increase your chances of building something long lasting. Something that will grow and generate for years to come. So, don’t try too hard, but figure out your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Don’t Forget The Legal Checklist
Now that you have decided to start your own business, it’s only sensible for us to remind you of the legal requirements of setting up an online business. The legal requirements in India can be fairly extensive and intimidating, but having in-depth knowledge about them is your only recourse. Do you think you can comfortably manage it on your own? Read ahead to find out.
Registration – The incorporation of your company will require you to get it registered. Sole proprietorship, LLP, one person company, partnership firm are some of the types of business structures you would have to choose from. Each of these types have distinct features with pros and cons. To know more about which company structure would best suit your needs, you can read this article by my friend Aditya for the best understanding.
VAT Registration – Apart from just basic registration of your company, online businesses require an additional VAT registration to facilitate online transactions. This can be done at the Sales Tax Department of the subject State.
Payment Gateways – To process online transactions, a recognized payment gateway is required. It provides access to your customers to make transactions via credit cards, debit cards, online banking, etc. Although a payment gateway is not a mandatory requirement if you are not a marketplace and/or have collaborated with another platform for sales transactions.
Bank Account – Bank account in the name of your company or LLP is a must. Once your company/LLP is VAT registered, it is eligible to have a bank account in its name. No company without a bank account can be given access to online payment gateway.
Compliance with Cyber and other laws – Ensuring cyber law compliances is another requirement for your online business. Cyber due diligence is extremely strict in India and you do not want to be compromising on that front. Further, your business will often require to deal and comply with various contract laws, labour laws and other relevant laws, and you must be extra cautious on this front so as to attract legal implications. More about everything related to business laws can be learnt here.
Legal agreements and documents – For your online business, you will need proper documentation and contracts to protect it from any hassles. Be it for sales, company policies, co-founder/employee/vendor agreements, or any other documents. You need to draft various agreements for smooth functioning of your enterprise. As tough and intimidating as it may sound, contract drafting is not solely a lawyer’s job. Getting these contracts made can cost your new startup a huge hole in the pocket, and when there are more genuine uses for the limited finances that you have, this expenditure can definitely be avoided. Online resources can prove to be of major help and you can draft all these documents and agreements on your own, with no external help required.
Finally, market and monetize
The acceleration of your online business is improbable if you don’t have a strong marketing or advertising strategy in place. Whether it is by the means of social media, content marketing, affiliate marketing, or one of the other ‘n’ number of ways it can be done, marketing is vital to make your brand grow.
After you have successfully found the niche of your business operations, you must advise a plan to draw traffic and turn them into your long term customers. Engaging with your community can be really effective and asking for feedback directly from potential customers really helps.
The details of online marketing require dealing with SEO, SEM, Content, Affiliation, Google Adsense, Sponsorships, among others, but there are various ways of doing marketing for free as well. Multimedia platforms like YouTube, Instagram, etc. are a popular way. Joining a community relevant to your product and audience is another alternate to be recognized in the community and it costs nothing.
Overall, building trust with your user base is important to your new business and you can find several ways of doing that. Both free and expensive, marketing ways can rightly be said to be the single most important thing to take your business to new heights. Extensive literature is available online to help you understand the fundamentals of marketing best suitable for your business.
Lastly, turning your passion into a business is not only an opportunity to make a living along with doing something you love, but it also sets you up for long term success. Most importantly, when passion is central to making decisions and long term interests of the company and customers are kept in mind, it ensures sustainability and longevity for your brand.
In time, when setting up and making money through an online business has become so accessible, it is only practical to be completely prepared before commencing on this journey of a lifetime. Starting and sustaining a business is tough and no one wants to experiment and get it wrong. The best way is to learn and understand the basics of entrepreneurship, and tread with confident footsteps with the shield of knowledge.
Here’s hoping for a bright future for you and your dreams!