5 Steps to Starting an Online Business from an Offline Business
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In the hustle and bustle of business nowadays, business owners are increasingly embracing the online world as the new business platform. Although offline businesses still have their place and importance, making a move from your traditional storefront business to an online one can be quite rewarding when done right, which is proven by a lot of businesses during the lockdown. Only question is, how do you successfully start an online business? While the fundamentals of setting up shop online aren’t too complicated, here are a couple steps worth following for smoothly transitioning to the online business world.
Online businesses VS offline businesses
Although traditional offline businesses do get to enjoy the benefits of a brick-and-mortar store (being able to view products in person, immediate purchase, easier returns, etc.), online businesses have the advantage of being able to serve a lot more customers anywhere without being limited to one physical location. While there is no strictly better business type, starting an online business does offer you greater flexibility, lower downtime, and lesser operating costs – all good traits that help you in serving your customers better.
As an online business runs differently compared to an offline one, these 5 steps below are the first you should take:
Step 1: Have a website or landing page
Behind every online business, an online presence is what leads customers to buying their products and services in the first place. As such, building a website or landing page is an important first step to letting your customers find you online.
When building your business’s page, there are several steps that you can follow for a more effective website. In practice, your website’s design can range from simple minimalistic designs to more creative and unique ones depending on your business needs. Regardless of how you choose to build it, it is super important for your website to be able to get your customers’ attention – most people on the Internet have a short attention span, and it takes no more than a few seconds for a customer to grow uninterested in a boring website. With the number of online businesses out there, you have to stand out to be successful.
For this reason, look for a layout that conveys your message or selling point clearly. Design-wise, this means you should stick to using only one or two fonts with the appropriate colours and backgrounds for a cleaner website interface. This applies to any additional functionalities you plan to add too; videos, audio clips and any interactive features should all help deliver your message and not distract from it. When done right, your website will have a clear core message while still being well-designed and easy to navigate.
But since creating your own website can be complicated, it does not hurt to have someone else do it for you instead. Together with the right server host, ecommerce, and SEO, a good website will have online customers flocking to your business in no time.
Step 2: Get your own digital business card
Since meeting face-to-face isn’t feasible or encouraged in times of pandemic, you will need some way of promoting your online business without relying on handing out little paper cards. This is where digital business cards come in handy as they can make awesome promotional tools for your online business.
Contrary to popular belief, business cards can do more than just provide others with your contact details as you can customize them to market your business as well. With their compact nature, digital business cards can concisely present your brand and its message to better approach new customers. Together with their digital format for easy unlimited sharing, a well-made digital business card can greatly increase customer awareness of your business in the long run.
Similar to your website, your digital business card should look to set your business apart from your competitors. Fortunately, digital business cards have much more creative space for you to work with, allowing videos, audio files, social media buttons, and many more functions to be added. Not only does this give you more information to show, but you also get to add special touches to leave a good lasting impression on your customers.
If you really want to perfect your digital business card with little hassle, look for @card – which features more than 200 designs created by professional designers! After all, a digital business card does take a little more skill and effort to create compared to regular printed ones.
Step 3: Plan your social media presence
Nowadays, not having a social media presence essentially means turning dozens of customers away from your business. With the huge scale of the Internet, finding the right social media platform is key to reaching your customers and boosting your popularity and sales.
A lot of people log on to social media nowadays (and we mean a lot!), and this reason alone provides incredible business potential. Depending on the nature of your business, you can connect with your audiences through various platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The type of content matters here too – articles, images, videos, infographics, interactive elements, and polls can be adapted to creating your online business presence. But like everything else on the Internet, being original and unique is how you stay ahead of your competitors.
While setting up your social media presence isn’t too hard, there is some strategy involved for it to be effective. For starters, create a plan to gauge what are your goals and objectives; do you want to attract more customers or boost your brand awareness? Once a plan is laid out, you should also consider which platforms are the most suitable for your business; how well do they help achieve your goals? Researching your audience is also important as this lets you know how they spend their time online so you can plan your social media strategy more effectively.
As utilizing social media properly for business can be tricky, it might take some time before its potential starts to show. Even so, it’s a good learning process that every business owner should take when moving to the online world.
Step 4: Get active & manage your content
Once you have set up your business presence online, the next step is to keep it fresh and interesting for your audiences to enjoy. To do so, posting quality content on your online platforms is a great way to keeping customers interested in what you have to offer.
The premise is simple: good content gets a customer interested in your business, and they might even become a customer if engaged enough. From a business standpoint, having quality content on your website or social media page lets you build stronger relationships with your customers, improve brand recognition, and attract new potential customers – all of this means more revenue for your online business. Because quality content is so valuable, it makes sense for successful businesses to come up with engaging content that keeps audiences interested and staying for more.
While finding quality content for your websites and social media can be a little challenging, feel free to experiment with ideas as this is helpful for figuring out the types of content that resonate better with your audiences.
If you happen to run out of original ideas, blogs, industry news, informative or entertainment posts, memes, photos, and videos are some common types of content that many audiences will enjoy. Just give these content ideas your own personal twist and you’ll have your own original content right there.
Although you are running an online business, staying active and coming up with quality online content is a tried-and-true way of maintaining your engagement with your customers. With some creativity, this can be one of the most fun ways of growing your business online.
Step 5: Sell your products at an online marketplace
Now that you have almost everything set up for starting your online business, the last step is to plan how your products and services will be sold. For that, you will need a proper marketplace or ecommerce platform to get customers buying your goods.
When it comes to selling online, many buyers can be found on online marketplaces, especially popular and reputable ones like Shopee, Lazada, and Facebook. Since an online marketplace allows sellers and buyers to meet in a single online platform, this makes it a good choice for business owners that want to reach more customers with convenience. But if this isn’t feasible, starting your own ecommerce platform can be a good alternative by letting you conduct all your business on your own website. Either way, a proper platform for letting your customers make their purchases without hassle is quite important.
If you plan to sell on an online marketplace, most marketplaces will require you to register an account to start selling your products. During this time, do take the time to consider their terms and conditions along with any fees charged for selling on the platform. On the other hand, if you decide on going for the ecommerce route, you will need to outfit your business website with an ecommerce platform, payment service provider, internet merchant account, and a number of other technical requirements in order for it to handle transactions safely.
Whichever you choose, an online marketplace and a dedicated ecommerce platform both have their benefits. Even so, do try to make the right choice by selling based on your business, products, needs, and objectives.
To sum it up, these are just five essential steps for starting your online business from an offline business. While there are also many other things that go into conducting your business on the Internet, the most important elements all revolve around creating your own unique presence online among the competition. With the right preparations, your online business can be just as lucrative and successful as any other brand!