online business

Starting an Online Business in 2020: The Basics

Starting an online business has been a potentially lucrative option for many years now. Even if you are just setting up a website for your “side hustle” rather than starting an entirely new career, an online business is a great way to make money.

In addition to the general trend of businesses moving online in the 21st Century so far, the events of 2020 have sped up this trend significantly. With the global coronavirus pandemic meaning that many businesses that rely on face-to-face interaction (such as offline retail, hospitality, theater and live music) becoming financially unviable or even legally inoperable in some parts of the world, there has never been a better time to shift to an online business model or even start an entirely new online business.

In this guide, we will explore the basic steps needed to set up an online business so that you can get things up and running as soon as possible!

Choose the Right Sector and Business Model

The right sector and business model for you will be dependent on what your personal skills and experience are. This may match the field that you have worked in previously. For example, you may have previously worked for an IT support company and be able to become self-employed and offer your services directly to consumers! You may also have hobbies that you could monetize. If you are skilled in design, art, financial advice, programming, or any other skill that businesses or consumers may have use for, you may be surprised how much people are willing to pay for them.

Even if you aren’t skilled in a particular area, don’t let that stop you. It is possible to outsource to a white label company that will do the work for you and allows you to put your brand on it instead. For example, you might consider learning digital marketing strategies. With more businesses heading online, SEO could hold the answers. There are many tutorials online where you can find digital marketing tips if you want to learn this yourself. However, SEO is complex. If you are pressed for time and looking to get up and running quickly, companies like can provide SEO white label services and other digital marketing solutions for your business.

There are various online business models available, from eCommerce (which encompasses different potential strategies such as dropshipping) to consultancy (which can be carried out over the phone or video call software).

Choose a Domain Name and Website Hosting

Purchasing a domain name is important. Of course, you will need to choose the name of your business first and register it with your local governing body. Once you have done this, it is usually best to choose a domain name that matches the trading name of your business. There are many hosting services that you can choose from, and most will require a monthly or annual subscription fee. Taking time to choose the best option for you may be worthwhile.

Web and Graphic Design

Your website does not need to be particularly flashy or complex, but you will probably still want to have a recognizable logo and a usable site! Many web hosting services allow you to create a basic site pretty easily, and you can also hire web designers and/or graphic designers to make your site as attractive and functional as it can be.


Social media is an increasingly essential tool for digital marketing. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to set up pages quickly, and often for free (although there is also the option for paid ads, which can be lucrative)! Social media pages will need to be maintained and operated, so it is recommended for a member of staff to check-in at least twice daily to answer any messages or post relevant information.

If your online business includes selling physical products, you could also take your marketing efforts offline. You could use customised display stands to showcase and sell your products at a local fair or an exhibition. You could also hang up banners and give out advertising flags containing essential information about your brand to allow your potential customers to find you online. Customers who have tried your products are also more likely to spread positive reviews about your brand, thereby increasing your brand awareness. While offline marketing may be a more traditional approach, it can be quite effective in increasing your sales opportunities.

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