Starting an Online Small Business from Scratch: What you need to do!

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So, you want to sell your products or services online and you want to know how to… Well, you have come to the right place! Did you know 69% of Australians (according to a Productivity Commission Report, July 2011) are now shopping online? This is a huge market you can target, so what you’re doing is a smart idea, but you need to make sure you start up your online small business correctly from the get-go. There is the nitty-gritty stuff you need to firstly do but then there are four main areas I want to take you through that will help your start up online small business sell, sell and sell!

The Nitty-Gritty

Practically, this is the boring stuff of setting up your business… You need to work out:

  • What you are selling?
  • Who are you selling too?
  • Is there a gap in the market you are entering?
  • Is your idea viable… as in, will it actually meet the audience’s needs
  • Do you have the skills and expertise to sell this?
  • Have you registered a business name?
  • Do you have all the equipment you need?
  • Have you written a business plan?
  • Have you investigated all legal considerations for doing business?
  • Have you got business insurance?
  • Have you considered the tax options and obligations?
  • Have you registered for GST?

If you require more information you should visit the Australian Government website for small business >>

If you haven’t done the above already, get to it now as it is essential before ANYTHING else! If you have completed the nitty-gritty work on starting up your online small business, then let’s discuss the four main areas to focus on!

 

 

The Nature of a Successful Online Small Business

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This diagram graphically explains the process you should go through when starting your small online business. Ideally the diagram states that the number one priority is your target audience and that everything else revolves around them.

Next your website, which is your eCommerce site, should be used to sell products to your target audience. Between building the eCommerce site and Marketing, you need to first create the campaigns that you will Market. These Marketing Campaigns are then used to influence the target audience to buy the products. To ensure your marketing campaigns are working you need to test and measure them, which then leads onto the nurturing of the target audience and customers.

If you notice that the arrow from Target Audience is pointing towards Nurture, this is because the customer’s feedback is essential to how you should nurture their wants and needs. With that information you finally need to refine and re-implement everything from the start, this ensures your target audience is always captured successfully through your website and marketing activities in order to buy your products.

1. Target Audience

This really is the most important area of your business, as these are the consumers that will buy your product! If they don’t buy it, then no one will… therefore knowing their wants and needs will allow you to suss-out how to market!

You need to work out who your target audience actually is… as in, how old are they? Where are they from? What gender are they? What do they do? What do they have interest in? How many are there? Then you need to know WHY they would want to buy your product, for example they may want to buy it due to the nutritional value or because the price point is better than competitors.

Speaking of competitors… you also need to know who they are! Make sure you know where your competitors are located and what they are selling, and then tell your target audience why you are different to your competitors – this may be through your Unique Selling Proposition or a Point of Difference you state. A comparison table may be a good way to graphically demonstrate to your customers what you offer that your competitors don’t.

All this information about your target audience will enable you to make the best decisions towards setting up your website and marketing your products.

2. Website

Clearly, if you want to sell online you need a website! Not just any website however, you need an eCommerce website – where people can purchase and pay for products online. Therefore, key items for your website are a secure shopping cart and a single checkout page to simplify the buying process.

You need to make sure the buying process is a pleasurable experience for the customer, you can do this by making your website really easy to browse by organising and categorising products, and by providing detailed and compelling product descriptions to ensure you provide the customer with all the information they need so they don’t need to look elsewhere.

It’s a fact that if something looks nice you will be attracted to it more than something that doesn’t look nice, so make sure your product photos are high quality and they highlight the product in a good way to entice the customer to buy it.

Another thing to consider when starting up your online small business is to provide all the terms and conditions, online store policies, and return policies available for customers to read. Also provide easy to find contact details for you and your store so customers can easily contact you if they have any questions or concerns.

So, now you have your website so you can start selling to your target audience… but how do we get the target audience to know are selling stuff? The answer is… Let’s Market!

3. Marketing

It’s now time to let your target audience know you are here and they should buy your products! There is so much you can do to market your eCommerce website and new products to customers, but it really depends on your budget. There are many free tools you can utilise to market your website, these include Facebook pages, Tweeting on Twitter, Utilising SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), LinkedIn profile and a company blog.

If you do have a budget you can utilise marketing tools such as Email Marketing Campaigns, Direct Mail Campaigns, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, Google advertising and advertising on other relevant sites. The more your website address and company name is ‘out there’ the more people will know about you! You should also advertise product promotions as this not only targets in on certain products but it also provides an incentive for people to buy it.

You should implement Google Analytics on your website also, as this will help track who is visiting your website and where they are from. It will allow you to see if your marketing is specifically targeting your intended audience or if your intended audience is who you thought they were!

Google Analytics allows you to assess if your campaigns are working, you should however also keep track of customer feedback as this will help you with the next stage of starting up your online small business… nurturing your customers.

4. Nurture

Take note: Nurturing your customers is a major part of your business! Without your customers you would have no business. Therefore, you need to put in place strategies on how you will nurture them to encourage them to be a loyal customer.

Make sure you have a list of all your customers either in an excel spreadsheet or in a CRM. Nurturing your customers is all about customer service and it helps you find out what you are doing right or what you are doing wrong so you can fix your procedures!

You can make the nurturing process as personal as you like, for example sending cards or gift certificates for a customer’s birthday. A great nurturing tactic is to implement a weekly email newsletter that updates customers on industry trends and provides special product offers or so on. Producing eBooks for your customers to download also gives them a sense of ‘free information’ and also gives you higher credibility.

Did you know Word of Mouth is the most influential market tool? Therefore, if you nurture your customers and make them happy then they will rave about you to everyone they know, which in turn will create more sales for you.

So, there you have it… take into consideration those four main areas when starting up your online small business and you will not only see sales roll in but you will also have a very satisfied customer base.

Starting an Online Small Business doesn’t have to be hard! Web123 can help you Target your Audience, create an eCommerce Website, Market to your Customers and Nurture your database. So, call us today and we can help you start up your Online Small Business. Find out more >>

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