An online business is a lot like a free-standing brick and mortar business but not quite the same. Online business advice is geared to the unique challenges that online business faces. There are many things that your online business has in common with a brick and mortar business, but there are also many things that are unique to conducting business strictly online.
The right online business advice can help you to face the challenges that your business may be up against. The difference between brick and mortar business advice and online business advice is that some of the B&M advice for business simply does not apply.
There is some advice that is going to be relevant whether your business is completely an eCommerce business or it is a B&M business or a combination of both. For example, if your business revolves around the sale of products than freight management advice, how to find pallets for sale, and freight services advice may be relevant across the board.
On the other hand if your online business provides a service like building a custom website, or another service, freight services or other product warehousing advice is not really relevant for you. You likely are not interested in safes for business or commercial lighting services if your business is strictly online. But, payroll funding whether you are an eCommerce business or a traditional storefront business will have some relevance for you.
Weeding out the relevant from the irrelevant is important. You do not want to waste reading about advice that just does not impact your business.
The online business advice that you find here will stay focused on those topics that are going to be relevant to the online business owner. It will cover topics like the packaging for e-commerce, warehousing solutions for e-commerce businesses, marketing solutions, and financial advice.
Online Business Advice For All Online Businesses
Online business advice for the type of business you are conducting can differ. For example, if you sell products, there is specific advice, if you sell a service there is specific advice, but regardless of what you are selling there are is some advice that should be applied.
Here is a list of online business advice that is relevant regardless of the type of business you have:
- Make sure you are using the right Windows Server package
- Security has to be a high priority
- Have a marketing strategy
- More is not always more when it comes to marketing
- Ask for help when you need it
- Don’t be afraid to delegate duties
- Functional, user experience is the priority right under providing a secure environment for users
Many new online business owners make the same mistake. They either overestimate the type of server hosting package they will need or they seriously underestimate it. The best way to circumvent this error is to get a Windows server package that is flexible.
Lucking today you do not have to buy a bunch of hardware to open an online business. You can choose what many business owners are choosing. A virtual windows server package can put you in control without costing you an arm and a leg. If you are just getting started with your business you can start out on the right foot by going the virtual server route instead of doing an in house server.
One of the most important things for any business is to provide a secure environment for users. It used to be having reliable safes for business was all the protection you needed. Security has to be a priority. If you are not sure if you have taken all the steps that you need then consult with a cybersecurity firm that can provide you with some insight.
The quickest way to lose consumer’s trust is to have a security breach. Beyond losing the trust of the consumers, of course, is the damage that it can do to your data and system. This is not an area to skimp in. Data is currency today, protect yours.
There is no one size fits all marketing strategy. Every business brings something different to the table, which means every business deserves a marketing strategy that emphasizes the unique qualities it has to offer.
One of the newbie mistakes is to find a marketing template online, and then take it and try to apply it to your business as is. It is fine to use a marketing template but it has to be tweaked to attract your audience.
Getting to know your demographic before you develop your marketing strategy is vital. Getting to know your audience will help you to tweak your marketing strategies to focus on that audience. For example, if you know what your audience is largely male between the ages of 49-70 you will not want to invest a lot of time working the Pinterest marketing angle, because studies show that this demographic is not on Pinterest.
One of the most valuable pieces of online business advice is to know your audience so you know where to find them. There is tons of research that you can find that can help you to develop a marketing strategy that will work for your business. Of course, if you do not have the time or the desire to develop your own, you can always hire a team to do it for you.
A good marketing strategy should answer yes to the following questions:
- Does this strategy support the unique nature of the business?
- Does the strategy support the five forces of business that every business faces?
- Does this strategy support the most important goal?
It is important that a marketing strategy is developed with a focus on the unique products or services that you are trying to sell. Watered down strategies that are all over the place or that are really two or three strategies rolled into one are weak. In other words, if you are selling transport to the airport but you also have a side business where you sell baseball caps, pick one or the other to build your strategy around.
The five forces that shape every business are the future competition, the current competition, consumer’s bargaining power, supplier’s bargaining power, and substituted products. The marketing plan should support these five forces.
Most business owners would answer that selling more goods or services is the most important goal, but is it really? Sure selling more is a goal but isn’t building a strong following of loyal customers a better goal? Give some serious consideration as to what your most important goal is and make sure that you build your strategy around that goal. This is not only online business advice, but this is also advice for every business owner.
A lot of new business owners make the mistake of planning to market their business on all channels. It can be overwhelming to try cross-post and try to get attention on every social media channel. You have to use the channels where your audience is. Choose your channels carefully or you will wind up chasing windmills and spending more time and money than you need to.
For example, earlier on we talked about Pinterest and how your demographic may not be found there. Your demographic may not be on Twitter, or Facebook, or Linkedin, or they may be. The point is don’t waste your marketing time and or money on futile attempts. More advertising does not necessarily mean better results.
If you struggle with getting to know your audience or making decisions about which channels are worth the effort get professional help. There are firms that will do all the leg work for you and you can stay focused on your core business.
Get Help When You Need It
You may have a great online business idea but are not that tech-savvy. Don’t miss out on the potential profits because you do not want to ask for help. One of the most important pieces of online business advice to keep in mind is that you have to approach your online business like you would any business and that means getting professional help when you need it.
There are plenty of online groups and message boards out there where people that have found success are willing to mentor to people that are just getting started. If you are struggling and you need help in many cases all you have to do is ask for it.
Rarely do you find a successful business owner that truly did it all on their own. They are successful because they got help along the way. Know your weaknesses and seek help when you need it.
In the beginning, you are going to have to work really hard because you will likely not be able to afford to pay someone else, but as success starts to find you, do not be afraid to start delegating out some of your duties. The CEO should not be spending their time looking for pallets for sale, make sure you are not trying to control too much and allow your employees to make decisions.
This sounds like online business advice that is easy to follow, but you would be surprised by how many small online business owners just do not take this advice. It can be hard to turn over some control when it is a business that you built but there are reasons that you want to learn to delegate duties.
If your business is growing and you are in charge of everything, there are bound to be things that fall through the cracks. Delegating duties will free you up to focus on other business obligations like expansion and marketing.
Of course, there is one other reason that when you can, you should delegate some responsibilities. You likely did not open your online business so that it could consume your life. You likely opened an online business so that you could have more free time. Hire people when you are able to, to help you manage your business so you do not burn out.
Online Business Advice For Your Website
We touched briefly on a couple of areas that will affect user experience on your custom website. We talked about security and about servers but there is a lot more to considerate. One of the most important parts of online business advice has to do with your website.
User experience is everything to your online business. Your website has to be fine-tuned to ensure that it is highly functional and responsive. You want visitors to be impressed by your website and find that it functions perfectly.
Studies indicate that visitors will navigate away from your page in the first three seconds if there is a lag or it Is not functioning right. In most cases, visitors that have navigated away because of function problems will not be back.
Outdated information, poorly written content, and less than engaging content will also drive traffic away. Your website is the most important part of your marketing strategy and it is the backbone of all the business that you will do online.
Of all the online business advice there is none more important than taking care of your website. If you do not have time to manage it properly then hire someone to do it for you. For an online business, whether you are selling a product or a service your website is the face of your business. Well-coordinated freight services can get the product to your customer, but the website gets the customer to you.User experience while on your website can determine whether you will earn a loyal customer or wind up taking a hit to your online reputation.
Plan And Then Think Outside the Box if You Need to
The competition is fierce for online businesses. You can help to even the playing field by planning every aspect of your business than remaining flexible if you need to make changes. Every set back is a learning experience. Your final piece of online business advice is to always remain flexible and willing to evolve.