My story starts back in 1999. The internet was seen as a fad. No one knew how the world would transform. Jeff Bezos was beginning to transform shopping. Elon Musk was revolutionizing payment processing with PayPal. Although my story is both about technology and running counter to technology. I began the company Goldspot Pens which was dedicated to fountain pens, fountain pen ink, rollerball pens, and other luxury handwriting gear. This begins my first “tip” I have for you as a entrepreneur, whether amateur or serial entrepreneur. Choose A Niche You Love (And Then Filter Down) What you choose to create an online business on is crucial and will determine your life satisfaction. Who cares about success? Success is loving your life and your business will become your life. Choose a niche to write about and sell to that you absolutely love with your whole body. I chose writing, something I was passionate about, and then filtered down to answer, “how can I make a business around writing?” This brought me to pens, and then fountain pens, and then to pen ink. I never looked back. Choose a niche you love, and then filter down. Begin Strong (Your Foundations) It is crucial you start your online business on solid foundations. What does this mean? You research your market and outline a business plan. You learn about Google indexing and SEO, if it is relevant to you. You discover your primary marketing channels (where will you be generating traffic from – where do people find you and your product or content?). These questions are absolutely critical to the long-term growth and viability of your business. If you’re business plan isn’t realistic, you want to learn that fact as fast as humanly possible. It will save a lot of grief, believe me. I’ve had many businesses and spoke with many entrepreneurs. Build a Website (On a Budget) You can build a website on a budget in an efficient manner while staying under budget and, importantly, looking professional! There is no reason to sacrifice a sleek, professional website in this time we are living in. You can use Square Space or even Wix (although this could hurt your SEO). If you are like me and are building an online store (ecommerce), you will need a better website builder in many cases. Goldspot Pens is built on Shopify Pro. Although the options are limitless, and one which we have seen really successful stores use is WooCommerce on WordPress. It is powerful and free, although requires some technical know-how. Do Keyword Research At The Start of Your Business Keyword research is a term in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) space. It is a term that you need to know. Keyword research will determine if Google traffic will be a viable traffic channel for your online business. For us, we discovered early on that fountain pens and fountain pen were being searched on Google for thousands of monthly searches per month, and we instantly knew we needed to capture at least a portion of this traffic. Luckily, you can start keyword research easily and on a budget. Google’s Keyword Planner is usable with a free Google Ads account which you can sign up for. Without using any budget on Ads, you will be limited to a range of search volume for each given term, but this will at least let you know if people are searching for products or content in your niche at all. Consider Digital Marketing Ad Spend At The Beginning You will want to consider whether Google Ads or Facebook Ads are viable channels for growing your online business or online store. Digital marketing ads are a great channel, but can be detrimental if you are naïve. You want to determine if Ads are a good way to create a revenue stream early on, especially if you have some budget to work with. They can be a game changer in the digital world for online store, whether you sell fountain pens and ink or sporting goods. Create Social Accounts Across All Platforms This is not just for brand. You need to link all these platforms to your website to create trust and traffic. You need to at least create Facebook page, Instagram account, Pinterest (if applicable), and Twitter. You want to consider creating accounts on Medium, Blogger, Tumblr, and seriously any other social platform you know of. You need to get your brand name across the internet to get Google to index all your pages and build trust and branding. Write Down Which Channels and Strategies You Need to Target The number one thing I wish someone had told me when I was starting my online store was to explicitly state which traffic channels I wanted to target. For the fountain pen store (Goldspot), it would be SEO, Google Ads, and Youtube. These are my main channels of growth (although Instagram and other platforms have their part too). Write down which of these channels are the most profitable and which you will work on first. Will you create Youtube videos to begin with? Do you need to focus on a blog and Google traffic? This is up to you. Now, start researching!