Internet businesses are exciting and rewarding. What are their benefits over a street based business and how do you start one?
- The costs and therefore the risks are so much lower.
- There is no investment like buying or leasing a high street shop. The equivalent in an online business can be around only two dollars a week for a domain name and web hosting.
- Startup costs are low. You can create a website free using WordPress and its ecommerce plugins. Or you can pay someone to create one. It`s still cheaper than opening a shop on the street.
- The whole world is the market for a dot com business. For a shop on the street the market is only within the travel distance from the shop.
So how do you start?
- Find products or services that you could be passionate about marketing.
- Choose consumable products that produce frequent repeat orders.
- Become an expert in your products. Learn everything there is to know about them, or ensure access to support from suppliers.
- Is there a ready market for that product? Do some research.
- Is there a ready supply at a price that you can resell at a reasonable profit?
- If the big chains are already selling it, can you deliver it cheaper?
- Register a domain name to include a key word relating to that product. Don`t let ego trap you into a domain name like billsmithenterprises.com. A domain name that relates to the products that you market will help your position in a search of Google for such products by prospective customers.
- If your domain name is easy to remember it will be easy for customers to refer other customers to it.
- Register a business name relating to your domain name. Get a PO Box number and a bank account for that business name.
- Arrange hosting of your domain name to include installation of WordPress with an ecommerce plugin. You can do this yourself or get help from a web designer. There are some 1600 free WordPress themes available and thousands of plugins.
- Learn about search engine optimization. Make a website that is easy to navigate and is Google friendly. After launching it get some other websites to link to yours.
- Start a home page with a lot of text including key search words.
- Enter your products, using as much description and information as you can. In Google the websites with more information get ranked higher than those with less. Pictures are worth a thousand words to the prospective customer, but Google ignores pictures and indexes your words.
- Decide on delivery charges and payment optons.
- Publish guidance on the use of your products.
- Publish the name of your business along with the PO Box number, town and state address plus a telephone contact. Prospective customers like an assurance that you are in the same country and that they can phone for more information and support. We have seen online businesses fail when they tried to be anonymou.
Operating your business
- Be prepared to work very hard to get started. The first two years are critical as in that period most business failures occur. We worked hard for two years to gain customers. Now a few years later we work hard to keep up with the orders and with servicing hundreds of customers in every state.
- In your contact with prospective and existing customers make them feel that they are experiencing personal attention rather than automation. Be on first name terms. They will want to continue dealing with your business.
- Be systematic on processing orders and shipping them promptly.
- Be systematic in recording your accounts. Your bank statement and your PayPal history can be downloaded and used for preparing your annual tax accounts. Your ecommerce website should provide sales history.
A dot com business has no limits to the size of its market. Choose the products carefully and become an expert in them. Enjoy the freedom of running your own business.
These articles were first published on www.platywebs.com.au and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names.