Welcome to launch your online business. Launching an online business or moving your existing business online is a very exciting adventure. My name is Joan DeCollibus, and I'll be your teacher for the lessons to come. I studied graphic design in college and started my career as a producer designer of meetings and events for corporate clients. My team and I would create visuals to support corporate business meetings that could span for days. In the beginning of my career, back in the '80s, all of the artwork I created was done on a drawing board by hand using film and photography and slide projection. In the 1990s, personal computers were invented and seemingly overnight we began to create all of our art and design work on the computer. As I gained more and more skills in computer graphics and interactive animation, it occurred to me and two of my friends, Glenn and David, that we could start our own business. With our small investment of $15,000 and a handful of clients, we rented an office in Boston and hired an intern. With the help of a lawyer, we incorporated our name, Planet Interactive Inc. and drew up a partnership agreement. What I distinctly remember is we did not do a business plan. Ouch. I really recommend doing a business plan. So before we signed the lease, we did a rough estimate of what we thought each of our clients would and could pay us for the year and we added that up. The numbers look good, so we took the plunge. Back in the early '90s, very few people had our skills. We had a very unique offering, digital media or designed, delivered digitally, not through print. Through our existing clients and word of mouth, we have a steady stream of business. I develop my product line in 2017 and launched online using Shopify in 2018. I named the company Rubina.NYC. The name became part of my brand story. Rubina means redhead in Italian a node to my heritage and my little dog and fit model Ruby is a red poodle. I'll circle back to my business as we go along. Launch an online business is a 16 lesson course. Most of our lessons we'll have a quiz, a student activity, and an assignment. You'll gain an understanding of different business models so that you can pick yours. I'll cover naming strategies for your business, as well as creating customer personas. We'll go through steps for creating your brand and how to develop a unique value proposition or your UVP for your business. I'll share the steps you need to take to launch your web site and production do's and don'ts for copy-writing and photography. I'll cover a pre-launch checklist and website maintenance and some of the basics of marketing, advertising, and PR. As the course goes along, you'll take what you're learning and create a pitch deck about your business that you share with potential partners, investors, or team members. Let's get started. What kind of business do you want to launch and what will you name it? Creating an online business presence is good for business. When we need something, what's the first thing that we do? We either ask a friend or search online. If our friends don't have an answer, Google usually does. Your online presence will provide your customers information about your business and it will help build your brand and generate revenue. There are many business models for online businesses. To find the right one, you need to ask yourself, will my business be a service, product, subscription or content business. Let's go over the different types to help you understand which type makes sense for you. A service business is where you have a service to sell and will collect a payment for this service on your website. Examples of services could be a salon, a spar, coaching, tutoring, elder or pet care, online therapy, yoga class. The important distinction to make here is that you are selling a service, not a product. You may have an existing brick and mortar business that sells anything from laundry to manicure services, and you want to bring it online. Once your business is online, your customers can book and pay for their service through your e-commerce platform using a touchless checkout process. This will provide a safe and easy way for you to check them out. With online payments, you can charge clients without having a face-to-face interaction, and the exchange of credit cards, checks, or cash. Let's look at a few examples of service businesses. The Art Studio founded by Rebecca Schweiger is a Manhattan-based business that offers art classes at their brick and mortar studio or online. You can browse through classes and pay online. Dirty Gloves based in the Bronx is a business that lets you schedule an appointment to have your drain cleaned and you can pay online, and RuffCity founded by Heather and Stacia is a Manhattan-based dog walking service. Because pet care is a bit more high-touch, they have an orientation process where you meet your dog walker before you sign up and pay online. So let's move on to product businesses. If you have a grocery store or a restaurant, those are product businesses because you are selling a product like a pound of butter or a hamburger. Other types of product businesses include apparel, home goods, garden, health-related, auto or pet products. Again the list is endless. Your company may be in the business of selling products you design and manufacture like my company Refina, or you could be selling products that you are buying wholesale and selling on your site. Let's look at some examples. Absolute Trophies based in Queens sells all sorts of trophies that you can have customized and purchase online. Ojala Threads founded by Ramona Ferreyra in the South Bronx has built a product business that's also very involved with the community. They have a line of apparel inspired by Hispanic heritage that you can buy online. Harlem Heirloom founded by Jammie Waldron in Harlem offers customers handmade soy candles. Another model for online businesses is subscription-based model. In this case, a subscription could be for either a service or a product. Subscription businesses require the customer to sign up for products or services they receive or have access to either monthly or yearly. An early example of a subscription service is Birchbox, founded in Manhattan by Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp where customers pay a monthly fee and receive a box of beauty product samples. Another example of a subscription business is Blue Apron, also started in Manhattan. They deliver the ingredients for customers to cook meals at home. Barkbox started by Carly Strife in Manhattan delivers dog owners a monthly goodie box filled with dog treats, dog toys, and other dog products that fit in the box. It's like Birchbox, but for dogs. The last online business category we'll cover is a content business. These online businesses create content that is curated to an audience that has shared interests. It's like a magazine, and the businesses make their money through advertising dollars. For example, PureWow founded by Ryan Harwood in Manhattan caters to a millennial female audience that likes to read about fashion, beauty, family, recipes, and home. The businesses articles may include branded content, meaning content that features a certain product. The product is talked about in a natural way so that readers don't feel like they're being advertised to. Rather they feel like they're getting an inside scoop on what they wanted to learn anyway. Pure Wow has many competitors like Bustle and PopSugar, all in the beauty lifestyle category. There are many online content companies that focus on different interests like sports, travel, cooking, finance, and so on. Another example of a content business is MITU, a Latino focused lifestyle site. You can see the paid advertising content in the bottom row. It looks like the rest of the content and it's naturally integrated into the overall content even though it's paid for. Four your student activity, take 15 minutes to look through these online businesses and see what inspires you. When you look at these websites, think about what they're trying to sell and how their potential customers would feel when looking at their websites. Ask yourself the following questions: do I understand what their business is? Do I feel I can trust them? Is it easy to get to the checkout page and make my purchase? Would I tell a friend about them?