June 7, 2011

7 Things You Must Know About Starting and Operating an Online Business

Starting a business isn't as easy as it seems. Having an idea is not enough to have a lucrative business. One might think that an online business does not have similar risks and challenges as those businesses that aren't being run solely using the internet. You might be seduced into thinking that having a fancy website and getting revenue for a couple of ads would make you the next multimillionaire wherever part of the world you are. Think again! Even on the information superhighway, you need to be careful and basically have the same diligence and patience required in running ANY business.

  1. Preparation and research are key components to starting any venture. You need to know your target market, be aware of your competition and what they have to offer and know which funding method would be suitable to your business needs.
  2. Find a niche for your idea. If your idea is so revolutionary that no one has ever yet thought of it or haven't executed it yet, all the better. But if your idea already has a market leader, it would be tougher to break into the market. Note that I didn't say it can't be done because it could. You would just need to have an edge. Think about what you can offer that's not being offered by others in the business. Sweeten the pot a bit.
  3. Building a website isn't as easy as it looks. The better it is, the higher the price for it. If you think that building your own website would set you back financially, try searching for web designers online.
  4. Update your site content constantly. You might be an overnight sensation when you hang with your friends but this isn't true in business. Long-term success means long hours of work put in. It's all about innovation, trying to be better than you were when you started and the best way to let your customers know that your company is dynamic and evolving is through the rich myriad of new things you have to offer. Whether it is new products, new services or just plain and simple new advice.
  5. Do not let your customers have a hard time in trying to contact you or your business. Your website should always have a "contact us" link and whenever there are queries or complaints, you should try to address it the ssoonest time you could. Not having time to respond to customers is a big no-no and worse, having no link to where the customers might find you (your contact details at least) may make your potential customers think that your business is shady.
  6. It is never shameful to start small and build your reputation from there. You need to be optimistic, passionate about your business and determined to make it work. However, you also have to be realistic. A return of investment isn't always guaranteed at the time you want it to. You should be patient enough to withstand a long haul.
  7. Not all people have the luxury of time. There are over a million websites to choose from and not a lot of people have a lot of patience to sift through every single one of them. Odds are, they'll click on the first relevant site they find. If people happen to stumble upon your website, you have to keep them coming back for more. Remember that customer loyalty is vital to your online business.
If you have any thoughts or addendum to this, feel free to share it in the comments.

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