Many small businesses begin offline. After a while though, you might feel you’ve hit the peak of what you can achieve as an offline business. Getting online can expand your customer base, whether that’s by allowing more customers to find you, or opening you up to online selling.
Take a hard look at your current business. What areas work best? Do you have a bestselling product or a service that’s in high demand? You could start your online business with a focus on these bestsellers or popular services, instead of trying to list everything you do or create all at once. You can expand the online offering as you go and get used to running part of the business via the Internet.
Who will your customers be? Are you going to be reaching the same people or are you looking for a wider target audience? This could be expanding your services to a wider geographical area, or attracting a slightly different kind of customer for your products.
Get Your Website Ready
If you’re not much for web design, it’s wise to bring in a professional to get your website set up. There’s also the option of using a good template.
For the launch, you’ll need the website basics spot on. Choose a simple, easy to spell URL. If you’ll be selling directly through the site, make sure your sales system is set up properly and has been thoroughly tested. Make sure you can accept credit cards online simply. Is your site built to properly manage stock levels and handle products selling out?
If you offer a service, create quality content to explain what you do and why you’re the best at it. You could bring in a freelance content creator or copywriter to help you make pages that really show off how great your business is.
Make sure you haven’t missed the obvious things, like opening hours, areas you serve and how to contact you. Is your company name or logo clearly visible?
Check the design. Is the text easy to read? Is the site nice to use on desktop, mobile or tablet? Do all the links work? Test and check everything several times before you go live.
Promote Your Site
Build it and they will come, right? Wrong. You need to spread the word about your site when you’re ready to launch.
Do you have regular offline customers? Let them know you’ve got a new website coming, and offer them discounts or deals for new customers that they refer to you through the site. Get set up on social media and promote your business with images, testimonials and fun posts on social channels.
You could set up an email newsletter to further promote your services, or work with bloggers in your niche to create interesting guest content either on their sites or yours. Make sure you’ve optimised your site for the search engines too with some top-notch SEO.