Online Business Success TipsEmail This Post | | By Tony Anderson | Category: Home Based Business News
Online business can be different from brick-and-mortar business, but it does not differ in one respect: it is no easier or less complicated than “real world” business. The following are tips for making your online business successful by following solid traditional business techniques:
Tip #1: Plan And Prepare. Before you put finger to keyboard regarding your online business, you should have a well formulated business plan. This should include financial and marketing plans. You need to have a clear and solid budget, so you know exactly how much you can spend on things like website development, finding suppliers, and advertising. A lot of people mistakenly believe that they will be able to get into e-business without spending a cent. This is a fallacy. While there are many things that you can do yourself for free and a lot of information available gratis on the internet, there are other things you are going to have to pay for. You may need to set up a line of credit with the bank. You may need to be able to live partially or entirely off savings if you are not able to give full-time hours to your day-job and full-time hours to developing your business. As far as your marketing strategy goes, it’s not enough to have a great product. You need to know how to promote it. Your strategy should take into account the strengths of your product, your competitor’s weaknesses, and your customer’s needs and desires. People aren’t going to buy from you simply because you’ve posted a product on the internet. There needs to be a clear motivator for them to use your services over all the others available.
Tip #2: Get Some Help. Going it alone is hard. Do you know someone who has successfully opened a similar business? Is there anyone who can mentor you? What services are available in your community? One option is to volunteer your company to be a case study at a business school. Business students will examine every aspect of your online business and inform you where your strengths and weaknesses lie. They will often provide you with a full report of what you can do to improve your business. You can also use Small Business Development Centers (find locations at www.sba.gov). Join entrepreneur groups and small business clubs.
Tip #3: Build Relationships. You need to have a real and solid relationship with every single person you work with. Your suppliers and customers are not simply tools and sales. Your dropshipper or wholesaler is part of your team, and should be treated as such. Communicate with them. Use more personal methods such as phone calls in addition to email. Show your gratitude when they do their job well, and make sure they are always, always paid before you pay yourself. Likewise, let your customers know that you appreciate them, and do what it takes to make them happy when something goes wrong. Taking a small loss is preferable to being blasted in customer satisfaction ratings and by word of mouth, and losing all possibility of future business. Above all, be professional. Having a good business relationship with someone doesn’t mean you can send them a slap-dash email with no capitalization and a dirty joke halfway through. There are more deals lost through poor writing skills than you can possibly imagine. Keep your messages clear and concise, take the time to proofread, and when in doubt, err on the side of formality.
Tip #4: Go The Extra Mile. If you want people to take your online business seriously, YOU need to take it seriously. Don’t have customer emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you get a business email, preferably one that matches your business name. See if you can purchase a domain for yourwebsite that comes with business email accounts. Also, include networking in your promotional efforts. Join sites like LinkedIn. This is a social networking site specifically for business people, and can help connect you with suppliers, buyers, and people who can give you good advice.
Tip #5: Hire A Lackey. When your workload gets past a certain point, don’t be afraid to hire an employee. But be warned, you are trusting this person with your business. Find someone affordable, but quality. Consider a stay-at-home mom, formerly a powerhouse in the industry, now willing to work for you so she can organize her schedule around her two year-old. Use an immigrant (a legal one, obviously), or a graduate student who needs work experience hours. These are all people with excellent skills and experience who are more flexible than your average 9-5er.
Your online business may exist almost entirely in the virtual world, but there is nothing more real than the hard work you’re going to have to put into it. Treat your e-business like a real business, and you are sure to succeed.