Today, everyone is in a connected world that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Smartphones and the internet continue to change the way our society is changing, and online businesses get formed. We often talk about these changes during our free webinar training and realize that modern technology can and will affect an online business. Instead of shying away from creating an online business, it’s time to harness the power and run a successful business online.
The Balance Small Business says before you even start your business, it’s vital to remember that you must stay true to yourself. It’s hard to go for it when you’re not staying true to who you are and what you would like your online business to become.
Your business is an extension of you, no matter how big or small it is at the present time. It will succeed or fail by how others perceive your brand, and ultimately how they feel about doing business with you. All aspects of your business (customer service, product creation, back office) should respect your values.
The old adage that people like to do business with people they “know, like, and trust” is even truer today. Even with the largest companies, people want to see the CEO come out to represent the company and speak on behalf of it.
Authenticity is the key. You’ve got to be you, whether it’s the smooth, sophisticated type or the person with rough edges and an attitude to match. Only you know what works for you and your target audience, but the one thing that can guarantee failure is not being authentic.
If you're not comfortable being the representative of your business you'll still want to create some type of persona to represent your company and brand and humanize your business as much as possible.
It’s an exciting time setting up your business, but before you totally go gungho don’t forget that it’s essential to set up your company correctly. Amazon Seller Resources blog says you must have a business license or whatever else is necessary to get your online business rolling.
If you want to sell the occasional garage sale item on eBay you dont have to worry about this, but if you want a real business then you have to take the time to set it up and organize it correctly.
Most communities do not require a business license for people operating businesses out of their homes, but some are starting to do this as they see it as a source of revenue. So first check with your local community to see if you need a license.
Next get a sales tax number. Whenever you sell an item that is shipped to someone in the same state you live in, then you need to collect and pay sales tax. To do this you need to register and get a number. Here is a link to an article that explains more about this and has links to the various state taxing agencies where you can apply for a number online. The other reason for getting a sales tax number is that a lot of wholesale sourcing companies will not deal with you unless you have one.
Lastly get an IRS Tax ID Number. You can get this online at IRS.gov. This is just an ID number in the name of your business. This way you are not always giving out your social security number to people you dont know. And once more a lot of companies will not deal with you unless you have one of these numbers.
Rethink Commerce blog recommends two ways to grow an online business, which is to work on your SEO and build a presence on social media. You’ve got to start somewhere, and both of these methods should help your business grow and succeed over time.
Sometimes, success is all about showing up on the first page of search results. Search is a great way to reach potential customers, whether they find you via paid ads or organic search results. To rank high on organic search, you’ll have to write a lot of top-quality content. Until you can achieve this milestone, you might as well invest some money in PPC ads. Either way, when it comes to SEO, you’ll have to test options and monitor your performance closely, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
It’s no longer a choice whether to build a presence on social media. Being social is mandatory if you want to have a successful business. Start by finding out what social networks work best for your content, company or vertical. To increase following, cross-promote your social media accounts in your blog posts, newsletter and other emails. Also, be sure to tone down the “business speak” and engage influencers and followers with catchy content that’s easy to share.
Entrepreneur says it best by stating how important it is to stay on top of your online competition and also manage your online reputation. Both are huge when you’re building your business and hoping to do everything correctly as it continues to change and grow.
Any good business will know its competition. You need to know who you’re competing against so that you know why customers choose you over others, or vice versa. Nowhere is this more important than in the online world.
You should be aware of social media channels your competition is using. And you should inspect keyword usage from all your competitors using the variety of tools Google provides.
Online business is all about reputation. The slightest mistake can taint your brand forever. The key is control. Setup a Google Alerts notification for your brand. That way, you’ll be able to inspect any mention of your brand.
Have a firm set of branding and social media guidelines, so anyone posting on behalf of your brand is aware of what you expect from them. Learn to deal with customer complaints and adopt a mindset of solving problems; even if the customer is wrong.
Lifehack says you should take the time to focus on content marketing, and they’re absolutely right! Content marketing can take place in multiple forms, from blogging to newsletters. Connect with your audience, and they’ll likely turn into customers.
Instead of buying ads on Google or designing some complicated website, you can set up a simple blog or Instagram detailing little facts about your business. You can take a humanist approach which shows your business as being a warm and friendly place, or discuss the ins and outs of the industry in a more technical fashion. As noted above, you have to know what your targeted audience is like and then create content that will cater to them.
Content marketing is more inexpensive compared to traditional appraoches, but it is challenging. You will need to update your content regularly, think of interesting things to say all the time, and create well-crafted blogs or videos to attract people to your website. If you are interested in learning more about content marketing, then the Content Marketing Institute is a great place to start.
If you want to keep your clients or customers around, it’s better to over-deliver as opposed to underdeliver. To keep customers around for the long haul, you must always be thinking ahead and releasing products and services that they’ll love to see.
Set benchmarks for yourself with your products and services, and try to exceed them, simple as that!
This is especially important with your initial offerings, because a strong first impression may mean a host of customers for life. Just imagine the glee on people’s faces because they feel that they have got the better end of the deal! It’s your reward for having given so much value at such a low (or reasonably low) cost. Certainly, expectations will constantly be high, but that’s the way it should be.
Note: When I refer to “low cost” I'm not referring to the actual price. I actually don't believe that competing on price is the best way to compete; rather the perception of the price should be considered a great value from the standpoint of your customers and clients; even if you are charging premium prices.
Over-delivering means going beyond the call of duty at all times to become not only a viable business but a market leader that all others admire and envy.
Remember the purpose of a customer is not to make a sale, rather the purpose of a sale is to get a customer. Make their first purchasing experience with you a great one and they'll continue to buy your products over and over again increasing the lifetime value of your customers an maximizing your revenue.
During our free webinar training, learn how to create a business that helps you achieve your dreams of being a successful online business. By taking the right steps anything is possible.