Starting a new online business can be a rewarding experience with lots of challenges and obstacles along the way. However, whilst these problems may cause you to pull your hair out at the time, they do a lot to give you experience and as the old saying goes, you learn from your mistakes. In this article we’ll explore some of the things you can do to make your online business a success without experiencing too much heartache or stress.
It’s easy to get carried away when spending money on your new venture. First there’s the website (essential) and the SEO marketing (very essential) to consider and then there’s the small matter of business insurance to consider too. Start-up costs vary from business to business. Whilst some companies function perfectly well from home, there are others where a business premises is absolutely essential. You should never let yourself get carried away with your spending. Have a clear budget in mind from the start and stick to it. If it means delaying your business launch for a couple of months, so be it. Don’t make the mistake of getting into thousands of pounds of debt before you even start.
2. Start Out Small
Even the largest corporates started out small. The smaller you start the more time you will have to focus on bigger ideas.
3. Protect your Assets and Your Customers
Another essential consideration for many businesses is the responsibility they have to protect their assets and the safety of their customers. Before you start trading you will need to ensure you have the right public liability insurance in place together with policies that suit your mode of business. Public liability insurance also gives your customers peace of mind that they are covered in the event of a problem. If you later employ staff you will also need to think about employer’s liability insurance.
4. Don’t Forget Your Business Plan
Even if you don’t need to approach anybody for money at this stage, a business plan will help you to ascertain and realise your business goals and to plan ahead for the future. Include projections for the first year, your cash flow and your expenses.
5. How Are You Going to Make Money?
This might seem like a silly and simple question, but many businesses have started without really having an idea on how to approach customers or make any money. With an online business you need to work extra hard because you are competing against many other companies in one huge marketplace. Make sure you build a good website and ensure that you market that website as thoroughly as possible in order to reach your target audience.
6. Gain the Competitive Edge
Find out what makes your competitors tick and then beat them at their own game. Be creative and be innovative in your approach. Do something they haven’t thought of.
7. Keep Documentation Secure
In online business, many transactions are carried out online. Make sure you document all contracts either online or in hard copy format and keep everything safe and secure. Archive emails and ensure you have them to hand at all times.
8. Do You Need Staff?
Before you start trading, determine whether you need staff. This might actually be something that becomes apparent when you start trading and if you find you need a hand, make sure you use a formal hiring process. Hiring friends and family can work sometimes, but can also pose new challenges and hurt relationships.
9. Pay Your Bills
It’s highly important that you pay your business expenses and taxes on time and in full. By doing so you will always protect your business from legal complications arising from unpaid bills, compulsory and otherwise.
10. Be Proactive with Online Marketing
This might seem obvious, but if you really want to stay one step ahead of your competitors online you do need to keep on your toes. Do what they are not doing – use social media marketing, use PPC advertising and create some really impressive blog content that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Claire White is an employee of ConstructaQuote, one of the UK’s leading insurance comparison sites, working with some of the UK’s leading insurers to find businesses and private customers alike great prices on a wide range of insurance products.