Thursday, May 24, 2018

Setting up an Online Business: The Baby Steps

A lot of people and companies are taking their products, goods and services online.  And why not?  As of the last count, Nielsen Online reported in September 2009 that there are roughly 1.73 billion Internet users in the whole world.  That number represents a little more than a quarter of the world's total population.  Imagine being able to reach more than a billion people to buy your products!

 Not only that, but getting online means that you are in the league of bigger companies and retailers.  Your company may be a start-up, or you may be a struggling small business, but on the Internet it does not matter.  Your products will show up in a search engine result page along side, if not higher than, products offered by big retailers.  That is how the Internet is leveling the battleground.

In fact, a survey conducted by Easynet Connect found that almost half of small businesses thought that the Web is an important tool that can bring in more sales and allow them to play with the big guys, enabling them to get away from the recession.  A fifth of the respondents said that it is their "most important" resource.

 

So how exactly do you get your business on the Web?  Here are some tips for starting up.

 

1. Know the plan.

As with any business effort, your online venture should be carefully planned out.  How much funding do you have?  What exactly will your online business be?  How do you plan to fulfil orders?  How do you plan to market your site and your products? What are your benchmarks for measuring success?

Creating a plan would help you have an objective view of what you could expect, and if you have the time, money, resources and know-how to go about these.  In return, you would get to focus on what is possible and feasible for you.  Admittedly, there are a lot of choices to be made, and it would help if you could narrow down the options you have.  Having a plan can help you achieve this.

Keller Fishback

For example, although most people would want to put up a complex checkout system that stores your buyers' personal data and the things they have bought.  This system would allow you to automatically e-mail them in few months' time and offer them a discount or present to a new related product.  However, if you find that your budget would not be able to accommodate this, you might want to hold it off for the time when you are more successful, and you have been operating cash to pay for a checkout program that would do what you want.

 

2. Test the waters out.

Instead of diving head on and getting a Web hosting company, hiring a Web site designer and programmers right on, you might want to test the online environment first.  You could avail of free tools like WordPress blogs or Google's free site suite that allows you to have your own Web site.  These services are not only free of charge, but they are also easy to use.

Go about setting up your blog or Web site like you would in a business site.  In this manner, you can get a real feel of how your business would run online.  Sell your products on these free platforms, use them to service your customers, and fulfill orders and the like.  Then, market these sites like putting them on your e-mail signatures, or on your business cards.

Testing out the waters can help you achieve two things:  you get to have a way to fine tune both your experience and your skills.  You might not know it, but you might end up not hiring a Web site designer and just do the design yourself, saving you money in the process. 

And there are also some people who have succeeded using these free platforms that they do not need to use paid hosting and other services to do their business online.

 

3. Launch your Web site!

Your Web site is your business' online storefront.  It holds the information about your products and services, how to get them and how to pay for them.  Give as much thought to your Web site’s content as much as you would give your physical store thought.  Be aware also that there is third-party software that could provide you with reliable services: anything from Web site design, to shopping cart software, site maintenance.  If you are unable to do any of these, for some reason, outsource!

4. Market your site, as well as your products.

A nicely done Web site would amount to nothing if people do not know about it.  The good news is, it is free to get listed on search engines and that is the most important step in disseminating information about your products and your store.  Plus, according to your budget, you can choose from an array of online marketing techniques for a more aggressive marketing strategy.

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