Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to solve problems. Current problems the world faces, because of the Covid-19 crisis, are social distancing, working remotely, economic instability and the closure of businesses.
This has lead to many opportunities to open/move a small business online. This could be the solution to many of the problems business owners face and could provide a much-needed source of income in the current economic climate.
Here are some tips for starting an online business.
Find a need and fill the gap
As an entrepreneur, you have to find a solution to an everyday problem people face. Do research about problems people experience and make sure you choose the right niche market. Look at existing products/services on the market and find a competitive and cost-effective solution no one has thought of yet.
Focus on solving one burning problem in an industry you know well. It doesn’t have to be complicated but you should clearly define your product or service and the goals you want to achieve.
Online forums/platforms and social media can be useful for doing research if you are unable to leave the house. Market research will help ensure you have a viable idea before throwing everything you have into your venture. Read our blog post about the importance of social media for entrepreneurs here.
Note: Start a business that matches your skills, experiences and personality. You will be more satisfied and dedicated in a business that matches who you are, what you believe in and what you want to achieve.
Create a good sales and marketing strategy
After you have conducted research, established your niche market, developed a product/service that beats your competition, written a business and financial plan you need to create and implement a sales and marketing strategy.
Because you cannot talk to potential clients face-to-face, you will need to create a solid online sales strategy that clearly describes your product/service, its benefits, pricing and competitive advantages.
Make sure your online sales content and marketing material contain the following:
- A compelling headline that will grab potential customers’ attention
- Competitive pricing
- Describe the problem your product/service solves
- Describe the advantages of using your product/service
- Establish your credibility as a reliable business by proving you can solve the problem at hand
- Gather and share testimonials from satisfied customers
- Offer new clients special offers
- Create urgency
Throughout your sales and marketing content, focus on how your product or service is unique and able to solve people's problems or make their lives better.
Design and build your website
Once you have created your sales and marketing strategy, you have to design and build your website. This will be your virtual storefront and the first impression potential clients will have of your business. It is important to spend time on the website to ensure you grab clients’ attention immediately.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep it simple (such as uniform use of fonts, high quality and relevant images)
- Make the message, navigation, options and purchasing process clear and simple
- Use graphics and audiovisual content only if it enhances your product/service
- Create an opt-in offer to collect potential clients’ email addresses for future communication
- Make it easy and customer-friendly to make a purchase
- Ensure every part of the website works (on a computer as well as smart phone)
Use search engine optimisation to drive potential clients/customers to your site
Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a new website. The adverts show up on the search pages immediately and allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches.
Once you’ve determined what works, you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Note: If you are unsure how to do this yourself, or if you have some extra money for this kind of marketing, approach a professional agency to assist you.
Establish yourself as an expert in your industry
Make sure you provide expert information about the industry in which you operate free of charge (in the form of blog posts, social media content, information videos and media articles). Because people use the internet to find information, you'll see more traffic and better search engine rankings if you offer value-added content on your site (and on other sites, linking back to your website). It will also establish you as an expert in your field and build trust with current and potential clients.
Use email marketing to turn visitors into clients/customers
By building an opt-in list (of clients’ email addresses), you are creating a valuable asset to turn potential clients into new buyers. By opting in, customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them an email.
You can use email marketing as a cheap and effective means to develop a relationship with potential clients, introduce them to your products/services and measure their interaction/responses. Furthermore, you can keep current clients by offering them special deals in email marketing material and by sending them information about new products/services available.
Increase your customer’s lifetime value
Customers are the most important part of your business. Make sure you follow up with clients/customers who have used your product/service previously and build a longterm relationship with them. Closing the first sale is the most difficult and expensive part, so, once you have them on board, use back-end selling and upselling to get them to make another purchase. You can do this by offering them products/services that complement their original purchase, you can offer them loyalty rewards, or offer them related products after they make their first purchase (on the “Thank you” page).
You can read our blog post about retaining customers here.
Build your business for the longterm
You want to build a business that will last for years, offering great solutions to your clients/customers’ problems. Don’t do it if you think you’re going to make a quick buck. Think about where you want your business to go and work out a way to get there. Setting measurable goals every year, five years and 10 years will help you maintain focus.