Mar 1 2017
The majority of businesses in the modern world use the internet within their daily operations to some extent. Perhaps you use it to sell certain physical stock on an additional platform or perhaps your company simply uses it to market and promote their business to a wider audience, in order to compete with the other big players in an ever-crowded era of digital business. Either way, this physically-based organisation may have held off from ever operating in an entirely virtual realm; or perhaps you’ve always had an idea for a solo freelance business, such as outsourcing a service in which you have great talent, but you never felt confident that it could ever work on a purely online basis. Well, I’m here to tell you that you were wrong.
The truth is that, in the modern age, almost any business model, whatever the industry, can exist entirely on the internet. Anybody can be an entrepreneur and start a business from the comfort of their bedroom or a small rented office, if they so wish. All you need is the business knowhow and determination to succeed; it terms of resources, it’s all at your fingertips. If you’re wondering how you could possibly get started with an online business and begin to profit through internet-based operations, then here are some tips for getting started, whether you’re a small, local business looking to reinvent itself or a solo entrepreneur working from home.
Create a highly-optimized website.
The place to begin for any online business is, of course, with the website. If you’ve an existing company, you likely already have a website, but perhaps you never considered that this could replace your physical base of operations. Nonetheless, a virtual business space can operate just as well as a physical one, but you need to view your website as the “front of house”, so to speak. Online marketing is so important to the success of a virtual business, because it’s essentially the only way your company will be noticed by its target market. Understanding SEO is important because, much the same as with a busy high street, the stores which push their way to the front are the ones which customers gravitate towards.
To simplify, your business wants to push its way up the rankings on Google search result pages, and this requires an optimised website. You need to focus on popular search terms and a website layout which is responsive to all manner of technological devices. This will not only improve your website’s ranking with regards to Google’s algorithm, but present a professional and aesthetically enticing image to all those who come across your business website.
Make payment options reliable.
Clients expect a certain degree of professionalism from any business, but when transactions take place online, security and intuitiveness are of the utmost importance, as there is likely no face to face element with regards to any transaction. Customers want to know that they can trust your business before trusting your payment system, and a reputable, professionally-designed and transparent website model helps to portray a reliable face, because that’s how physical businesses captivate customers and gain their trust. Ensuring that you secure your credit card payment mechanism will ensure that all reviews are positive and no new customers have cause to doubt the level of security with regards to giving you their personal details.
Keep the company organised.
The most important piece of advice for those of you planning on running an online business is to maintain the same level of structure and organisation that you would have in the same company, were it based in a physical location. You want to portray and project a certain level of professionalism within your business, and the key to achieving this is to let your clients know that your online business still operates in the same way as a “real” business.
For example, perhaps this is your sole business project or perhaps it’s the work of a small team. Either way, the hierarchy must remain and there must be deadlines for work, whether given to your employees or set for yourself. Additionally, you could look into business addresses for a virtual solution to receiving important letters and other documents online, given that you likely don’t want your business PO Box mixed with your personal mail at your physical home address. Even if this is a freelance venture, keeping your personal and business life separate is important.
Build a brand based on customers and not self indulgence.
It’s tempting to get a little carried away when creating a brand, especially as a solo entrepreneur trying to create their own personal empire. The key is to think about what potential customers will want, rather than solely what you would want out of such a business. Your brand needs to portray values that customers will likely share, rather than just talking about innovative and exciting products. Your business needs to remain human, especially if it’s based in a virtual, online world.