BLOG SERIES: Part 3 - How to Grow a Successful Online Business

business support business tips legal protection May 13, 2022
The Four Cornerstones of Business - Actually How do I set up in business?

This blog post was first published on 27 May 2020

If you’re thinking of starting out with an business and have no idea where to begin, or perhaps you’ve been in business for a little while but you aren’t seeing the growth and impact you want, then this five part blog series is for you. I’ll be sharing how I went from zero community and zero impact to an engaged community which has a huge positive impact supporting women with online businesses.

How to Grow a Successful Online Business: Part Three. The Four Cornerstones of Business - Actually How do I set up in business?


So far this week I have shared the one key thing you need to remember to do to create a successful online business and the five areas to focus on to get you started.

When I was starting out in business what I really wanted was a list of things which I could check off to ensure that I was setting up properly and doing everything I needed to be. It’s impossible to create a definitive list because every business is slightly different BUT … I am going to share the key considerations that you need to be making. I genuinely believe that the tips I am sharing today

1. Business Composition


When you start out in business you need to decide if you are going to run your business as a sole trader or a limited company. If you run your business as a limited company and appoint yourself as a director then you will need to comply with certain requirements when you’re running your business, director’s duties. This is not as scary or as onerous as you may think. You can set-up a company on Companies House for £12 within about 10 minutes and follow the simple instructions on your annual obligations as a director.

Many chose the limited liability company model because they want to do just that, limit their personal liability. They want to ensure that they have to pay the liabilities of the business. There are also tax issues to consider. For some it may be more profitable to run a business as a sole-trader, however, many who are thinking of the future and the bigger picture opt for a limited liability company. An accountant can help you with this if you are unsure.

Whichever choice you make you should check Companies House to see if the name of your company is available and you should also check with the Intellectual Property Office, to ensure that no-one has a trade mark registered under your chosen name.

2. Budget


What would you say if I told you that the core running costs of my business were less than £100 a month?

One bar people see to starting out in business is that they think that the costs will prohibit them from doing so. Running a business online does not have to cost a lot of money. My approach to business is not the same as others. Many will suggest that you should invest money you may not have and that failing to do so means you don’t have a growth mindset. That’s an interesting approach but not one I share. I am of the view that if your business does not have the cash flow to support the investment you should wait until it does.

The position is a little trickier for product based businesses but for service based businesses the biggest commodity at risk is usually your time. If you have set your business up using social media platforms then the costs really can be less than a month. You will need:

  1. A phone with a data plan;
  2. Domain and website hosting; and
  3. Insurance

I personally also have a few extras, if you’re interested to know I have an email marketing subscription with Active Campaign, but you can use free platforms such as Mailchimp and in the last few months, because I wanted to record my masterclasses, I have a paid for Zoom subscription but there is also a free one.

Now I know what you might be thinking, what about branding and graphics and logos and what about professional head shots? Sure these things are nice but if you are starting out in business you simply don’t have the money. I know that having these things elevates your brand but at the start you don’t actually have a brand.

You’re probably also thinking I have missed out on marketing. I’ve included it in point four and tomorrow’s post covers an incredible way to market your business.

Many of the people I work with are still finding their feet by the end of the first six months and although they think their first idea was great they have actually refined it. There is a slight Catch 22 where you want to get started but don’t feel like you can until you have a brand but you don’t really know what your ideal client and brand is until you get started. Debt is not a great place to start so why not let your brand grow with your vision? Sign up to a free platform like Canva and create your graphics on there and use a smart phone to capture pictures of you.

Don’t forget your legal obligations. As soon as you start collecting data from your potential clients such as their name and email address either via social media or via an email marketing system you are legally required to have a privacy policy in place. You can get a template privacy policy with drafting notes for £97 here.

3. Growth


The next big question you are going to have is “How do I learn how to [INSERT THE HUNDREDS OF TASKS YOU HAVE TO KNOW AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?”] Great question.

The answer does not have to involve investing hundreds of pounds a month into a coach. That is not always the quickest way. There are so many free resources available on YouTube and podcasts with really clear actionable steps on how to do things. From setting up your mailing list, to using Canva and even on building a website.

I remember when I started to build my first website over six years ago. I knew websites were built using coding so I started to teach myself how to code. I had no idea you could get template websites. I was reluctant to use a template in case my site looked like everyone else’s but websites have come a long way since then.

The beauty of learning how to do a task yourself is that you have no costs associated with it but your time. You can build a website on SquareSpace in less than a weekend (my site is built using SquareSpace) and you have the freedom and flexibility to change it and update it as and when you please.

4. Network


The ultimate cornerstone in business is networking. You need to share your name and your business with the world. The best way to do that is to be sociable, whether in person or online.

Marketing is so important at all stages of business but especially when you are just starting out. Try not to worry about it too much because just like your branding and offerings in the first few months you will be feeling your way a little bit. Utilise social media to get in front of your ideal client and give them value. The more value you can give and the more ways you can share your expertise and skills the better. Show up consistently and help your ideal client with the things which they find tough.

Don’t forget that networking is a two-way street. When someone gives you lots of value share their posts and what they are doing. Their clients may be your ideal clients too. Forming a network is different to building a community. Your network of business owners are like your biz besties and they will support you and share your content and your work.

Today’s post has very much shown you that you can create a business on your own and get started without investing thousands. When you are ready to invest it can be hard to know what to do first. In tomorrow’s post I share the Fantastic Five - five businesses that you need to have in your toolkit to really help your business to grow.

I would love to know your thoughts on this blog series so far. If you’re enjoying it then please do share it with a friend.

Lucy x

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