Starting an online business is easier than ever. How?
Starting a business is always a serious undertaking, but the proliferation of online businesses or e-businesses we see today has resulted in a wide opening for those looking to get into a small business. E-businesses involve the selling of products or services directly from a website. The reasons are pretty clear, with low barriers to entry, smaller upfront investments, less reliance on physical spaces and less infrastructure costs. OK, so what are some key tips and considerations for getting onto this e-business game?
Find your gap
With the abundance of opportunity come the problems of overcrowding. When the internet became a common marketplace in the 2000’s the obvious lines of business were flooded. These days as a result there is a certain barrier to entry in terms of figuring out your niche, or doing it better (or louder) than your competitors. Luckily though, as e-businesses grow, so too do the internet-connected consumers.
This is a matter of both marketing and business modelling – you need to not only have a fantastic idea that fills a gap in the market, but you also need to position your business visibly in this gap to attract sales. So find your niche product or service, find your unique brand name, find your edge, make a statement and hopefully find a unique domain name that remains available. Find your social handles, make sure your ideas are not already taken and make your mark.
The right space
If you are stocking products for your online business, will you be shipping from home or from a warehouse? There are many options out there for packing shipping and storage, including options that are entirely offsite. This is called drop shipping and it’s an intriguing choice that involves sending orders to suppliers and wholesalers who ship directly to the customer on your behalf. You will scarcely touch the product.
Alternatively you may be stocking, packing and shipping in house. Figure all of this out beforehand so you know whether this is something you can run from a home office or perhaps you will need to lease an appropriate space. If you will be drop shipping from home, make sure you have a separate home office to separate family life and business. If you want to ship yourself you will need a far more sophisticated setup and storage space.
Make your systems bombproof
Your e-business will be entirely reliant on your computing technology, software, internet connection, even your electricity. It needs to be utterly bombproof. What would happen if your website went down, your internet modem freaked out or your PC crashed? Your online business crashes too. If your system failure is bad enough? Game over buddy, enjoy mopping up the mess.
So with that in mind you need backups. Grab a backup 4G modem in case of internet outage. Use cloud storage to backup all you files in case of a hardware crash. Heck, if you experience blackouts with any kind of frequency – even a petrol generator could be necessary! In addition to backups and plan B’s you should also be investing in the best quality of equipment and software you can afford. Think about upgrading your devices, installing antivirus software, updating your software and start thinking about worst case scenarios with a serious mindset. You aren’t firing off personal emails and playing online chess anymore. This is serious business, so get serious with your systems.
Your website must be impeccable
Your website when running an e-business is much more important than a usual homepage. It is THE business. While many companies need a solid website, yours needs to be a shopfront, checkout, marketing machine, information cache and complaint department all in one.
You will need outstanding UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) to ensure your products are clearly displayed, searchable and the journey to a sale contains the least amount of steps possible. It needs to be clean, simple and point your user toward the intention as smoothly as possible. It needs to be fast and stylish, with a well branded interface and snappy menus.
Furthermore you will need a great checkout experience which engenders trust. Make sure you invest in a market leading checkout solution such as shopify, which integrates into your cloud accounting software such as Reckon One. You must also ensure your web security is top notch. One hacked card could spell doom for your business in this day and age, so as above with your systems – you need to get it right.