Today, thanks to the Internet, becoming an entrepreneur is more accessible than ever. There are plenty of online business opportunities, since just about anyone can buy a domain name, put up an e-commerce page, and begin selling their merchandise. This reality also means the competitive landscape is fierce.
According to Business Insider, less than five percent of all online businesses actually make money. This is due to the fact that the entry point to create one is so low. Don’t be fooled: starting an online business may look easy, but if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge, the millions of other websites, as well as your competitors, can drown you out.
Before you build your website, you need to have an online business plan. The following are some key pointers, as well as an online business checklist, which can help you succeed in the rough terrain of the World Wide Web.
Do Your Research
You might have looked into different online business ideas and decided what yours is going to be. You’ve also met all of your legal requirements, which includes choosing a business structure, looking at what taxes you’ll have to file, and meeting all of your state guidelines. Basically, you know how to start an online business, but you might not know why you’re starting it.
If you don’t know why your company should exist, why customers need your product, why they would buy it from you, and why they need it now, then you might need to go back to the drawing board. Customers can’t decide the “why” for you, and they won’t stick around waiting for you to determine it either.
You have to figure out whether or not you’re adding value to the lives of your potential customers with your online business. If you’re providing what a bunch of other companies are already putting out there, you’ll find that customers may go to them instead, especially if the prices are lower. Once you have the “why” covered, you need to determine exactly who your demographic is, where they hang out online, and how you can reach them.
Choose the Right Web Platform
Chances are, you’re not a top-notch web designer as well as an entrepreneur. Most small business owners aren’t, and it’s by no means a requirement.
Before you choose a host like WordPress or Wix, consult with other online business owners, as well as web designers, as to which platform will be the easiest for you. You want to look for something that’s simple for you to modify, as well as effortless for customers to navigate. The site should also be fast, since customers won’t put up with slow loading times, and have a descriptive domain name that customers will be able to remember.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Even with your online business website live, no one will know about it unless you have a strategy for marketing it. This is where knowing who your audience is comes in handy.
For example, let’s say you’re hoping to reach young mothers. You’d want to target them on parenting and women’s websites and blogs. You could also try out sites for children. If you’re not much of a writer, you can hire one to create content (such as an article) for these sites and within the article, insert a link that goes to your online business. Hosting a blog for your audience on your site is another option. Just keep in mind that your content needs to be different in order to stand out. You don’t want to post what’s already readily available on other sites. And it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with copyright law and what constitutes infringement.
You’ll also want to look into where your customers reside on social media sites and set up shop there. Engage by tweeting back at customers when they ask you questions or have complaints, and thank them for commenting on your Facebook page. You should also connect with influencers in your niche who have a lot of followers and ask them if they’d like to do some cross promotion. For a more targeted approach to marketing, you can try out paid search ads on Google and hire a search engine optimization expert to optimize your content.
Reassess Your Progress
Once your site is up and you’ve done a good amount of marketing, it’s time to assess whether you’re getting the results you need.
This is where Google Analytics comes in handy. This online platform can tell how many visitors you had on a particular page, how much time they spent on your website, how many pages they viewed, how many visitors you received in a given time period, and more.
If you haven’t met your sales goals for the month in your e-store, try expanding your marketing efforts. Reach out to customers on social media and see if they have any suggestions. Running an online business is constant work, and you have to stay on top of your game in order to be recognized amongst the competition.