The number of internet users is constantly growing and that’s why it sounds logical for companies to shift their businesses online. In this article we provide an overview of current business trends, list the pros and cons online operation comes with, and provide a short step-by-step guide that will make moving your business online much less complicated.
Pros and Cons
Some of the benefits of online business are:
- Lower Costs – Online business doesn’t need as many employees as regular ones. Companies also save money on rent, energy bills, equipment and representation.
- It is Trendy – Lots of business shift their services online, with e-commerce becoming one of the most lucrative sectors with more than $1,3 trillion total profit in 2013 worldwide. Some popular businesses that have moved online are: Sportsdirect, Tesco, Domino’s Pizza, etc.
- It is More Convenient for Customers – They don’t need to spend time and money to reach you, plus online business usually comes with great promotional deals, codes and lots of sales and discounts.
- It is the Perfect Location – The Internet has become the hot bed of the trade and service industry. Unlike regular based businesses that can only reach customers who are living or passing through their area, an internet business can reach all customer interested in its services, no matter where they reside.
On the other hand there are also a few disadvantages that come with online businesses:
- Making a good website might be costly – With the rise of internet entrepreneurship, web designers have much more work, and their services might be costly, although that’s nothing comparing to the money that you will save by cutting payments for workforce, office rent, energy bills, and lots of other costs.
- Lack of trust – An internet business is still a fairly new thing in some social circles, and that’s why some people still view companies that do business online as suspicious.
- Copycats – There are lots of copycats out there, who can steal your ideas and work. This can be easily avoided by copyrighting your patents.
Shifting your business online is a long and continuous process and we will explain the first and the most important part of it, in 5 separate steps.
Step 1: Planning
Moving your business online requires elaborate planning. You company’s products or services need to be well adjusted to the online community’s wants and needs. For some companies, this means a need to develop new business models, find ways to ship products to consumers, introduce new ways of product and service promotion (mostly digital), etc. Future internet entrepreneurs also need to do competition research and invent (or copy from other markets) and implement business models, products and services that are not provided by their future rivals.
Step 2: Narrow Down Your Business
Do you know those handymen that think they can fix everything? Never ask them to fix your household appliances, because after that, you will definitely need to call an expert specialized in fixing the appliances the handyman just broke. Each online business should offer a very narrow list of services or products, at least in the beginning. The Internet gets more crowded each day, and that’s why we need to search for things that our company can do in a unique way and which we can deliver better, faster and cheaper results than our immediate competition.
Step 3: Choose the Right Domain Name
It is like choosing a name for your shop, just a little bit harder, because a domain also comes with a suffix that in most cases determines its price. A good domain name needs to:
- Be short, catchy and memorable;
- Be different than the names of rival companies;
- Have a “.com” domain for international businesses, or a country domain for business that are run in one specific country;
- Be creative;
Step 4: Build Your Website
If you are not into web design, you should definitely hire someone to build your website; especially if you plan to receive payments online. Online stores need to have secure and encrypted paying options like PayPal, credit and debit cards, and secure payment systems like escrow for bigger transactions. One of the ways to make website building less expensive is to hire a web designer on freelance market places such are Upwork or Fiverr. Of course you can also build your own website on platforms like WordPress or Joomla. Since this will be the most important channel through which you stay in contact with your customers, learning a thing or two about web design, or hiring a professional for this task will pay off big time in the future.
Step 5: Create and Run Social Network Accounts
Social networks are great for staying in touch with your audience. Some of the social networks you can use for marketing purposes are Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. Which social networks you choose mainly depends on the type of business your company is running. When it comes to social network marketing, you need to share interesting content and make people like, comment and share your posts, which will make your commercial offers more exposed online.
Online businesses have benn continuously growing since the invention of the Internet. Soon enough we will live in a world where only commercial offers posted online will be interesting to consumers and only companies with great websites and a wide network presence will stay competitive in their niches.