How to Define Your Online Business Idea in 7 Steps

If you want to have an online business, you need to start somewhere. The best start is having a business idea about what you can sell online. This then serves as a compass for all your other activities related to setting up, promoting and growing your business. Without a clear direction, it might take you a long time to promote your business and probably not bring you the desired results.

In this article I will guide you through seven simple steps that will help you define your online business idea.

Step 1: Define Your “Why”

Before deciding what you are going to do as an entrepreneur, it is important for you to understand why you do it. The “Why” represents your fundamental reason, for which you decided to do your business and it serves as a constant throughout the process that will guide you toward achieving your goals. The “Why” is all about your core beliefs, your compelling higher purpose, and as Simon Sinek states: people buy why you do what you do.

Step 2: What Are You Good At?

In order to have a successful online business, you need to be good at what you are selling. Therefore, if you don’t know what kind of business you could do, start from the things you are good at. Do you have a degree and/or years of experience in something? Or do you have some specific skills or know-how that you can use to provide something useful to other people?

Think about all the things you are really good at, or those you can further improve. For example, you might be a great interior designer, party planner, web developer, social media specialist, personal trainer, photographer, content writer, cook, teacher, translator, or anything else. If you are good at more than one thing, you can prepare a list, which you will refine throughout the next steps.

Step 3: What Do You Love Doing?

As I said, why you do what you do and being good at it are two important aspects. But what will really motivate you in your own business is to love what you do. So now, think of all the things you love doing. For example, you might love traveling, teaching, dancing, writing, designing, managing, public speaking, reading, organising events, cooking, painting, and many other things.

Prepare a list of the things you love doing. Once you are done, compare this list with the list of things you are good at. Are you able to combine any of them?

Think of the ways you can do what you love, while doing what you are good at. For example, you could be a native Italian language speaker with a degree in Italian literature, who loves teaching, mentoring, explaining, singing, and reading. In this case, based on your Italian language experience and expertise, you could offer courses of Italian language for groups, mentoring/tutoring individuals, translation and proofreading services, and prepare material for teaching Italian language.

Step 4: What Can You Sell Online?

As you are planning to start your online business, you also need to consider what you can sell online. But don’t worry, nowadays almost everything can be sold online. Take your combined list of things you are good at and things you love to do. Now, think of all the possible applications that could help you sell these solutions online.

Here are some ideas for solutions you can sell online:

  • Digital Material for Download: checklists, templates, workbooks, guides, tutorial videos…
  • Online Courses: live webinars, online courses, online programmes, mastermind events…
  • Coaching Services: one on one coaching sessions, focused coaching, group coaching programme…
  • Memberships: membership, subscription, online community, podcast…
  • Services, Apps and Software: offer your services, offer a software, offer your app…
  • Promotion and Referrals: earn money through influencer sponsorships, affiliate marketing, referrer marketing…

Continuing from the previous example, you could organise and sell online courses of Italian language for groups, with support material and workbooks, as well as translation and proofreading services.

Find out more in the blog article “What Kind of Solutions You Can Sell Online”. You can also take a look at the IB4SME eBook 40 Solutions to Sell Online to find out more details about the various solutions from your field that you can sell online.

Step 5: How Can You Help Solving a Problem?

It is also important that your business idea helps solving problems for your customers. So, take your time in combining the lists of possible solutions thinking also which of them can help you solving a problem for your customers.

By doing so, you will identify commonalities that will help you properly define your business idea. Although nowadays people might buy just anything, it’s better if you focus on something really useful for your potential customers.

Building on the previous example, you could provide Italian language online courses for specific groups and industries (e.g. employees in hospitality, retail, tourism etc.), as well as translation and proofreading services as a support activity.

Step 6: What is Your Competition Doing?

Now that you have a basic idea for your online business, it is time to take a look at your competition. There are three main reasons why knowing your competitors is important for your business:

  1. Knowing who they are and what they are offering, can help you in defining your products, services and promotion in a way that will make you stand out.
  2. You can evaluate your competitors’ performance and learn best practices to adapt them within your business.
  3. Keeping an eye on your competitors can also help you create competitive advantages and marketing strategies in future.

To carry out a simple competitors’ research, search for eventual competitors online and define around five to ten competitors that are the most relevant for you.

By studying your competition, you will find out if your business idea could work (as it is working for someone else) and how you can increase your chances of success by differentiating your business from your competitors.

Step 7: Define Best Practices for Your Business

Following your competitors’ analysis, it would be a good idea to use some of your competitors’ best practices to define the best practices for your online business.

These best practices can be applied for any of the aspects you analysed. For example:

  • How their website or landing page is structured for a higher conversion rate
  • Their presence on specific industry portals
  • How they combine some of their products and services into turnkey solutions
  • Their pricing strategy
  • Their niche market
  • And anything else that is relevant to your business.

Their best practices can help you further refine your online business idea, as well as preparing the best practices for your online business operations and promotion.

Summary: How to Define a Good Online Business Idea?

By following the seven steps presented above, you should be able to define a successful online business idea. Even if you already have a general idea of what you want to do, following these steps can help you increase your chances of success:

  • Step 1: Define your why.
  • Step 2: Prepare a list of things you are good at.
  • Step 3: Prepare a list of things you love doing.
  • Step 4: Combine the lists from Step 2 and Step 3 by assessing how you can sell them online.
  • Step 5: Consider how you can solve a problem for your potential customers.
  • Step 6: Analyse what your competition is doing.
  • Step 7: Define best practices for your online business.

To sum up, make sure your business idea is the best fit for you considering your knowledge, skills, what you love doing, and an actual demand in the market.

Posted in

Mompreneurs Online Business Handbook

If you find this article helpful, take a look at the Mompreneurs Online Business Handbook. This is a practical guide to start a successful online business from home, which I prepared by putting on paper my knowledge, experience and know-how, to help you and guide you step by step throughout the business concept, planning and setup processes of your new online business.

Dr. Natasa Kobal is a marketing and international business expert, who believes in creating solutions that accelerate SMEs’ sustainable growth. She is the Owner and Founder of IB4SME, a business consulting and training brand that empowers SME owners and decision-makers internationally with the skills and support they need to successfully manage their businesses. With a PhD in business management, combined with 15 years of experience in international marketing, Natasa manages all IB4SME business consulting solutions and services.


Sign Up to Keep Up-To-Date with Our Latest Blog Articles

By signing up with IB4SME, you will join business owners and managers across the globe that trust us and take advantage of our digital material and valuable content available only to our subscribers.

As a subscriber, you will receive notifications of the latest articles published on the IB4SME blog.

Depending on your preferences, you can also receive email notifications about new webinars, workshops and courses, notifications and invitations to our online or offline events, as well as special offers and discounts.

Sign up today and get immediately our Business Concept Definition Guide for free. Whether you are just starting doing business online, or you have years of experience, this 15-page guide will help you in properly defining your new business concept.

Scroll to Top