With the advent of the internet, it became increasingly easy to start a business online. Technology has been leveling the playing field, in that it allows aspiring entrepreneurs to start businesses without large budgets or large corporations behind them. Virtually anyone with a computer can start a business online with just a computer, and without even having any expertise when it comes to programming or building websites. Moreover, no marketing or business experience is necessary either.
Benefits and responsibilities of online businesses
Doing business online can offer many benefits, but you also need to be aware of the responsibilities that you have in order to make sure that everything is running smoothly. One glance at Shopify or Big Commerce pricing could give you an idea of the budget you need. Both options are hosted SaaS providers, with Shopify offering better advantages and being the better option when it comes to more complex operations. Online business has the potential to widen its market as well as its export capabilities. Compared to traditional retail, you will not be tied to a local customer base. If you find that there is a strong demand for the product or service that you are offering on the other side of the globe you will be able to respond accordingly.
Another advantage is the reduced overhead, given that selling online does not require you to work with a staff (especially if you’re a small business), or invest in a storage area, or in retail premises. The money that you save can also be redirected towards better marketing, site upgrades, broadening the selection of products you offer, etc.
There are however certain responsibilities that an online business brings with it. First of all, if you are not familiar with website-building whatsoever but you want an up-scale website you will need to hire someone for the job. You will also need to handle hosting costs, and if you expect large sales the price for hosting will be higher. Money will also be necessary when ti comes to advertising. Depending on how complex your marketing plan is, you will need a generous budget – and this is especially true if you’re competing with other businesses for the same niche.
You will also need to be aware of security issues. If you do not invest in proper security systems in order to protect your website this can come back to haunt you in the end, due to the fact that it can damage the reputation of your business and can result in monetary loses.
A sure-fire formula?
Despite its many benefits and the level of ease with which one can start an online business, there are certain steps that need to be followed and certain aspects that aspiring entrepreneurs need to be aware of. For example:
- While having experience or deep knowledge when it comes to marketing is not a requirement, it does not mean that it won’t help you when it comes to getting a head start
- Setting up a website for your business is a very easy task these days, but if you want something more sophisticated you will need to learn to work with the platform or you will need some budget to hire someone to do it for you.
- You will still need to figure out a way to promote your business (whether it’s SEO, ads, etc.) in order to find your customer base
There are no guarantees when it comes to business and what might work for some companies might not work for yours. There are however certain steps that one can be aware of in order to have a foundation. For example, if you want to start a business but you’re unsure about what to do, you can take a look at the market. Researching the market before you have a product can be helpful, due to the fact that it allows you to figure out what people are looking for. Proper research will help you understand what people are asking for and you can then create a product design to fill that void.
Another thing to be aware of is keeping your website simple, as having a user-friendly website is a crucial step. You don’t have a lot of time to grab the attention of a potential customer, and a website that is too difficult to figure out at first glance can end up losing you customers. Navigation needs to be simple, and the buying and checkout process needs to be quick and smooth.
Marketing is also crucial. Regardless of how high-quality the products and services you’re offering might be, you won’t have customers if they don’t know about you. So while you can easily start a business without marketing knowledge, you will have to figure out a way to let people know that your business exists. The good news is that promoting something is not rocket science, and there are a lot of things you can do to make your presence known – whether it’s using Google AdWords, Facebook ads, classic SEO, email promotion, etc.