Selling products or services online is certainly a popular way to move into small business. There are many things that attract people to this type of opportunity: flexibility, ease of starting and convenience e.g. working from home.
If you're considering starting up an online business, here's a few things to keep in mind.
Trouble spots with online businesses
Online businesses are thriving around the globe but can go bust for common reasons.
No promotion or Advertising of their site
Too many businesses get a website and spend money on setting up the best looking site with search engine optimisation (SEO) but fail to see why they should advertise. Once you're out there, people will still need to find you amongst the millions of other businesses vying for attention. SEO can help but it has a slow onset and isn't the answer to everything. Paid advertising using Google Adwords, targeted banners and directories can generate mush faster traffic in the short-term than SEO.
Make sure this is included as part of your online marketing strategy with adequate budget funding when you develop your business plan.
Generating initial and even ongoing traffic is one of the hardest battles any online business has to face. Aside from advertising tactics, you will need to think of other means to drive traffic ongoing whether this through affiliate marketing, ezine article publishing or links. Getting insufficient traffic will mean inadequate sales and then its only a short road to business insolvency.
Websites aren't setup well to make money
Decide at the outset whether you are selling products and services or advertising on your site. If you are just selling advertising, then you need really good content and an ongoing ability to deliver this for website visitors to return. No one is interested much in just coming back to read Google Ads, so if you want to get consistent income, understand what content you need to be delivering and maintain the quality and consistency.
Good content is advisable for product and service sites, especially where the site needs to establish credibility or where customers value content. Where the purchasers are just after the product you offer, you can get away with less content. However, it is certainly then advisable to ensure the purchase process is as quick, easy and professional as you can make it.
Poor Follow-up of their customer
One other area that can be variable in online businesses is their post-purchase follow-up, either to receive customer feedback about the quality of the purchase process or about the product itself. Done well, this can be an ideal opportunity to sell more products or establish a re-visit to the site for upcoming products. Spend some time reviewing your process, and looking at how you liked to be treated online. This will give you some ideas as will a visit to any of the successful online businesses such as Apple, Amazon etc.
Research before you start
One of the best things you can do for an online business startup or for any biz opportunity that you are interested in, is to research what you going into thoroughly. It goes without saying that you should know quite a lot about any product or service you are selling online but also if you aren't at this point yet, you need to come up to scratch about how things are done online.
There are plenty of resources available on this, including your local government BEC, online government small business sites and websites like this one.
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