Starting your own online business is a massive endeavor, and in some ways, it’s like starting a brick-and-mortar business, but completely different in other ways. Newbies and experts alike can get tripped up by these differences, which can cause their business to crumble, so it’s important to know how venturing into online business entrepreneurship is done.
While it can be intimidating and overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. In the digital age, anyone has access to as much information as they need and the resources needed to fulfill the dream of being your own boss, working from anywhere, anytime.
Here are some tried-and-true tips for starting your own online business.
Find your niche
A lot of new entrepreneurs fall into the trap of making a product first and finding the market second when, in reality, it should be the other way around. You’re more likely to be successful if you start with your market, find a need or problem within that market, and then solve it with a product or service.
Thanks to the internet, this research can be done quite easily. Check out online forums to see what people are talking about, what questions they’re asking, and what problems they need solving. You can also do some basic keyword research to see what kinds of searches people are typing into Google, and which ones don’t have a lot of competition behind them; this shows you which markets aren’t saturated yet. Finally, you can spy on potential competitors by checking out their websites and seeing how they fill their own demand, then beating them at their own game.
Make sure you’re protecting customer data
Consumers are well aware of the risk of hacking and cyber theft, so if you want people to trust your business and voluntarily hand over their personal information to make a transaction, you need to prove that their data is safe with you.
Using firewalls, encryption, and cloud computing to keep customer data safe is crucial. You can test your system with penetration testing to see if and where your vulnerabilities lie. You can also use a pan scanner to identify any confidential customer information that is at risk for exposure. Whether you’ve accidentally stored it on the system, or are purposely storing it and not protecting it with encryption or any other security measure, a pan scanner will find it and report it back to you so you can make any necessary changes to your security systems.
Market your business properly
Following a sales funnel will help turn warm leads into conversions, but that isn’t the only marketing strategy you should be using. Having a social media and digital marketing strategy is critical since most consumers will do research online before even considering where to spend their money. You want to ensure your SEO is top-notch, your social media presence is consistent and engaging, and your website is professional and well-designed for proper user experience. If all of this is out of your wheelhouse, consider working with an agency or freelancer to get you started – trying to do it all yourself could be stretching yourself too thin, especially if you don’t have all the right knowledge and technical know-how.
Customer reviews are vital to the success of an online company. Without a physical location, it’s understandable for new visitors to be wary of a scam, so they turn to social proof for guidance. Encourage all your customers to leave a review so you can build up a reputation online, and be transparent with them as well. Address any poor reviews quickly and honestly to try and mitigate any backlash, and similarly, highlight any glowing reviews to let people know how satisfied your customers are with your service or product.