The best time to start a business was yesterday, however, the second-best time is today. In this article, I’ll address what you need to do in order to start your online business in Trinidad and Tobago as soon as you possibly can. There will be some extra work and you will need to take time off of every other side project to sort these out, but trust me it will be well worth it when you finally launch that dream business!

What do you need to consider before you start your online business?

You’ll need to put some forethought into a few things before you start. My advice is that you should not overthink these since you can always change and adapt as things progress.

  • Your business name
  • What are you going to sell?
  • Your website
  • Your social media presence
  • Accepting payments
  • Fulfilment/delivery

Let’s go over each of these in more detail.

Your business name

Selecting the right name for your business can sometimes be a difficult one. That name needs to be available as a domain (your www.business.com) as social media handles (@businessname) and you’ll need to register the name with the Ministry of Legal Affairs as well so you’ll be able to get a bank account in the name of your business. (ps. a pet peeve of mine is where online businesses in Trinidad and Tobago add TT to the end of their business names; please don’t do that and just be creative with your name!)

The nice thing is that your brand name doesn’t need to be your trading name. It would be great to have them be the same but they don’t need to be that way. Think about Courts vs Unicomer Ltd; Unicomer is the business name you make your payment to but Courts is the brand you see advertising. The important thing, for now, is to find a brand name for which you can get a domain name registered and check that the social media handles are available. Once you have those, register them ASAP!

Once we have those in place the next step is to register the business. In an ideal world that part would be easy to do and you’ll have your name in a few days, however, we all know “This is Trinidad” so… Let’s leave it at that. I’ll give you the advice my older cousin once gave me. Start and register when you realise the business model is viable.

What are you going to sell?

This should have been your first step right? I put it second on purpose. Take it from me, the first product or service you begin selling with may not be the one you continue to sell year after year. The market will tell you whether or not it is a good idea to sell your product or service.

What you should do, however, is start with market research. Find a need in the market, find a supplier or supply it yourself and find the price point where you are able to make a profit while serving enough customers to make sure the business model is sustainable. Easier said than done but over time you’ll find the best for your own market. Don’t be afraid to fail at the first or even tenth version of this product or service you plan to sell.

Your website

Your website should be the first brand asset you invest your time and money into. I’m not just saying that because I sell websites (get yours for only $850TTD). I’m saying it because your website is that one digital asset that you have complete control over. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter etc can all change their algorithms all they want. Even Google can change theirs and mess with your SEO rankings. None of this matter when you build your brand to the point where people know they can simply visit your website to buy from you.

What can you do? There are many options out there, from Wix.com to Squarespace to trying to figure out how to build one from scratch, to WordPress.com and WordPress.org and so many other choices. The best choice for selling online in Trinidad and Tobago is WordPress.org paired with WooCommerce. I’ll get into why later in the article but just know that you need a solution that gives you the most compatibility with local options.

Your social media presence

In this day and age if your business is not on social media does it really exist? This is like the old days where you had to be in the yellow pages. People search for your business either on Google or their preferred social media platform. If you don’t show up in one of those then how will they find you?

I can’t tell you which platform will work best for your brand. Each platform has its own demographic. You need to know where your customers spend most of their time so you can chime in and join the conversation where they are. For most of us in Trinidad and Tobago, it could mean Facebook or Instagram but lately, it could also mean Twitter or TikTok. My advice for you is to do some research to find out which of these your potential customers are on and join.

How many times to post? What to post? These all depend on your niche and what your customers want to see and interact with. Just keep your customer in mind when creating the content and you’ll be on the right track.

Accepting payments

Accepting payments here in Trinidad and Tobago can be a tricky process if you don’t know what options are available to you. PayPal may be a viable option if most of your customers are going to be from the USA or some other first-world nation. However, for local to local payments your best options are Wipay, Paywise, COD or Bank Transfers. You can read my article which goes into more detail. Accept payments in Tobago | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com)

The payment method you choose will have a great impact on the platform you choose for your business. You may want to reach my other articles which explain these in detail Keep your business open during these lockdowns with e-commerce | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com) and Why is WordPress the best choice in the Caribbean? | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com).

The long and short of it is that WordPress allows for the plugins and addons needed in order to accept payments here in Trinidad and Tobago. You’ll know what those payment options are based on knowing your customers. Your demographic may prefer credit cards or maybe cash on delivery. Luckily there are options available for all.

Fulfilment/delivery

If by now you haven’t figured out that I’m stressing that you know your customer then I will need to make that point clear now. You’ll definitely need to know your customer to figure this step out. The method of delivery comes down to a few factors.

  • cost to deliver (the customer would end up bearing that final cost)
  • how long it would take to get to your customer (for some businesses the urgency of that delivery may matter more than cost)
  • whether or not the customer paid in advance or not (if they pay in advance then most methods will work, however, if they need to pay on delivery then you’ll be limited to only a few options)

Two articles you can read for ideas on delivery methods are Strategy for retail businesses to cope with the 2021 lockdowns | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com) and Accept payments in Tobago | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com)

So what’s next?

Your next step is to just get started! The sooner you can begin the sooner you’ll get the experience and the sooner you’ll know if your idea is a good idea or a great idea. I invite you to have a conversation with our team. Speak With An Expert | Pellau Media Limited (mypellau.com)

I know starting a business may seem like such a huge step, and maybe it is, however, it will be better to get started as soon as you can rather than wait until “the ideal time”.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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