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Five skills you need to start an online business

By Alexandra Gavril - November 27, 2019

What does it take to start an online business? Is having a great idea that you’re passionate about enough or do you need other skills as well?

Do you have to be able to craft compelling copy and design eye-catching graphics? Are you required to have technical, financial or analytical skills?

The skills you need depend on the type of business you want to get online. However, at the minimum we’d recommend you to learn and master the following five skills.

1. Legal and business finance awareness

You should have a good understanding of how the legal and financial side of doing business online works.

For example, will you do business as a sole trader or are you planning to work as self-employed or as a limited company owned by shareholders? Do you have knowledge of contract law?

Also, will you get funding from crowdfunding or a bank loan? Or will you invest your own money and reinvest it as your business grows?

If you’re not an expert, it’s advisable to seek out legal and financial advice before starting your business. This ensures that you have your back covered if anything goes wrong.

For more information, read sections 8 and 9 in this beginner’s guide to starting an online business.

2. Time management skills

It’s easy to procrastinate when you already have a full-time job or other projects that you’re working on to pay the bills. But if you want to succeed, self-discipline and good time management skills are key to keeping your business on the right track and doing everything you can to attract prospects and turn them into customers.

So, if you’re the only one involved as you’re getting started, then you’re also the only one accountable and responsible for how you manage your time and priorities. Make sure you create and stick to a schedule as it’s the only way to keep your business on track.

There are lots of productivity apps you can use to do this. Even an Excel spreadsheet or pen and paper will do the job just as well.

3. Technical skills

If this is your first time getting an online business off the ground, then make sure to get familiarised with the technical side of it.

Here’s what you need to get started online:

  • Get a business name and a domain name (you can check for a domain name here)
  • Get a responsive website template, meaning one that works properly for anyone who visits your website from any device, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or a PC.
  • Get a hosting package to get your website online.
  • Buy an SSL certificate to make your site more secure for your visitors. This encrypts any sort of sensitive information that people share with you via your site, be it credit card details or any other personal information, to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

It may seem like a lot but the truth is you can find everything you need on 123 Reg and you don’t even need technical skills to set up and start using your new website.

For example, our Website Builder comes with all the things you need to start a business online, from a free domain name, email and SSL to a wide choice of responsive and beautifully designed website templates for lots of industries and niches.

In addition to these, you’ll also get access to lots of other useful tools that can help to make your business easier to find online by potential customers.

Further reading:

Choosing a business name and a domain name: Everything you need to know

I have a domain, now what?

How to decide which type of hosting you need for your website

What makes a website secure?

4. Digital marketing skills to promote your business

Once your online business website is up and running, you can’t expect people to immediately find you and start buying from you. You need to promote your site in the right places in order to attract the right people, build their trust and entice them to spend money on your products or services.

This can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re completely new to the world of online business. But don’t worry as our blog has all the resources you need to learn how to market your business online.

To get an idea, here are a few of the key tasks you’ll need to learn how to do to get your website found and compel visitors to buy from you:

  • Optimise your first site for search engines to ensure your target audience find you in search results.
  • Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see how well your site is doing and to learn more about who’s visiting your site, and what they’re doing while on your site.
  • Start with pay-per-click advertising to attract more potential customers to your site.
  • Take up blogging to share great content with your audience and to build your reputation as an expert in your industry.
  • Get social to engage with your audience, hear what’s being said about you and deal with negative perceptions about your brand.

If you’re short on time or just don’t want to do everything yourself, you can always outsource some of these tasks (and more) to professionals with the right skills.

Further reading:

6 steps to get you started with digital marketing for a new website

Ten easy ways to market a new business

The best beginner’s guides to online marketing

5. Automation

One of the easiest ways to work smarter and save time is by automating as many repetitive or time-consuming tasks as possible.

For example, if you’re planning to use social media networks like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to engage with your audience, you can save lots of time by automating posts.

Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are a time-saver when it comes to scheduling content, replying to comments and managing social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more, all from a single place.

You can automate lots of other tasks as well, from blogging to customer emails.

Automation is a great way to get repetitive tasks out the way in one go, so they don’t eat into your time during the working week. Read this guide to learn more about the different tasks you can automate to save time.

In conclusion

Starting an online business is not easy. It takes time, patience, a few skills and the willingness to learn new ones that you can use to turn your great idea into a successful business.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with all the tools and resources you need to do just that. And if you need more help, guidance or answers, we’re just a tweet away @123Reg.