Thanks to the online platforms that have emerged in the internet era, we now have endless opportunities for self-employment. However, as anyone who has ventured into the vast e-commerce arena knows, simply having a presence on the internet isn't enough. Without a sound marketing strategy to reach your audience directly and convince them to spend time exploring your products or services, and motivating them to return, your company will quickly become lost in the ether.
Here are some points to consider before launching an online business.
Business Presentations for Investors
If you have a particularly viable business offering and you are 100% committed to launching it legitimately, you will need investors to help fund the planning and growth of your company. One catastrophic mistake that new business owners make is failing to plan for success. Many young businesses have been victims of their own early success, finding themselves unable to meet demand. But most often, online companies never get off the ground due to poor planning and lack of adequate funding. To effectively pitch your business to potential investors and convince them that they need to be a part of your venture, it's essential that you prepare a professional, visually engaging presentation. Then carry through the impact with creative business folders to serve as a take-away from the meeting. Showcasing your presentation in a unique way will help you make a great first impression and demonstrate how quality and detail are important to your company.
While it may seem that digital marketing materials would replace the printed presentation today, you would be taking a huge risk in relying on electronic communication alone. If you are 'cold calling' potential investors via email, remember that emailed PDFs may not ever be opened, or even received if they go straight to the spam folder. And there's no wow factor in an attachment. Beyond that, emails get lost in the sea of incoming mail and your otherwise brilliant pitch could soon be buried and forgotten if that's all you've got. Put a tangible piece of your business in the hands of those who can help you.
Find the Right Online Platform
There is a sea of e-commerce options available to us that are cost-effective, easy to set up and maintain, and look great. But sometimes being spoilt for choice can make decisions tougher, and without the benefit of experience, we can't know exactly what we'll need. To avoid online platforms that may create issues for you down the road, look for the following features to narrow down your short list:
- Are you obligated to commit to a lengthy subscription contract? Seek out platforms that offer flexibility and don't lock you in for too long so you can switch with ease if you need to. There's always a bigger and better option around the corner and you don't want to be stuck with a site that doesn't offer tools to stay competitive.
- If you decide to leave the platform for another one, is it easy to export your content? Keep in mind that a lot of the newer website-building platforms are a dead-end, meaning that they don't offer any tools to export your content and they will not tell you this upfront; most only find this out when the need arises. This can be devastating especially if you have an extensive blog on your site - you will have to start over if you want to move. Don't get stuck with a platform that holds your precious content hostage.
Always practise due diligence and read reviews before spending time building a website on any of the shiny, attractive platforms. Only commit once you know exactly what you are getting into, and always be prepared for the next steps.
Carefully Choose Your Business Name and Domain
It's a no-brainer that coming up with a clever, memorable name for your business can give you a distinct advantage in the market. But if you pick a name impulsively and haven't properly rationalised your decision, you'll probably realise you made a mistake and by then it may be too expensive and damaging to start over. Your name will also become your website domain, and trying to change it later on is particularly complex if you want to retain the domain authority, SEO and page rankings you've built up. Of course, you don't want to lose any of that. Also, be prepared to find that your brilliant company name has already been taken online; it's rare that we're the first to think of it. You may have lost out on the dot.com or dot.co.uk, but there may be other options available to you such as dot.uk, etc. Do your research into the options - there are repercussions for each that may greatly impact how easily - or not - your website will show up in a search engine.
Don't go at it Alone
The ease of creating websites and web shops these days makes it seem so tempting to jump online with your business idea and get started selling - especially for crafters, etc - before you've thought everything through. But if you are serious about your business and have dreams of being a success, you simply can't do it by yourself. Too many aspiring entrepreneurs try to save money by doing everything themselves, but this will only get you so far. Hiring marketing expertise is essential if this is not your forte, and the same goes for web design, which can be extremely time consuming even when you know what you're doing. Building your business is a job that never ends, and you can only do so much, well, at any one time. If you get buried in the day-to-day aspects of running your business, it's very difficult to plan ahead and grow your company.
Do your research, be realistic, and consult experts for your best chances of business success!