Last updated on September 2nd, 2020. Posted in Online Business Skills.
How to start your own business online -- Building a business website might seem overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts. In fact, you may even be asking yourself, "Should I start a business online in the first place?" After all, you don't want to start down the path...only to discover that none of this is for you. So here, you'll get a detailed look at what's involved in starting your own business online. And, you'll get a detailed look at how to start your own business online right -- the first time!
Ready to see how to start your own business online? This detailed guide breaks down all the components, methods, and approaches for how to get your business website started. There's certainly a lot that goes into starting a new business online. The purpose of this guide is to help get you started with the best, most modern tools and methods for starting and building your business website.
As I'm sure you'll agree, there's a lot to getting your business website built. In this guide, you'll get all the moving parts broken down into simple, digestible parts.
We'll start by addressing a huge question, "Should I start a business?" It's hugely important to make sure this is the sort of thing you want to do.
Next, you'll discover the two ways that you can get your business website built -- and which one gives you the most control (and also costs the least).
After that, we'll touch on different platforms you can use to build your website with. Then, we'll address the 3 cornerstones that are crucial to your business website's success.
Finally, you'll get a breakdown of the 5 different ways to build a website for your business...and find out which approach is the best.
I hope that sounds great. Let's get started!
"Should I start a business in the first place?" -- Are you asking yourself this?
There can be great times to start an online business, and lousy times. How can you know if it's the right time? The truth is, the timing never feels right. You can't psych yourself up for it, say a bunch of affirmations, or talk yourself into it though a mirror or self-help seminar.
You just do it.
You do it because you want to. You do it because you have to. Because it matters and because it's important and because there's people in the world who you want to help.
And you do it because maybe because you have people counting on you.
That said, there actually is a bad time to start a business...And that's any time you want to start a mediocre business.
What's a mediocre business?
A mediocre business is a business that's average. A mediocre business is a business that's a copy cat duplicate of someone else's business. A mediocre business is a business that exists to serve the needs of the person who started the business, not the needs of customers with problems. A mediocre business is a business that thinks lowering their prices is shrewd and cunning marketing.
It's always a terrible time to start a mediocre business...because these sorts of businesses fail.
Because they aren't unique...they aren't helping anyone very much...and they exist for all the wrong reasons.
For these sorts of businesses, it's always a bad time to start.
So, start the right kind of business. Then, it's always a great time to start!
So if it's the right kind of business you want to start -- a business that puts the needs of it's customers first -- then you're ready for what's next.
And that's seeing how you can start building your business...
If you'll be building the right kind of business, a business that serves the needs of it's customers first, then the next logical step is to determine how you'll build your business website.
There are essentially two ways to get your business website built: You can hire someone to build your business website for you, or you can learn how to build your business website yourself.
There are pros and cons to each, so let's take a look.
The first (and maybe the most obvious) approach to getting your business website online is to hire a freelance web developer or designer to build your site for you.
The big benefit of going this route is that you won't have to wade into anything too technical. Instead, someone else will handle building your business website for you.
But there are a variety of drawbacks to going with this approach...
First, this is the most expensive way to get your business website built. Getting a website built for your business isn't cheap. And, what about ongoing changes, fixes, and updates?
You'll not only have to pay to have your site built initially, but you'll also have to pay for ongoing maintenance, updates, and any changes you want. And that's where costs really add up.
Another big drawback is control. What I mean is, if you hire someone to build and run your business website for you, you must rely on them entirely.
This means that you'll be dependent on their schedule, and stuck with their hourly rates.
But of course, there's another approach...
A better option is to learn how to build your business website yourself.
And the great news is, building a website for your business is not nearly as hard or frustrating as it might seem.
Modern tools make it very easy for just about anyone to build a website. Forget about complicated code or technical software. If you can use a mouse and keyboard -- if you have even just general computer skills -- you can build a beautiful, modern website in a short period of time.
And, it costs far, far less to build your business website yourself.
And here's what's great: If you took just a little bit of time to learn web design, you'd have a set of powerful skills...skills that you can use on any web projects and online businesses you want to run in the future.
In other words, learn web design just once...and you'll have a set of skills you can use forever!
What's more, rather than relying on expensive, flaky freelance designers (who never seem to be available when you need them...who don't care about your business nearly as much as you do), now you can handle it all yourself.
