Don’t get left behind in the digital age, these days the internet plays a major role for small and big businesses alike. If you’re looking at using the power of the internet to start or grow a business, we have put together seven steps that you will need to take into consideration and the harsh realities of owning an online business venture.
1. Business Plan
Every business profits greatly from having a well thought-out business plan as it is the tool to understand how the foundation of a business will be put together and work. You can use this plan to monitor progress, take budget into consideration, hold yourself accountable and control your business’s fate. But most importantly it shows if the business has the potential to succeed, survive or fail.
Once you have explored ALL avenues, you should have a concrete business plan that you can pitch to the outside world as something legitimate with great potential to succeed. Remember that your business plan will alter as the business develops and objectives change.
We are living in an internet world and the world is on the internet, therefore it goes without saying that your business will NEED an online presence. Having a website showcasing your business not only allows for a wider audience of potential customers to be reached, it also allows for your business to gain credibility.
Credibility is important within any business, it’s what generates sales, makes customers come back and a business success. Without having reliable credibility your customers will search elsewhere and shop with your competitors. Having your website professionally designed will provide your business with a professional image and give confidence to your customers in your services. This is particularly beneficial if you do not have a physical storefront and are solely based on the internet. This goes hand-in-hand with an easy, memorable URL and professional email address.
Business use advertising and marketing techniques to reach a wider audience. Each company needs a different strategy from the next depending on what their services, products or unique selling point is. Pursuing the appropriate advertising tactfully is a huge part of what makes an internet entrepreneur or business startup successful.
For many business ventures it is important to have an off-line campaign too. Depending on your target market, this may be less significant to other businesses. Customers who do not use the internet regular will need other ways to be informed of your business. Many entrepreneurs whom have a low budget think this may be out of reach, however participating in local events will help your business benefit from effective outreach at little costing.
4. Controlled Costing
The first rule of thumb for any business is to make sure revenues exceed expenses. But as a start-up business, it may be difficult for you to judge how much money to invest into your business venture without knowing if profits will exceed your expectations. This is done by being judicious, budgeting and cutting back where possible. It is a good idea to cover this within your business plan, so you know how much money to invest to justify certain expenses.
If you’re serious about opening your business venture online and making money, then it is advised that you speak to a lawyer and/or accountant to setup a legal entity. Setting a business structure and purchasing appropriate insurance will help you against unpleasant situations that might occur in the future, such as product liability. An accountant will help you use your budget accordingly and monitor your financial successes/ losses.
5. Social Media
You may have heard people saying that you must have a social networking presence in order to be successful. This is true, social media is a crucial part of any successful businesses marketing plan but you need to be active. You need to check your social media channels daily, interact with your fan base regularly and be well, more social.
Social media isn’t just about connecting with existing customers, its for building acquisition. Audience reach is one of social media’s biggest advantages. Good use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (to name a few) will benefit you to build a network of followers and improve on your brands business.
6. Generate Traffic
Most businesses, big or small, dream of being on googles first page ranking. It’s good for your brand and it ultimately sends potential customers in your direction. Unfortunately, dreaming will not get you there and it won’t happen overnight. Generating traffic to your website, requires a significant amount of marketing and time.
Generating traffic to your website comes from consistent effort over a long period of time while understanding the basics of marketing techniques. If you have a slick website, interesting content and active social media channels you’re heading in the right direction. If you want a high ranking page you need to invest time or money into SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques such as accumulating backlinks, exciting content, relevant keywords, guest blogging and more.
Rather than invest a large amount of money at the start of your venture, it is advised that you map out this payment throughout the year. Otherwise you may find yourself high up on google rankings one week and then the next unfindable. Pleasing the big search engines is a tricky business.
7. Value in Design
“Price is what you pay, value is what you get” – Warren Buffett
Whatever you do, do not underestimate the power and importance of your business’s design. We are living in the digital world and the old saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” doesn’t cut it any more. If we don’t like the look of a website, we’re not onboard.
Of course not everybody can afford a massive budget for their business venture. But a good design is lasting, it is the first thing people notice. Investing into a really great quality design will benefit your business in the long term and bring credibility to your business.
If you’re thinking of starting your own online business venture we wish you the best of luck. It will be hard, success won’t come easy, you will need to make sacrifices, and you will probably be more stressed out than ever. Although it is not an easy road to travel and the likely hood of becoming an overnight success is next-to-none, if you spend your time and investment wisely, you will reap the rewards later.
Don’t forget your not alone, our team of Libero Net web scientists can help you along the way! Get in touch today to see what we can do for you.