Every new business venture presents a plethora of challenges, struggles and problems. At the same time, starting your own business can be an exciting and fruitful journey, providing you with the opportunity to meet new people and ultimately gain financial independence from traditional employers.
In today’s highly advanced business world, most new businesses are focusing on their online presences. Even for local brick and mortar entities, developing and maintaining a robust online platform is crucial to sustained traffic and customers. However, an unprecedented number of business ventures are focusing on online-only models, serving customers via websites and apps.
While building an online business may reduce overhead costs and complexity in some respects, it also presents new ordeals to overcome. As such, giving your business every potential advantage to succeed online is paramount to long-term viability.
Today, let’s look at the biggest steps you can take as an entrepreneur to guarantee your online business has a long and bright financial future.
Invest in Your Business Education
One of the most important indicators of whether a business will succeed or fail is whether its owner(s) have the necessary education to effectively run a business. While a formal education in business is not always necessary to be successful, there is a correlation between success and business learning.
By pursuing a Bachelor’s of Business from a local university, or enrolling on one of many online accredited MBA programs, you’ll slowly acquire the professional skills necessary to maximize business performance. For those pursuing education via online accredited MBA programs in particular, you’ll be able to learn at your own pace. The information gleaned from such a commitment will touch on key aspects of business, including inventory management, marketing, supply chain management, customer service and consumer targeting.
As such, investing in a business degree now will ultimately pay dividends for your online business’s performance in the future.
Take Marketing Classes
One advantage local brick and mortar businesses have going for them is the fact that their physical presence is a direct form of advertising. People driving by the business will notice it, and many prospective customers discover its existence by merely stumbling upon it in person. With an online business, such advantages do not exist. Because of this, promotion becomes that much more essential.
Online businesses must have a solid and comprehensive marketing strategy in order to be successful. While you will touch on a variety of marketing basics by pursuing education via online accredited MBA programs and the like, enrolling in additional, stand-alone marketing classes is definitely recommended.
With these efforts, you’ll learn how to target consumers in both physical and virtual mediums, optimize ad budgets for maximum effect, discover which specific marketing efforts pay the most dividends for your business model, and master the art of marketing data analysis. Given that every form of effective marketing ultimately generates profit for businesses, there is no excuse not to take this step and ensure a more fruitful performance for your online company in the future.
Commit to Social Media
Few successful businesses exist today in the online arena without taking advantage of social media. Given the dozens of unique platforms through which consumers of all ages and interests can be reached, choosing which platforms to target may be difficult – but it’s certainly a good problem to have.
Many brands primarily focus on the bigger platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These platforms each offer access to a unique target audience and allow businesses to showcase their products and services in specific ways. Likewise, more niche social media platforms such as Pinterest and Snapchat permit brands to be more kitschy in their promotions, reaching specific audiences that they might not otherwise reach on the more mainstream platforms.
There are two primary ways to utilize social media for online businesses: organic exposure and paid reach. Using Facebook as an example, businesses can build fan pages and expand their audiences through likes. Every time the brand page makes a post, a portion of the audience will see it in their feeds, which presents the opportunity for additional social media interaction and growth. However, it can be quite hard to build an organic following as a new business.
This is where paid marketing campaigns (in this case, Facebook Ads) come in handy. For a relatively small sum of money, brands can put their pages, products and posts in front of thousands of potentially interested consumers, earning clicks, likes, comments and any other interactions imaginable. Whether the goal is to increase engagement on social media or drive traffic to your business website, paid campaigns can help new online businesses build a reliable base of followers that can later be targeted organically.
Be Vigilant About Customer Service
As a new online business, you’ll have little more than your presence. Ultimately, building relationships with customers is one of the most effective ways you can ensure future growth – but you can only do so if you make your initial customers feel special and desired. As word of mouth spreads about your business, it can bolster your reach or permanently neutralize it. This is why customer service is so important to online businesses, as customers have a plethora of choices with respect to where they shop.
Be sure to invest in multiple forms of contact: allow your customers to email, live chat and call you, among other options. Always be proactive in solving any issues or disputes. Offer sincere apologies when things go wrong and promise to make things right. Ensure that your products or services are provided in a prompt and thorough manner, whether they must be shipped or rendered virtually. By giving your customers a sufficient amount of interaction and resolution, you’ll convert these individuals into loyal, walking billboards for your brand.
Ultimately, most businesses fail to succeed in the long term. You can maximize the chances of your online business being successful by providing excellent customer service, utilizing social media effectively, learning the basics of marketing and pursuing formal business education. With these steps taken, you’ll dramatically benefit your business’s prosperity and provide a foundation for future growth.