Starting a small online business is one thing, making it a success of it is another. If you’re serious about it becoming your sole revenue earner, and you have ambitions for it to grow, you need to know what you’re doing with your digital presence. You may already have experience of what does and doesn’t work from previous jobs, but it’s worth reminding yourself of the fundamental basics. Here’s a run through of what you should be doing to pack a punch online.
Pack a punch online: the small business basics
Get a digital strategy
When you set up a small online business, you need to know what you’re doing. If it’s something you want to do in the longer term, and if you don’t feel like you have all the necessary skills in place right now, then think about studying, or getting some work experience. You can combine both if you complete the masters in business analytics online. After all, preparation and knowledge is key to business success.
However, if you’ve been there and done all that, you’ll now have come up with a business plan, forecasting your spending, revenue and growth – and your strategy to achieve it all.
Planning for digital success should also be as thorough. You should be setting out how your company will appear online in terms of identity and branding, and the best platforms for promoting and selling your products and services and raising awareness of your company. In addition, you also need to plan what content you will devise and distribute to get your target clients interested – and to bring them back to you time and time again. Your digital strategy is a fundamental part of your online business and will help form the backbone of your work, development and, all being well, your sustained success.
Your web ‘window’
If you’ve already started trading, you should have a website in place. If not, it’s time to move. Having a centrepiece at the heart of your online business is crucial, to let everyone know what you’re all about and what you offer.
You’ll want a website that is mobile-friendly so that customers can browse on all sorts of devices, not just a desktop computer. Most people are looking online while they’re on the move and you don’t want to risk losing vital parts of your market because your site doesn’t format or function properly.
Your site should be easy to navigate and look attractive, seductive even. You’ll want to get people drawn in and interested in what you offer in terms of goods and services. Take them on a journey, one which is easy to navigate, where they get all the information they need. Try to avoid overloading your site with lots of long blocks of text and make it visually stunning with lots of high-quality images, branding and some video content, if that all works for your company.
Also remember to get your site the SEO treatment, or search-engine optimisation. It will help to get your site picked up when potential clients are looking for products and services that you might be able to sell them.
Once you’ve got people on your website, you’re obviously going to want them to go further and buy something from you. If you’re offering ‘buy online’ type products, then you need to ensure that you have reliable and secure e-commerce functions on your site.
You’ll want to spend some time on researching and procuring the best ordering and payment technologies to incorporate into your offering. These will need to be connected to secure systems and link up with relevant business banking facilities. Customers need to know their data, including card information, is secure, and you need to know that you have facilities to authorise and process payments efficiently, reliably and in line with laws and regulations.
Of course, online trading doesn’t stop at payment. You then need to ensure you have all the right processing systems in place for picking, packing, dispatching and delivering. Followed by any after-care support or services.
Don’t be shy… Socialise!
When running an online business, it’s by no means just about having a great website! You also need to get active on social media, shouting from the social rooftops about how much your clients need you!
For the basics, you should be setting up profiles across all the main platforms, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Make sure they look the business, with strong branding and visuals. You also need post content as soon as possible, on a regular basis. Don’t just bombard people with direct adverts, think about creative ways of engaging your market and getting them to talk about your business.
Think about writing a blog, recording a podcast and posting some video. You could also try out live online material, including a Facebook Live or two!