Tips when starting an online business

The first stage of launching a successful business is to get the foundation correct. Many people are look at sales with rose tinted glasses and expect that just by putting your products on line, the huge sales that we all want will flood in. However, most businesses fail in the first 12 months by not having a realistic expectation of results.

Step 1

You have a great idea, that everyone you talk to loves, but before investing your money research the market. Is your product or service currently out there? The internet is a great place to see what else is out there that might compete with you.

If you do find the product is there, check if it has a copywrite preventing your from competing. If there are multiple companies offering what you would like to, then do market research to properly assess if the opportunity is viable.

Do your homework, this involves researching all of the competitors, what are their unique selling points. How much are they selling their services for and where it is being sold.

Step 2

Do your costings, to work out if you can offer your services or products at a price that is competitive in the market place. If you are selling a handmade premium product you do not have to be the cheapest supplier, however being the most expensive will almost certainly negatively impact your sales. For instance if you are an international courier service and offer to send parcel to Spain for more than DHL or FedEx charge, then you are unlikely to get many sales.

Step 3

Think about where your potential clients are and how you will reach them. Just putting your products online is unlikely to generate a stream of sales.

Most businesses will need to spend time and money on PPC, SEO, email, social media and more to promote their products online. This may involve developing several different strategies for different marketing methods, or for different target clients. Hence, it is vital to consider what digital tools you need to grow your business.

Step 4

Give clients the option to select what they want. This includes customisation and the ability to select the delivery option that suits them. It might be great for an international client to have their parcel to USA sent on an express service, however this has a higher cost than the cheapest international courier service that might take a few days longer to deliver. Giving clients that choice will ensure that they can select the service that meets their needs and increases the chance that they will become a client.

Step 5

Communication is king, as an e-commerce seller getting the correct message out there is critical to your success. You need to produce valuable social content and your descriptions and captions need to be persuasive. Ensure that your marketing includes plenty of calls to action to turn visitors in clients.

Step 6

Test your ideas on the smallest budget possible and only invest more once your results show that your ideas are correct. The quickest way to lose money is to spend on an untested idea. If it does not work, do not waste money scaling up. Remember the best bit of business advise I was ever given is, “your first loss is your smallest loss” and I have found this to be true over and over again.

Step 7

Scale up any success that you have had in step 6.  When you have success, you are in a position to maximise it. Banks or investors will usually help you to fund a growth business if you have evidence that you can get profitable sales.

Step 8

Monitor your social media and ensure that you reply to all responses as your online reputation will be critical to your success. Try to stay clear of topics that are very emotive as these can backfire even if they look like they might give lots of visitors in the short term.

Step 9

Research shows that people are browsing online now via their mobiles more and more with 26% of conversions coming from smart phones or tablets. So now having a mobile optimised website is essential for the future, so invest some money here to future proof your business.

Step 10

Make your online profile trustworthy. Many potential clients will now research online other users experiences before making a buying choice. So build your online trust by using an independent Google approved review collection service, and display your best reviews next to your products or services. If you add Rich Snippet code to your webpages, your review score and gold stars may also be displayed next to your any entries in search engine results.

I hope that these tips help you build a successful new online business.

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