Being a success online: The business essentials

Getting a small business online can be very daunting. Where do you start? What needs to be done?121mcv offers up some vital expertise for confused business owners, whether they're unsure where to start or just looking to tidy up their efforts.

Is your small business on the web? A recent study from pbSmart Essentials suggests that it probably is. Rising numbers of small businesses are increasing their investment in online methods of marketing, and with good reason. The internet is an extraordinarily powerful tool when it comes to reaching consumers and getting them to interact with your business.

So what can small business owners do to ensure they're using the right approach for the internet? While it takes time to implement a full online strategy, the tips listed below should cover the basics.

1. Centralising your efforts

    • Your online activity needs a centralised hub. Set up a website that tells people about your business - what it does, where it is based, directions etc.

    • Invest plenty of time in designing your website. A balance between white space and good graphics should be struck to ensure good readability.

    • For social media, don't forget to set up a company account where possible. Keep it separate from your personal account to avoid any embarrassing crossover.

    • Ask someone to critique your website. It might be easy for you to navigate because you know where everything is. Asking someone to take a look can ensure the experience is the same for everyone.

2. Marketing your business

    • Search engine marketing (SEM) is your friend because everyone on the web uses a search engine. Employing Google Adwords, for example, is a great way of reaching millions of potential customers with adverts relevant to what they're searching for.

    • Invest time in search engine optimisation. Publishing content to your website pages can help to push your site higher in the search engine rankings. If you have a particular expertise or experience to talk about in relation to your industry, it may be worth getting a blog to do this on.

    • Read up on the latest SEO and SEM tactics. These change on a frequent basis as search engines often alter the requirements that they use to rank websites. Keeping on top of changes will keep you above your rivals in the listings.

    • Be creative in your marketing. Sometimes an amusing picture goes further than a dull advert ever could, especially on the internet.

    • Check your grammar and spelling. A poorly-typed post on Twitter can lose you customers.

    • Get a headshot on your website. This gives your customer reassurance that your business is run by a real person.

3. Employing e-commerce

    • Selling your product via your website is a great way of bringing your business to an international stage and increasing your domestic output.

    • Before setting up an online shop, make sure you're aware of the legal ramifications. Even if you're selling out of your front room, you're still liable to tax.

    • Security is essential if you're selling over the net. You're risking your business' reputation if you fail to put the proper procedures in place.

    • Trial your e-commerce system before setting it live. This helps to iron out any potential problems your customers would otherwise encounter that might put them off buying.

    • Remember to monitor the system for new orders. If you go on holiday, make sure you ask someone capable to do this for you. You don't want to come back to a mountain of angry emails from clients asking where their orders are!

source - businesszone