And here's a big, dirty secret that freelance web designers don't want you to know...
The modern tools, methods, and approaches that freelance web designers use are easy for anyone to learn. Many don't involve code or anything overly technical at all!
Later on, we'll talk about some of these simple, easy web design tools that you can use.
And, learning how to build and run your business website yourself means you can make fixes, changes, and tweaks to your website anytime you like.
This approach puts you in full control of your website and your business online. And it's really not that hard!
In fact, I have a free online workshop that goes into much more detail on this. Definitely check it out.
And so, it's this approach we'll be using to get your business website online. But this brings up a big, hairy question: "How can I build my own business website?" After all, there are plenty of modern tools and options available. And it can be overwhelming to sort through it all.
So the rest of this article details out all the building blocks and steps you'll need to build and run your business website yourself.
So that said, let's now discuss exactly what's involved in building your business website yourself...
Next, knowing that you'll be handling things yourself, you'll need to sort out the best ways to build your business website yourself.
Here, I'm talking about the platform or the software you'll use to build your website. And the last thing we want to do is use the wrong tools and services.
I'm sure you've heard the horror stories of people going with one web design tool or platform...getting their website well underway...and then discovering that they've chosen the wrong tools and software...
They find out that they can't do what they want to do with the tools they've chosen.
I've heard these sorts of stories countless times. This is incredibly frustrating and deflating. And yes, it's happened to me, too!
This is why I've worked hard to sort through and find the absolute best set of tools...no matter what kind of business website you want to build.
So while you could use services like Etsy, Shopify, or Squarespace, these kinds of platforms (while simple to use and relatively low-cost) are essentially non-options for serious online business owners.
This is because while they might be decent for beginners, they give you very little control over your business and what you can do.
The litmus test is this: Can you download your website to your computer, and/or move it to another web service if you want?
Platforms like Etsy, Shopify, and others don't let you do that. This means that your business is tied down to their service.
So instead, I strongly recommend you set up your own independent web site in a space that you own and control. This is the best way to build your own business website.
And the good news is, it's really not that hard.
Going this route, the first thing you'll need to do is to register your business domain name. This is a straightforward process that isn't very expensive. We'll talk more about what's involved here in just a minute.
Next, you'll need to set up reliable, secure web hosting for your website. If you've never done this before, it can seem confusing and complex. But it's a straightforward process. Again, more on this in a moment.
Once you have your web hosting sorted out, the next step to building your own business website is to set up your business email accounts.
These 3 components -- your domain name, your business web hosting, and your business email -- are your critical business web services.
In the next section, I'll detail out everything that's involved (including links to tutorials that walk you through everything, step-by-step) in setting up your business domain name, your web hosting, and your business email accounts.
So without further ado, let's now cover these 3 main building blocks you'll need to build your business website...
Alright as mentioned, the next step to building your business website is to establish your 3 essential web components.
Again, that's your business website's domain name, your business web hosting, and your business email.
Think of these as the 3 cornerstones to your online business website. These 3 foundational components are critical for you to maintain ownership and control of your business website yourself.
Not getting yourself set up right (the first time!) causes all sorts of problems, frustrations, and unnecessary expenses down the road.
So in this section, you'll get clear steps to get your business website set up right!
And it's important to note that you need to keep each of these critical web services separate from one another. This allows you to maintain full control and ownership of your business's online assets. I'll go into more detail about this below.
So let's take a look at each of the 3 foundational components, starting with your website's domain name...
Your online business's domain name is is your website's URL, like yourcompanyname.com.
It's very important that you own and control your website's domain name, because this is the address that people will use to find you on the web.
Your business's domain name also very much becomes your brand online too...because it's what you become known as in the mind of your prospects and customers.
If you haven't yet registered your domain name, try to think of something short, unique, and memorable. Admittedly, this isn't always easy, especially with so many domain names being registered and new websites coming online. You could use your company name, your flagship product's name, or an abbreviation of either of these.
It's also important to note too that even though some online web services might offer you a free domain name (web hosts often do this), make sure to register your domain name separately from your other web services.
You can do this using an independent domain name registrar (more on that in a sec).
An offer for a free domain name might sound enticing. But a "free" domain is often only free for the first year. Then, you'll wind up paying in Year 2, Year 3, and so on. And usually, you'll pay more long term than if you'd used an independent registrar.
