How to Start an Online Business Successfully

Of course, it is good to set big goals and dream big, but surprisingly many budding entrepreneurs and business people at various stages of business development either don’t or can’t grasp what's fully required to hit their goals.


Sure, generating 10 million rand within five years from a start-up with an online business is an admirable goal. However, do you know what it’s going to take to get there and ensure that you don’t become today’s “flash in the pan”?

No matter how long you’ve been an entrepreneur, launching an online business has never been more difficult. Here’s a quick look at the 2021 online landscape:

  • Competition is fierce,

  • Product markets are saturated, and

  • Consumers are demanding convenience more than ever before.

Before you begin to brainstorm the design and experience of an online store or even your company’s name, you’ll need to choose what products to sell.

This decision is a strategy within itself, as what you sell will impact every other business decision you make, such as:

  • Brand name,

  • Website design,

  • Marketing,

  • Loyalty programs, and

  • Shipping and fulfillment.

While each of these components is essential to a successful online strategy, they are worthless without a great product to support them.


This post will look at 5 facts that set successful online businesses apart from the rest. If you want to succeed at building your online empire.

Take note!

1. Be Yourself!


Your business is an extension of you, no matter how big or small it is at the present time. It will succeed or fail by how others perceive your brand, and ultimately how they feel about doing business with you.

All aspects of your business (customer service, product creation, back-office) should respect your values.

The old adage that people like to do business with people they "know, like, and trust" is even truer today. Even with the largest companies, people want to see the CEO come out to represent the company and speak on behalf of it.

Authenticity is the key. You’ve got to be you, whether it’s the smooth, sophisticated type or the person with rough edges and an attitude to match. Only you know what works for you and your target audience, but the one thing that can guarantee failure is not being authentic.

If you're not comfortable being the representative of your business you'll still want to create some type of persona to represent your company and brand and humanize your business as much as possible.

2. Over Deliver


Set benchmarks for yourself with your products and services, and try to exceed them, simple as that!

This is especially important with your initial offerings, because a strong first impression may mean a host of customers for life. Just imagine the glee on people’s faces because they feel that they have got the better end of the deal!

It’s your reward for having given so much value at such a low (or reasonably low) cost. Certainly, expectations will constantly be high, but that’s the way it should be.

Note: When we refer to "low cost" we're not referring to the actual price. We actually don't believe that competing on price is the best way to compete; rather the perception of the price should be considered a great value from the standpoint of your customers and clients; even if you are charging premium prices.

Over-delivering means going beyond the call of duty at all times to become not only a viable business but a market leader that all others admire and envy.

Remember the purpose of a customer is not to make a sale, rather the purpose of a sale is to get a customer.

Make their first purchasing experience with you a great one and they'll continue to buy your products over and over again increasing the lifetime value of your customers and maximizing your revenue.

3. Focus on Serving, Not Selling

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” is a famous quote from the legendary Zig Ziglar (1926-2012) and it’s more than just a quick phrase to throw around at cocktail parties.

Teaching and coaching are known as “giving” professions, but in the 21st century, more businesses will have to adapt their techniques in order to earn customer trust and ultimately sales.

Learn how to identify your target market’s problems, concerns, and issues to better create and position your offerings as the best solution in the marketplace. The better you can relate and speak to them with effective copywriting the more they'll realize you truly are the solution to their problems.

“How much money can I make for myself?”

Answer: As cliche as this may sound, don't even think about the money. As a business person, real money always follows from demonstrating the benefits of your services and products to the ideal customer.

4. Meet Your Customers Where They Are


Thanks in large part to social media, the world is transitioning from a corporate-dominated, sales-based economy to a trust-based economy.

In the past, dominant companies could count on “blind” brand loyalty from customers to guarantee steady profits, even if their products and post-sales service were severely lacking.

Not anymore.

Today, there is truly global competition across many industries, and the smallest glitch or weakness shown by corporations are quickly exposed, spread virally by consumers through the Internet, and exploited by ruthless competitors.

The auto industry is a great example. No matter how big the company (e.g. GM, Toyota) individuals have the power to make them fall to their knees if they fail to deliver.

Social media generally isn't friendly to the airline industry as well, but the dangers are worse for smaller businesses who don't have the time or money to invest in online reputation management.

On the plus side, when used properly, social media marketing and Facebook provides a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners as it's a great way for your most loyal and enthusiastic customers to share their love and excitement for your company and brand.

5. Have an Attitude of Gratitude


It is so easy to forget the people who gave you advice introduced you to key suppliers, or simply served as a sounding board for your crazy ideas.

Quite frankly, many of them wouldn’t take it personally that you are not contacting them anymore. They know that you are busy and have time-consuming obligations.

However, part of what makes success stories stand out is paying attention to little details, and calling your mentors to say ‘Thank You’ really goes a long way.

So, what if a teacher, former employer, or business coach has retired to Cape Town and isn’t part of the scene anymore.

They’ll appreciate your gesture that much more because it will remind them that they helped someone achieve their goals. This could also lead to opportunities for them to feature you to their audience, use your success as a case study, and potentially drive more traffic and sales into your business.

How Do I Begin Selling Online?


You’ve got a product and now you’re ready to go to market — online.

Before you begin setting up an online store, be sure to have these steps completed:
  1. Do market research.

  2. Finalize products to sell.

  3. Identify your customer base — and segment your audiences.

  4. Begin research on what e-commerce platform you’d like to sell on (like your own online store, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and other sites customers commonly buy from).

  5. Create high-quality product content (including product descriptions and imagery).

  6. Create a strategy to market to your potential customers (so you can drive traffic to the store).

Truth is, launching an e-commerce store is not a walk in the park.

But, with the right tools and an organized pre-and post-launch plan, you’ll be on the right track toward success.


There are a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to run a successful online business.

We find that even experienced business owners often underestimate the time, energy, and skill it takes to really succeed online.

We put the time, energy, and skill-set into our projects so that we can both succeed at getting our relationship to generate results.

Planning the results that you want is possible!

With the right strategy and passion for what you do, your audience will start realizing the value of your products and services.

Telling the story of who you are and helping them through their customer experience journey can be planned.

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