One of the most popular advises of the last decade is that everyone should start a business. This has resulted in countless people starting online business. Unfortunately, starting online business is no guarantee of success.
You may have started an online business or you dream of starting one someday. The sad truth about starting online business is that the failure stories overshadow the success stories.
Statistics show that most startups fail within the first 5 years in business. Records show that there is a higher chance of failures than success.
While I don’t like to focus on the negatives, let’s focus on the positive for you to win.
In this post, you will learn 7 key steps you need to take to ensure the success of your online business. Regardless whether you are just starting out or you are already in business; this audit is a life saver. While these do not guaranty your success, they go a long way to safeguard you from failure.
Firstly, when starting online business, it is important that you identify needs. Every successful business provides solutions to needs. While it’s great to build a website and great products, identify specific needs that you will be meeting.
[bctt tweet=”Every successful business provides solutions to needs. While it’s great to build a website and great products, identify specific needs that you will be meeting.” username=”Ola_osofowora”]
Most relevant, beyond identifying needs do the following when starting online business:
1.0 HAVE A PLAN
Research shows that most people don’t create a comprehensive plan when starting online business. You are better coordinated and focused when you have a plan in place. You don’t have to hire a professional to write your plan. Regardless, you still need a plan that covers the basics.
When starting online business, it is most relevant that you plan for the following;
• business operation
• marketing and sales
• customer relations
• revenue generation
• business strategy
Starting online business on a scatter-gun approach is one of the reasons businesses fail. There’s no direction without a plan. In addition, business instability requires that you have your plan in check to combat situations.
[bctt tweet=”Starting online #business on a scatter-gun approach is one of the reasons businesses fail. There’s no direction without a plan. In addition, business instability requires that you have your plan in check to combat situations. ” username=”Ola_osofowora”]
A plan gives you a sense of direction, definiteness of purpose and focus. With a comprehensive plan, you are sure of preparing for challenges ahead of time.
Either you have been in business or just starting out, having a business plan is not negotiable. Even though your plan may not be excessively formal, it is important you have one.
Your critical success factors are those factors that determine your success or failure. They are objectives that define your essence. Are you achieving the objective for which you set up your business? Are you on course to achieve corporate objectives? Most relevant, being intentional on these factors helps you achieve your objectives.
Key performance indicators are the metrics you use in measuring your critical success factors. If you set out to make a profit in business, what’s your monthly revenue? What’s your revenue target for the month? Key performance indicators help you measure your business.
Without measurement, you don’t have the record to exercise control where necessary. Hence, when starting online business, write your plans and objectives.
2.0 TEST YOUR MARKET
Another mistake people make when starting online business is the failure to test the marketability of the identified needs. Entrepreneurs run along to create a business without testing the profitability of the market.
Most noteworthy, running with an unprofitable business idea is one of the reasons people fail.
Every idea is great but not every idea or need is marketable and profitable.
[bctt tweet=”Most noteworthy, running with an unprofitable #business idea is one of the reasons people fail. Every idea is great but not every idea or need is marketable and #profitable. ” username=”Ola_osofowora”]
When you have identified specific needs that you want to meet, go a step further to do the following:
• Search for specific keywords that define your idea to check its demand on the search engine. Most noteworthy, check out its popularity and how in-demand it is. Using tool ad word tools for this purpose gives you the search quantity and metrics you need to know about it.
By checking the pay per click ads fee for each keyword, you have an idea of how profitable the idea is. If businesses are ready to pay hugely for the keywords, it means you have a thriving market.
• Find people who are already executing that idea; I know that your idea of a perfect business idea is a virgin idea. This explains why many businesses fail. The last thing you want to see right now is someone executing your idea, right? A business without competitors will most likely fail. That a business idea is virgin either means people fail at it or it’s not profitable altogether.
[bctt tweet=”A #business without competitors will most likely fail. That a business idea is virgin either means people fail at it or it’s not profitable altogether.” username=”Ola_osofowora”]
Find successful businesses related to the needs you identified!
• Search forums and popular stores for related products or service portal: finding existing businesses and products means people are willing to pay for that need. Of what use is a great idea if no one is willing to pay for it?
Before you invest heavily in your idea when starting online business, ensure that there’s a thriving market for it.
Search for people’s reviews and opinions about the existing brand. Uncover their flaws and capitalize on your discovery to offer something better.
3.0 START WITH A NEED, NOT PRODUCT WHEN STARTING ONLINE BUSINESS
I understand the temptation to find the magic wand product or service. The temptation to put the cart before the horse can be overwhelming.
Focusing on the product instead of people and their needs is like setting yourself up for failure. Maybe the reason why many businesses fail is that they follow a similar path.
Focusing on the product or services increases your chances of marketing to the wrong audience. When you understand people and their needs, you are better positioned to provide something that meets the needs. Unlike marketing cough syrup to someone with a stomach ache.
People buy products and services to meet a particular need. People buy results and if you don’t know their pains, you can’t help them.
