Three steps to building an online business in a weekend

7 min read
Cathy Ngo

Building a business presents so many opportunities — especially if your dream is to set up your very own online store one day.

If this seems like a big hairy audacious goal, I'm here to tell you that it’s a lot easier than you think. In fact, building a business over the weekend is totally doable — even if you believe you are not digitally savvy.

In 2022, 75% of all Canadians made purchases online. And this number is going up.

Now’s your chance to jump onboard the e-commerce train. Do yourself a favour and pencil in the next available weekend because we are going to show you how to build and launch your business in three easy steps:

  • Fine-tuning your business idea
  • Getting started with creating your own online store
  • Promoting your online store

Keep reading for our quick-start guide to building an online business.

Building a business with ideas at the forefront

Woman working on laptop while sitting on her bed

As entrepreneurs, we’re never short on ideas. The key is to focus and fine-tune your bucket of ideas to make sure whatever you choose is coherent. You'll need to ask yourself big questions like:

Is there a market for it?

Do you have a product or service that satisfies the market’s needs? This isn’t about creating a nifty product or getting into what’s trending. It’s about how you can provide a solution to what your audience wants. For more, check out the five steps of product design outlined in this post.

How well do you know your target market?

The next question is how well you know your target market. You need to understand the people who buy from you. It’s understanding things like:

  • Where they like to shopPerson creating a vase on a potter's wheel
  • What influences their buying habits and decisions
  • Who they shop for
  • What are their interests, hobbies and values

The more you understand what makes your audience tick, the more effective your efforts will be.

What makes you stand out?

When building a business, you must be confident in your product or service.

People will ask, “What’s in it for me?” You’ll need to explain what makes you different from your competitors.

Know what sets you apart from other companies in your space. Then see how your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) helps you resonate with potential customers.

A USP is more than just a nice statement or a slogan. It’s the interlink between what your products and brand represent. A compelling USP should be:

  • Specific and strong: This makes it a no-brainer for your customers to choose your brand. A USP should be memorable rather than generic, such as “we are a family business.”
  • Focused: Create content, services and products based on what your customers truly care about.
  • Consistent: This should be evident across all areas of the business. It should walk the talk, from the product description to the supply chain and return policy.

What do people think of your idea?

Customers are very savvy. It only takes a few seconds for them to Google a brand or post something about your business on social media.

Consumers are quick to call out any anything that sounds fishy.

For example, you might say you’re passionate about sustainability and the environment, but a product photo showing a model holding a single-use plastic coffee cup may be contradictory.

You don’t want to build a business online, and have it sink in sales because you overlooked a minor detail.

To ensure you have a successful launch, you should test your idea on your target customers first. Here are some ways to do it:

Send out surveys

There are many tools available online that make it quite easy to create a survey. Here are a few of the popular ones for reference:

Give them a go and try sending them out in an email or through social media.

InterviewsWoman talking with teammates online

Get insight from people by holding focus groups or getting in touch individually. This can help you uncover new findings you may not have considered before.

Ask Google

Yes, this might be obvious, but there is a tonne of information and research out there. Because of this, building a business has become so much easier. Try reading Google reviews from your competitors to see what people like and dislike about them.

Check out social media

Facebook alone has a database of 2.9 billion monthly active users and is a great place to create brand awareness.

You can check out your competitors’ pages by going through the profiles of some of their engaged fans to get a better sense of who they are (these people are likely to be your customers too). Go on social media to see what people are saying about those brands.

For instance, do people sing praises or complain about their products online? Also, see if those brands respond to customers, whether that be questions or complaints, and list the common topics. These insights will give you an idea of how much brand loyalty the competitor has.

Related: The small business guide to DIY market research

It’s time to start building a business

Put on that metaphorical construction hat because it’s time to start building your website. You can create a professional online presence (without any technical skills) by using GoDaddy’s easy online store builder.

It's free to start and provides plenty of ready-to-launch templates that are professionally designed.

To start, simply type your industry into GoDaddy's store builder, along with the name of your new venture.

Then choose a pre-built template you like from the ones GoDaddy offers based on your answers. From there, just replace the text and photos with your own. The tool auto-optimizes your site to make sure it shows up in Google searches.

Additionally, there are dozens of other features to explore like:

  • Adding an online booking form so customers can schedule their own appointments
  • Securely accepting all major credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay
  • Choosing from flat-rate or weight-based shipping
  • Creating emails that go out automatically
  • Easily selling products on your Facebook business page

The good news is you can manage your website’s content all from one place (including from your phone!). Online Store gives you access to many tools and add-ons to help you succeed. If you’re ever unsure about anything, there’s also 24/7 website support available.

Don’t forget to spread the good word

GoDaddy’s Online Store also has built-in tools for SEO (search engine optimisation) to help boost your site’s visibility on search engines such as Google. It includes supporting tools for social media and even email marketing.

Social media is a cost-effective way to get your brand and message out there.

Closeup of flowers

Its integration into our lives has been on the rise. According to Retail Insider, 47% of Canadians have even bought something on social media.

To boost your online presence even further, try creating and sharing posts, videos and infographics on social media platforms your audience interacts with the most. If you think it’s more than one, you can judge the effectiveness by looking at a few metrics like:

  • Engagement rates: This includes the total number of likes, comments and retweets.
  • Post engagement: Divide the number of post engagements by impressions to get this value.
  • The number of clicks: This is closely linked with your click-through rate. This metric shows the number of times someone clicks on your content.

Email marketing is another great way to nurture and build a relationship with your audience. You can the tools built into Online Store to easily share news and promotions to all your potential leads. It's a handy resource that lets you seamlessly create beautiful emails and social posts with no technical or design skills required.

Related: Is social commerce the next big thing?

Tackle your new website with confidence

Building a business doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many tools out there to make life easier.  You can easily start an online business with very little time and investment — yet still look professional.

We wish you great success as you launch your new website — don’t forget to check out the available resources here on the GoDaddy blog. Bookmark the home page for more tips and tricks to help you on your journey.