Do you want to build an online business? Then you need to think like a business.
When choosing to start an online business many people think that it is easy to do, and I feel that there are many points in common with a bricks and mortar business that potential online business operators miss. The most important being that you should treat your online business as you would an offline one.
How does a business get started?
Generally speaking, a potential bricks and mortar business builder will take a few basic steps.
- find a premises to operate from that meets its requirements.
- purchase tools and equipment.
- obtain the required stock to sell or allow a service to be offered.
- prepare paperwork for tax purposes, connect to utilities, obtain licences and insurance and basic business operating necessities.
- organize signage.
- advertise to let people know who you are, what you offer and how you can help them.
- employ staff to help operate the business.
In an online world it is basically the same formula.
- you set up a website, or similar. You need a place to operate from even if it is within someone else’s website.
- find software to perform operational tasks.
- find a product to sell or promote, or create your own product (or maybe offer a service that is performed online).
- advertise and promote.
- prepare paperwork for tax purposes, ensure that you have an internet connection, obtain licences and insurance and basic business operatring necessities in the same way manner any business is required to do.
- you can even use the services of a virtual assistant.
The advantage of an online business is that it is less expensive to set up and run and you have access to a world-wide audience. The disadvantage is that you a small fish in a very large ocean and you really need to work to have people see you.
How do you deliver your product or service to a customer?
In both online and offline businesses, you need to be relevant to what the customer needs and you need to solve their problem.
The business will need to offer its product or service at a price the person is happy to pay. Finally, the business will need to make a sale and follow through with delivery that meets the customer’s expectations. Customer service remains important in order to protect the business’ reputation. This will help to retain existing as well as gain more customers.
Continue, rinse and repeat. You need to replace customers as people move, change their mind, find another supplier or simply no longer require your service. Some products may be single use and you may need to consider selling another product or service to retain the customer or asking for referrals to help grow the business.
What does this mean?
You do need to relate all this to your business so that you don’t forget that you are in business and you always need to try and think like a business.
A business will need time and effort to grow. You cannot put in an hour a week and expect your business to thrive. This is the same whether you have an offline or an online business. If you only dabble then you have a hobby, not a business.
A business needs to let its potential customers know what service it can offer. Signage (whether on a building, or a website home page) is just a visual representation. You want to feed a potential customer’s emotional needs.
The main point of a business needs to satisfy the needs of potential customers.
I don’t mean that the customer is always right. You cannot please all the people all the time and I wouldn’t try to. If someone simply does not like you or your service, then gently encourage them to find someone who can satisfy their requirements.
Some businesses bend over backwards and change their rules to suit an obnoxious customer only to lose good customers as a result. My advice is to stay true to your purpose.
Always remember that you can please some of the people some of the time. Agree to differ with people who don’t believe in your message rather than lower your own values.
How can you make your business grow?
A business takes time to build and prosper.
As mentioned above, it needs to be set up correctly with the proper equipment and the correct level of staff to perform the required tasks. It cannot be successful overnight. Time and effort will be required.
In order to reach customers, you need to get your message heard.
This can be from paid advertising or free promoting through social media and other avenues. There is no reason that an online business cannot advertise through the traditional mediums like radio, television, billboards, paper or even junk mail.
Of course, this costs money but should never be ruled out if you can find an audience that needs your online product or service.
A business needs constant research and monitoring. There is always a better way of doing the same job and the business that adapts to meet its customers’ expectations has a better chance of survival than one that doesn’t.
What is the point of this message?
I have written this to help give you some ideas of the strategic thinking that you should have if you plan to build an online business.
It will not be easy, and just like a bricks and mortar business, some people will not survive. It is not always because they did not try hard enough, it can be that the market direction altered, and they did not see the writing on the wall.
Any business needs to continually monitor the market and adapt.
Do you think that you have what it takes to build an online business? I hope this will help keep you focused. If you have any questions about the points I have raised, please leave me a comment below.
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