Starting a small online business is exciting, fun, and a lot of work. Sadly, people tend to forget the last part.
However, for most online entrepreneurs, burning the midnight oil and a lack of life/work balance is par for the course. After all, you’re chasing a dream, wanting to transform it into reality – if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Here as 6 things to know before starting your first online business.
1. Most New Businesses Fail
We won’t quote the statistics about the percentage of failed businesses, including online ones, as we’re sure you’ve heard them before.
The stats are skewed because it ignores entrepreneurs who founded multiple ventures with the most recent one being the biggest hit; they only highlight the previous failures included in the data.
Entrepreneurs must push hard until they succeed, pivot to something better, and be willing to start over. It’s not an easy road, but it’s made easier with an online business.
2. Prefer to Start from Scratch or Buy Something Already Successful?
Don’t automatically assume that you need to start from scratch. You’re at risk with a new business model, no customers, and risky upfront expenditure.
Instead, you may want to buy an established website. When buying from a reputable source, these are pre-vetted, have established income streams, loyal customers, and have been around for a few years (older online businesses command a higher multiple of net income).
It may be a larger upfront investment, but often it’s a safer one.
3. Business Plans Don’t Mean Anything
We don’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare one. You should. We’d recommend it. Just don’t get married to it because the divorce will be long and costly.
Business on the internet evolves constantly. Just like with going to war where soldiers confirm that “no plan survives first contact,” it’s similar with online business too.
What you learn while in business in the first months opens your eyes. It often necessarily urges rapid change to accommodate demanding customers, to fix issues that weren’t obvious when the virtual doors were first opened, etc.
4. Develop a Plan B, Plan C, etc.
A single point of failure… If you don’t fully understand what that means, it’s necessary to learn it! Even if you’re non-technical, you can still grasp the broad strokes.
Websites drop off the internet or the shopping cart stops functioning for a variety of reasons. When they do, you’re losing money. Offline for days at a time, the search engines will notice, and you may begin to lose your keyword rankings. Then when back online, traffic will have halved.
On the other hand, though setting up an online business can save you money, you should still think of all the necessary expenses when running an online business. Expenses such as web hosting fees, web domain costs, maintenance fees for your site, even your electricity at home, and other software you opted to use. You can opt for a startup credit card to cover these expenses. In addition, using it can help you monitor and control your spending.
Develop multiple plans for what you’ll do under different scenarios. Have a plan B, a Plan C, etc. Don’t get caught without a plan of action. It could save your business later.
5. Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media marketing can deliver followers, but also new site visitors and a few buyers. It can also turn into your worse nightmare too.
A consistent brand voice and identity must be used across all marketing, including social media channels. Know who’ll be responsible for social media communications. Ensure they are trained in what not to say, not just what to say. Damage to brand reputation is difficult to fix after the fact.
Also, create all the social channels before launching the site. That way, you won’t have interlopers grabbing the channel name before you get the chance to do so.
6. Use Content Marketing to Generate Free Traffic
Content marketing provides the opportunity to write knowledgeably about your industry and help customers at the same time.
Plan to have a few articles ready to immediately publish when the site is launched. This way, it establishes the pattern early and allows more time for the articles to rank. The keywords inside the articles should drive traffic to the site from interested people. It’s an effective way to market independently of paid advertising, etc.
By getting going on certain aspects of the site before it’s launched, you’re several steps ahead already. Then you’re in a better position to adjust your approach based on customer feedback after launch day.