As business owners, in this changing global landscape, it is important to know how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago.
We are all familiar with a Brick-And-Mortar-type of business. Fast forward to the modern age, everything has moved to the Internet.
The COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020 forced businesses to rethink their processes. After month-long lockdowns and restrictions, companies must take advantage of tools that foster business continuity.
As such, here are the steps of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago:
1. Register Your Business with Legal Authorities
After deciding upon the best business to open or start in Trinidad & Tobago, and coming up with a stellar business plan and business model, you need to now secure the business name with the governing authorities.
As such, the first step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago involves making the business legitimate. Every serious business should first register with the government. By doing so, you will get a registration certificate confirming your official use of the business name within your country. In Trinidad and Tobago, you can now register your business online.
Also, ensure that you register for all taxes necessary.
2. Get a Business Banking Account
The second step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago involves getting a business banking account.
In order to transact business and collect monies from customers, you need to have a business banking account. Customers can make a direct bank transfer to reduce risk when handling cash. For e-commerce transactions, you will need a banking account to remit the funds to.
It is not wise to comingle your personal funds with your business funds, so having a separate banking account is necessary.
In Trinidad & Tobago, there are numerous banks that you can bank with:
Each bank would have different requirements necessary to open a banking account. e.g. (Cash flow statements or Business plans).
3. Create A Brand Identity
The third step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago is to create a brand identity.
The brand identity would then be used across all channels to promote the business. Brand identity would involve the following:
- Identifying Target Audience
- Stationery (Business Cards, Letterhead)
4. Make Social Media Business Accounts
The next step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago is to create your social media profiles. The leading social media providers are Facebook and Instagram. These platforms connect your business to a broad audience. It is free to create a business page on these channels. Therefore, it should be the first step of any online business strategy. With Facebook, you primarily create and share posts and stories. With Instagram, you share photos & videos.
You should also create a WhatsApp business account if you are a small business owner. This account will identify your phone number as a business account. You can also create a profile listing your business name, description, products and more.
It is a positive step to get started on these social media platforms. However, you are somewhat limited by what information can be displayed. Hence, we highly recommended the next step on how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago – your business website.
5. Establish A Website
One of the major steps of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago is to have a website. There are so many benefits of having a professional website for your business. Not having one would be a BIG mistake. With a website, you can display your company information, and even sell your products in an e-commerce store.
There are three main ways you can go about getting a website:
5.1 Host your website with a third-party platform
If you are just getting started, websites such as Wix and Weebly, or Shopify quickly get you up and running with drag-and-drop website builders. However, there are restrictions on what you can do on those platforms. We, therefore, do not recommend these managed CMS options for serious-minded businesses.
5.2 Host your own website
The gold standard for any established online business is to host its own website. When you host your own website you maintain full control and are able to customize the website as you like.
You can hire a developer to code a website from scratch. However, in the long run, your operating costs would be high. This is because you will need the developer to add content and maintain the site.
Instead of building from scratch, the best way to start an online business is by having a website based on a Content Management System (CMS). We recommend the installation of a CMS called WordPress on your domain name and web hosting. WordPress is free, open-source software. It is also the world’s most popular Content Management System. With WordPress, you can easily create a website like the pros using drag-and-drop website page builders like Elementor. With Elementor, you can create beautiful pages without writing code.
Using WordPress gives you unlimited possibilities in terms of design and features. For instance, you can create a simple 3-page brochure website or even set up an eCommerce online shopping store. A website built using WordPress is the best option for continued business growth.
Please see our website design packages if you are interested in having a web agency build your website.
5.3 Use an Online Marketplace
If it is not feasible to build and host your own website for your business, you can also use an online marketplace like OnYourIsland. Online Marketplaces are huge eCommerce stores with multiple vendors under one roof. They allow you to have an online presence to market your products or services.
This is one option of the best options of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago if money is a deciding factor.
6. Setup Professional Email Addresses With Your Domain Name
The other step of how to start an online business in Trinidad and Tobago is to have a business-grade email address. Having a [email protected] or a [email protected] address may be quick and easy, but it is not ideal. These addresses are primarily for personal accounts and do not reflect highly on your business. Your business must have an email address with its domain name for your persons to take it seriously.
A Domain Name is an internet address for your business. E.g. technokatsolutions.com. When you register for a domain name from a Domain Name Registrar such as GoDaddy, you can set up email accounts.
There are three ways to obtain your email address:
1. Web Host Email
You can use the web host’s free webmail software to create and manage emails.
This is generally not recommended as your domain may get blacklisted because of spam.
2. Email Forwarding
You can forward all your emails from your domain to an already existing email account.
2. Email Provider
Google WorkSpace offers professional business email addresses through its familiar Gmail interface. The starting cost is US$6 per user each month. Apart from email, you also benefit from a suite of other services such as GDrive, Calendar, and Docs.
Office 365 also allows business-class email addresses along with web versions of their popular productivity applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint. Office 365 is a pay-as-you-go option starting at US$5 per month.
For bulk email sending such as for email lists and transactional e-commerce emails, an SMTP Email provider is also necessary. Sendinblue is recommended.
7. Create a Google Business Profile
The next step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago is to ensure that you create a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This free service from Google lists your business on Google map searches. Some of the business information captured includes:
- Business Name
- GPS Location
- Opening Hours
- Contact Information such as telephone, email, and website address.
Create a Google Business Profile for business to be found easily in local searches.
9. List Your Business in Local Directories
Another step of how to start an online business in Trinidad and Tobago involves listing your business in local directories. Local directories help give you an online presence, usually for FREE.
Local directories in Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, and other countries abound.
OnYourIsland is one popular business directory that you should definitely list your business with.
9. Promote Your Online Business
After setting up your business website and listing it in various directories, you need to market your services and products to start an online business. Digital marketing is a crucial step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago.
Without proper marketing, no one would know about your business. This is where website marketing or digital marketing comes into play. Use online marketing techniques such as Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, and Paid Advertising on Google Searches, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
An agency like TECHNOKAT Solutions can help you generate leads and sales from online marketing efforts.
10. Utilize Cloud Services
This is the last step of how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago. Here, you need to jump on board the world of cloud computing services. The following businesses functions should now be performed online:
- Document Processing: To create documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint, you can use Google Workspace or Microsoft.
- Storage: To store files and documents, you can use Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
- Scheduling: To manage schedules and appointments. Microsoft Calendar and Google Calendar are good options.
- Accounting: To manage your finances, quotes, and invoicing, you can use Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks, or Zoho Accounting.
Hopefully, now, you know how to start an online business in Trinidad & Tobago.
As the Covid 19 pandemic has shown us, your business must continually evolve and adopt innovations. Starting an online business in Trinidad and Tobago is now a case of survival.