Many businesses have an online presence but maintain a physical storefront or office for contact with their clients. However, it is becoming more common, more popular, not to mention easier to run an entire business online from wherever you are in the world, to serve customers from around the globe.
Create a Successful Online Business
However, this doesn’t mean you can forget the fundamentals of a successful business, which still apply to online businesses which want to be successful.
Plus you’ll need to know how to adapt and change your business practices to ensure they apply when you go digital. For a successful online business, don’t forget the following business principles.
While it is possible to make a very lucrative living working in an online business, you’re not going to become a millionaire overnight.
Do you think in a similar manner?
You will need to apply the same persistence, hard work and self-belief you would to a business operating from the CBD and you need to maintain that motivation to achieve your goals.
Owners of successful online businesses know that this isn’t the easy way out, it is simply another way to earn a living, which can offer an alternative to a nine to five job, but eight hours a day are usually put in somewhere.
If you are considering starting an online business, make sure it sees you doing something you love doing, because only then can you maintain the motivation needed to run a business of your own.
1. Have a business plan
In the startup process of a traditional business, a business plan was a necessity because you needed something to take to the bank, something to outline your goals and somewhere to details our expected outgoings.
However, with an online business, there are often few start-up costs, and even fewer online businesses need to approach the bank for a business loan.
As a result, almost 70% of websites and blogs currently doing business online don’t have a business plan, and in turn, most online businesses will fail within 12 months, in some cases even sooner.
That is why it is important to treat an online business like any other business venture, and plan for it to be profitable. Think about everything which is involved in starting a business such as:
A realistic time frame to get your business online.
Investment costs to cover the website, hosting and domain registration costs.
Set goals for 3 months, 6 months, 12 month and two-year intervals so you can review your business progress.
Review your business plan every six to 12 months after that so you remain informed of new technology, new competitors and new products and services you can offer.
2. Know your market
In planning your online business you will also need to know your market because the online marketplace can be so competitive that new businesses pop up overnight, and these competing businesses can view all of your business details on your website.
Know your market
Therefore, you need to do your market research so you know what the market in your industry wants, and so you can do it better now, and into the future.
You should start your market research by checking out your current competitors and look at the audience they are targeting.
Find out what products your competition are selling, and how much they are selling for and find a way you can offer better value for customers.
3. Business image
With so much information bombarding us every day, we have all become very good at blocking out things which don’t interest us or appeal to us.
Therefore, you need to make sure your business image can successfully capture and hold the attention of your customers.
4. Creating your Business image
Also, remember that your website is the only representation your customers are getting to form a picture of you and your company, and they need to be impressed, in order to contact you for more information, so paying for good website design is an important investment to make.
Your website design will also work with the rest of your business branding, and this means your logo and your corporate colors. Therefore, take the time to develop a business brand which will be easy to remember and easily recognizable for your customers, and which portrays your business style and message.
You should only need a few meetings with a graphic designer to develop this branding style, and once you have paid for your logo and look, you will receive all of the original files to use and you need.
This allows you to keep your branding consistent across all of your promotions and correspondence, and the more organized, professional and trustworthy your business appears, the more confident customers will be working with you.
5. Easy to use and easy to find a website
Since the website for your online business is your storefront, it needs to attract, inform and capture your customers and in developing a successful website which does all this and more you need to:
a) Add good content. Informative and relevant content on your website will not only be helpful to your customers but will also mean that you rank highly in search engines and can be found amongst your competition.
It is also important that you maintain your content by making sure that links from your site are live and not broken, and that prices and product descriptions are up to date.
b) Develop a good website. When you know the content and information you want to get across to your customers, you can start working with a website developer on the workings of your website. Remember that when it comes to website development you get what you pay for and while it seems cheap and easy to outsource the development to an overseas company, having a local website developer you can meet with a talk to will offer you the best value, and the best end product.
c) Add functionality. Users expect a lot from websites and online companies and in order to appeal to your busy customers, make sure your website does everything they want and more. For example, you may want to add the option for users to join a mailing list which you can then target with news and special offers. Don’t forget to include social media buttons such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to help with your marketing, and to help you stay in contact with your customers’ thoughts and needs.
d) Allocate a marketing budget. While a well optimized and well-designed site will drive traffic, you can’t forget about a marketing plan, and of course a marketing budget. You will need to allow funds from your marketing budget to launch the website, pay for Google Adwords to drive traffic, pay for Facebook ads to target your users directly according to their Facebook profiles and pay for reciprocal links to drive traffic to your site.
You should also consider allocating some marketing spend to banner advertising on other website directories. Plus, good old-fashioned mail outs, flyers and business cards, plus radio and TV advertising will get your online business noticed everywhere.
e) Keep in contact. A good website developer will have suggested you add a mailing list function to your website so that visitors can sign up to receive news and notifications of specials. This gives you direct access to potential customers and by using professional email marketing programs you can send professional and informative correspondence to your website visitors, to convert them to new customers.