In this age, product centricity (link) is failing. Successful businesses are following the content Inc model.
Remember that good marketing only makes a bad product fail faster. You’ve got to know your audience and their pain point to provide the best product for them.
4.0 DON’T SPREAD YOURSELF THIN
When starting online business, there’s the temptation to be everywhere. You want to be the talked about brand on Facebook, You don’t want to miss out on twitter. Instagram looks so glamorous. Pinterest has a lot of people. Snapchat has beautiful filters. Medium and LinkedIn are for professionals.
I know the drill, I get the argument. You think being everywhere will bring in customers. You think you will reach more audience that way.
Most relevant, you will only burn out fast. In addition, you can’t maintain all of these platforms and be relevant. Hence, your efforts are wasted.
You have to understand that social media is to build a relationship with customers through effective content marketing. Your mission is to focus your energy on platforms that boast of your target audience.
[bctt tweet=”You have to understand that #socialmedia is to build a relationship with customers through effective #contentmarketing. Your mission is to focus your energy on platforms that boast of your target audience. ” username=”Ola_osofowora”]
Being everywhere won’t cut it because you possibly can’t create distinct content for every platform every time. More so, you can’t hold meaningful engagement being everywhere. Responding to every tweet and mentions becomes a herculean task.
Starting online business does not warrant you be everywhere. You just have to be on the right platform and dominate.
With the April 2018 social media population metrics, understanding your audience demography helps you choose the right platform.
A wrong customer’s demography will most likely lead you to choose the wrong social media channel.
The best thing to do is to choose one or two platforms where your audiences are camping. Getting into the discussion and offering value promotes your brand. Create a social media marketing plan that helps you achieve your objectives.
Always remember that the best place to fish is a river with lots of fishes.
5.0 SET UP CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Customer relationship management is a system that monitors brand’s interaction with clients and prospective customers. As a startup, how do you manage the narratives and discussions around your brand?
When starting online business, it is important that you set up a system that monitors your brand and what people are saying about it.
In our digital world, it is super easy to discredit brands and soil the brand’s reputation. A single tweet can cause a chain of complaint. When complaints are not controlled appropriately, brands are extremely damaged.
When starting online business, your mission is to create the right brand narratives. In addition, you should be on alert to curb every negative narrative around your brand.
One way to do this is to use Google alert to monitor your brand name. Such that you are notified every time your brand is mentioned anywhere.
Using this service helps you stay on top of things in our fast-paced world.
In addition, you may also use Twitter to monitor your brand name as well through the search option. Twitter happens to be the platform where people rant a lot. So get yourself active there.
Customer relationship management isn’t just about damage control. But creating the right narratives that help you grow your know, like and trust factor.
When starting online business, ensure you create an effective system that aids your inbound marketing (link). As a startup, ensure that you follow the best social media marketing practice (link).
6.0 FOCUS ON PROFITABILITY NOT AWARENESS
It’s a common practice to start up a firm and start making all the noise for the negative reasons. Entrepreneurs these days are losing focus and focusing on the wrong metrics.
Profitability is the priority of every business but it’s is more of popularity these days. Businesses are growing popular and running out of resources to manage the business. This was the dilemma that led to the acquisition of Jumia.
Awareness is great; in fact, you should have a budget for awareness campaigns. Most relevant, it is totally suicidal to lose focus on your business profitability.
We live in a time when everything is judged with the wrong metrics. That you are recognized by one organization is not a success. That you got an award for excellence while your business is suffering is not a success.
When starting online business, you have to be real with yourself. Choose the right metrics to measure your performance and keep you in check.
The sole essence of business is to increase shareholder’s wealth not just wasting resources. In addition, you’ve got to get value for money on your activities. Your activities must have a positive effect on your financial record.
Also, businesses look to competitors as a yardstick to judge their performance. While this is not totally wrong, it is most relevant that you benchmark appropriately. Focus on the right metrics or you will be out of business in no distant time.
7.0 START SMALL AND GROW BIG
It is everyone’s dream to have a big corporation that is the talk of the town. It is your dream to own the best business around. While all these aspirations are valid, it is important that you start small and grow big.
Giant corporations of today started very small years ago. Growth brought them this far.
It is easy to get tempted to hire everyone when starting online business. Even though you are running an online business, you want to have the best office.
You take loans and borrow everywhere to hire personnel, furniture and gadgets. You want to look big! Your focus when starting online business is not to look big but to be big in reality.
Imagine climbing a ladder from the top. You can and will only go down. Start small and grow big.
Don’t incur unnecessary expenses that will only worsen your finances. When starting online business, do not impress anyone. Just focus on creating value for your customers.
Do these steps apply to just online business? No! You should carry out these steps with every business.
Starting online business takes a lot of grit and gut. You have to do things right for you to succeed.
In this post, we looked at 7 things you must do to have a successful online business that you can scale and grow. If you do the right things, you will enjoy tremendous success.
What other things do you do when starting online business? Have you joined our mailing list? Do so now!