Starting a business can be daunting and oddly enough many people seem to think that starting an online business isn’t so hard! News flash – it is hard, and there’s a lot of competition. The great news is that running a business online can also be incredibly fun and rewarding if you do it the right way. Here are the 10 things I learned from starting my business online.
- Find a niche
The key to starting any successful business is identifying a need in the market and filling it with your unique product or service. More specifically, a “niche” will allow you to target a specific type of consumer and ideally lessen the amount of competition you face.
- Your Website is a Priority
If you’re starting an online business and haven’t realised your website is a priority yet, it’s time for a reality check! Your website is essential for your business – it is where customers come to browse through your products, find information and ultimately, make a purchase. You want your website to be high-quality, attractive and easy-to-navigate. It should reflect your target market. If you’re not a website designer yourself, it may be best to hire someone to bring your vision to life and teach you how to manage your site.
- Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of trying to improve a website’s visibility in a search engine like Google. SEO is extremely important for any business as the higher you are in an engine’s organic (unpaid) results, the more likely it is for a customer to see your site and visit.
- Analyse everything
Analytics sounds boring to most people. Who wants to sit around looking at data, right? When you start an online business, analytics becomes an extremely important and interesting part of your job. It enables you to work out who is clicking on your site, their demographic background, which Search Engine or Social Media channel referred them, how successful your ads are and more. The useful thing about analytics is that you can then use this online data to improve your website. The more you analyse, the more you learn about your business, the more you can improve and the more chance you have of success!
- Listen to your customers
When you initially start working online, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the customers you are serving. Unfortunately, forgetting to listen to customers is one of the biggest causes of business downfall. Just because you can’t see them or talk to them face-to-face, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. By utilising social media, e-mail and the telephone, you can encourage customers to contact you with any queries or problems. This way you are getting direct, qualitative feedback whilst also building a relationship with your customer.
- Stay Relevant
One of the worst things you can do to your business is let it become irrelevant. Maybe you’re too focused on traditional marketing techniques and falling behind with social media, or perhaps you simply aren’t up to date with pop culture and not relating to customers with your products or content. The easiest way to do this is to act like a consumer yourself – consume things that are relevant to your target market. For example, a gossip website or a financial magazine. Then use “trending” topics to write blog posts or create social media content that your customers understand. As for your products or services, constantly search for ways to improve and if you’re in a particular industry, keep abreast of what influencers and competitors are doing. If you’re an online fashion store, this means paying attention come fashion week!
Having friends, associates and mentors in your industry and beyond can be incredibly helpful when starting a business. Whether you’re already friends, met through someone else or connected online, these people can be your advisors, testers and even work for you if you need someone with their skillset. Moreover, if they believe in your business, they are more likely to spread the word to their own network.
- Learn New Skills
The online business realm is constantly growing, with new technology and platforms emerging regularly. The only way to keep up with all the changes is to commit to learning new skills. You may take a practice makes perfect approach, ask a colleague or friend to help you or undertake a short course in a certain area (SEO for example).
- Realistic Expectations
There have been many online stores that have experienced a lot of success in a short space of time. However, it’s important not to assume that you will be one of those online businesses. If you start expecting a quick and easy result, you’re kidding yourself and will only end up disappointed. Aim for your business to grow realistically – set goals for each month encompassing sales, social media followers and website visitors.
- Don’t Give Up
Starting a business can be hard, and an online business is no different. Perhaps the most important tip is to never give up. It sounds generic, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you have started your business and it isn’t taking off like a rocket. Good things take time! Keep working hard and watch your brand grow – imagine how much you will regret it if you don’t!
- Find a niche