What's more, sometimes it can be difficult to gain full control of your domain name if it's been registered through a third-party service. Not good!
This is why I strongly suggest you keep your domain name, web hosting, and other web services separate from one another.
So where should you go to register your business domain name? I use and recommend NameCheap.
I've been using them for years and years for all my domain registrations.
If you'd like a step-by-step tutorial on how to register your business domain name, take a look at How To Register Your Business Domain Name.
With your domain name set up, you're ready for the next building block...
If you're unsure, web hosting is the space where you'll store your business website online.
Usually, this space is rented either on a monthly or annual basis. If you have really big bucks, you can buy web hosting outright and own it, but this is often unfeasible and not necessary.
For nearly all cases, it makes much more sense to simply pay monthly or annually.
That said, a few issues complicate web hosting...
First, there are different types of web hosting available. Second, there are a ton of web hosting companies...and some are reliable and others aren't. And third, web hosting companies pile on all sorts of services, making it hard to determine what's important for you and your business and what isn't.
Think of these three hosts as small, medium, and large -- depending on your needs, one of these will be a perfect fit!
And if you'd like a comparison of these three top web hosts for your business, take a look at Best Web Hosting – Find The Best Web Hosting For Small Business.
With hosting set up for your business, we're ready for the third and final foundational component...
The last building block is your business email.
Note that this is NOT your email marketing service (like MailChimp or Constant Contact). Instead, this is your business email addresses, like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
(You do not want to use an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com email address for your business website; that screams unprofessional!)
Now once again, you can get free email accounts for your business, usually through your web hosting company. But once again, I strongly recommend that you isolate your email from your other essential web services.
If you'd like to be taken step-by-step through the business email setup process, take a look at How To Set Up Google G Suite Email For Your Small Business and How To Set Up A Website-Branded (Professional Business) Email In Gmail.
So there's a look at your 3 essential web services -- your business's domain name, your web hosting, and your business's email.
While it does take a little more effort to set these up right ahead of time, your effort is well spent. With these 3 critical components in place, you're giving your website and your business a strong foundation to build upon.
And with these 3 critical web components set up, let's now take a look at the different tools and methods for building your business website.
There are five of 'em, so let's dig into it!
With your 3 foundational web cornerstones in place, the next thing to do is to determine which tools and software you'll use to actually build your business website with.
As I'm sure you might guess, there's no shortage of options here!
When I started out, you could probably count the number of ways to build a website on one hand. But now, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of different ways to build a business website.
In fact, now there are too many options -- it's overwhelming to sort through them all.
This is why I've broken everything down into just 5 different ways to build a website.
Some of these approaches are grossly outdated. Others are simply unsuitable for serious business website owners. And just one is the best approach to building your business website.
Let's take a look...
This is the way websites were built a long, long time ago.
Truthfully, it doesn't make any sense to build websites by hand, line by line, anymore. Way, way back in the very early stages of the internet, this is all we had. But today, we have much faster, much easier ways to build websites.
Imagine building your business website visually by dragging and dropping images, paragraphs, and products around onscreen to create your layout -- that's what we can do today.
If you'd like to learn HTML and CSS to understand web design on a deeper level and to be able to really push the customization of your online business, I think it's a great idea...but not right away.
Get your business online and earning revenue first. Then maybe consider going back and learning this stuff if you like.
Know too that the basics of HTML and CSS are not that hard to learn. If you'd like a quick run-through of the basics, take a look at Learn HTML - HTML Tutorial For Beginners and CSS For Beginners - CSS Tutorial.
But in the meantime, let's move on to the next method for building your business website...
A long time ago, WYSIWYG web editors like Dreamweaver and Microsoft Front Page made building websites easy.
These tools function like a word processor, where you'd open a file or create a new blank document, work on it, and then save it and publish it.
These editors would write all the necessary code for you in the background while you used the word processor-like interface -- menus, dialog boxes, and so on.
And while this was a big step up from having to write code by hand...compared to much more modern tools, WYSIWYG editors like Dreamweaver are severely outdated.
So outdated in fact, that I strongly suggest you avoid using them to build your business website.
There are much better, faster, easier ways to build websites these days.
For more on this, check out Which One, Dreamweaver Or WordPress?
But next, let's address an approach that we touched on earlier...
