Are you thinking of quitting your 9-5 office job in favour of writing an online course, starting an e-commerce store, or setting up a freelancing Business Online? You’ve probably heard the rags-to-riches stories of people who ventured online and turned to multimillionaires. From Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Amazon’s Bezos, the dream of making a sustainable passive income online is alive and kicking.
What you won’t hear (often) is how much time and effort actually goes into making an enterprise successful. This article focuses on three aspects of doing business online you should know before emailing your boss your two-week notice.
1. You Don’t Have to Make Money Immediately to Be Successful
An online business’s “success” is no longer contingent on it actually turning a profit in its first few years. Some of the most famous companies across the entertainment and lifestyle sector- like Netflix and Amazon- only recently started turning a profit. Despite the fact that Amazon was incorporated in 1994. The online shopping company only experienced a profitable quarter in 2003, nearly a decade after its launch. And there’s still debate as to whether it actually makes money.
So if you’re an entrepreneur selling online but your numbers aren’t where you would like them to be, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Most successful online businesses don’t see a high return on investment in the first couple of years. As long as people are still buying from you and you’re learning something new about your enterprise every day – then you’re headed in the right direction.
The first year of business will most likely be your hardest. Always know how much money you have. Do you have enough capital to sustain you for at least the first year? Too often business owners scramble to raise funds when it’s already too late.
From the beginning, have a plan on where you’ll get more funds in case you run out and your business still isn’t turning a profit. Your financial plan should have detailed milestones on how much money it will take to get your business where you want it. You’ll need to create:
- A business marketing and advertising strategy.
- A list of products and services to offer and a pricing strategy.
- Procedures and processes for various profit goal timelines.
- And account for burn rate and unforeseen business expenses like shrinkage- lost inventory between supplier and consumer.
2. Customer Service and User Experience Should Be Your #1 Focus
With so many of your business transactions happening online, it’s easy to forget you’re dealing with people and not accounts. Customers are more likely to return to your website if you offer excellent customer service and a great user experience.
Clients who are unhappy with your product or service can write about their experience in review sites like Yelp or leave comments on social media pages and forums. Giving your business a bad online reputation. Which for an “online” business is akin to getting the plague- no one will go near your store.
Have a customer service plan in place so you know how to respond to complaints and queries. Take note of customer feedback and use the information to improve the quality of service you offer. It will go a long way in helping you turn those 2-stars into 4-stars, building a positive online reputation.
Based on recent statistics, the growth in mobile shopping as compared to physical shopping and desktop shopping is remarkable. With mobile internet use rising to 4.5 trillion hours from 3.8 trillion hours this year and mobile shopping predicted to drive 54% of sales by 2021.
Therefore, making sure your website is easy to navigate on mobile phones should be a no-brainer. If user’s have trouble viewing your site from their favourite devices, they’ll leave your business before even looking at your product or service offering. And you’ll lose out on making a sale in the 4.5 trillion hours people send on mobile phones.
3. Know How to Use Online Tools of The Trade
Your business is an extension of yourself. It will succeed or fail based on how you conduct transactions, manage capital, and use resources. For an online business, utilizing resources means knowing how to use online tools- your tools of the trade.
Learn the basics of Mailchimp, an email automation tool to manage your email list. Know how to create eye-catching graphics that are consistent with your brand. And because your business is ‘online’, it’s also a good idea to learn how to code. For one thing, you won’t have to outsource work each time you want to add or remove elements from your website.
Regardless of how small or big your business is you’ll need to know how to collect and analyse data. Create reports on pages users view the most on your website to understand customer behaviour then direct traffic accordingly.
Understanding data analytics gives your business the agility and ability to pivot when online markets and industry patterns change. Giving you a greater chance of turning your online venture into a successful business.