As I said just a moment ago, there are much faster, easier ways to build websites these days. Visual website builders allow you to build beautiful, modern websites quickly without getting tangled up in code or technical web design stuff.
But the big problem with services like Wix or Shopify or other web services like these is that you don't own your website. Your website is tied down to the web builder service -- you're stuck on the Wix or Shopify platform forever.
We touched on this earlier.
I've heard horror stories about successful business owners who have worked hard to grow their businesses online...only to outgrow their web builder service.
And now it's a nightmare to not only wrestle the website away from the service, but to move it to a much better platform.
And, although many of these services start out being free or low cost, as your business grows this can wind up costing much more than alternative (better) approaches...which we'll talk about in a second.
So while these visual web builder services make it fast and easy to build your website, you really have to maintain complete control and ownership of your website.
Especially if you're running an online business.
But remember that I said that just one of these approaches is best for building your business website, right?
This best approach (which I'm going to tell you about in just a moment) gives you the best of visual, drag 'n drop website building while keeping your costs very low and giving you complete control and ownership of your website.
But first, let's cover the elephant in the room -- WordPress!
No doubt you've heard of WordPress.
WordPress is what's called a Content Management System or CMS. In short, basically what this means is that unlike a WYSIWYG program like Dreamweaver, which is really just a file editor (like Microsoft Word), WordPress really is your website.
So WordPress provides you with a framework that you work within to publish pages, content, launch products, adjust pricing, and so on.
Think of it this way...
Imagine Dreamweaver as a vacant building lot. Here, you have to draw up blueprints from scratch. Then you have to bring all your building materials and supplies in yourself.
But WordPress is like a pre-fab home that you simply drop onto your building lot. Then, you can add onto it and customize it however you'd like.
And best of all, WordPress is completely free and easy to use (that is, assuming you're using the "dot-org" version of WordPress -- get some clarity on this in WordPress.com vs WordPress.org — A Brief Overview).
So, WordPress is great for those who are new to web design...but it's also very powerful and flexible, allowing more advanced users to fully control and customize it.
Easily, WordPress is the best web platform to build with, especially for online businesses.
That said, it isn't quite a visual, drag 'n drop website builder...not like Wix or Shopify...that is, not until we add those features to it.
And that's what we'll talk about next...
As mentioned, WordPress is like a pre-fab, modular home.
This means that you can add to it and subtract from it as you want. This is made possible via WordPress plugins.
Plugins allow you to extend the functionality and capabilities of your WordPress-driven website.
So here, we'll be adding onto WordPress one of the best visual website builder plugins, Elementor. Elementor allows you to construct your pages and layouts by dragging and moving content around, visually.
Move your paragraphs, tables, headings, images, and more all around inside Elementor's easy to use, intuitive interface!
So, those are the five different methods for building your business website. I'm sure you'll agree that building your business website by hand with HTML and CSS or using an outdated WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver is just too cumbersome.
So next, let's summarize the best way to set yourself up and build your business website yourself...
Now that you have an idea of what's involved in building your business website yourself, let's to a quick recap.
Once you've decided to build your business website yourself, the first step is to set up your website's 3 critical cornerstones. Remember, this is your business's domain name, your web hosting, and email accounts for your business.
And earlier, I gave you some solid recommendations for these:
These are all solid, reputable vendors that I've rigorously tested and use myself.
With this foundation in place, you can then move on to actually building your business website. Just a moment ago, you got a run-down of the different ways that you can build a website.
Combining the power and customizability of WordPress with the simple, easy to use drag 'n drop page-building capabilities that Elementor provides is the best way to build your business website!
And maybe later on, add in a little bit of HTML and CSS if you'd like to understand web design on a deeper level. And, knowing even the basics of HTML and CSS comes in very handy for troubleshooting problems and for making customizations and small tweaks to your website.
With these pieces in place, you'll be well on your way to getting your business website live on the web!
Alright, I hope you enjoyed this detailed look at how to start your own business online.
We addressed the big question, "Should I start a business?" before detailing out the two ways that you can get your business website built -- either by hiring someone or learning the simple steps to doing it yourself.
After that, we addressed the 3 critical cornerstones of your online business: Your domain name, your business web hosting, and your business email accounts. Finally, you got a run-down of the different ways you can build your business website.
I hope this article made the process of how to start your own business online much more clear.
See ya soon!