How dreamers can finally start their own small business

It’s Kim Little Newfold DigitalSenior Vice President, Commercial Lead and Product Management.

It’s never been easier to start a small business than in the age of e-commerce, but the endless expanse of the Internet can be daunting for those who may not know where or how to start. However, aspiring entrepreneurs need not worry about this apparent barrier to entry. The endless reach of the Internet points to the limitless opportunities that “dreamers” can capture by selling online.

The tools to build an effective online presence are more accessible than ever, and this simple fact should encourage many who have considered starting a business in the past to finally take the first step. Even for those who are not digitally savvy, there are services that will professionally design a site to your specifications at a reasonable price and with a quick turnaround time.

For those ready to turn their “million dollar idea” into more than just a wish, here are some tips on how to get started.

1. Cast a wide net between markets, but make an effort to own your sales channels.

With limitless competition in the digital world, small businesses just starting out need to be humble to get noticed. This means doing everything possible to have their products appear in major markets as well as in their own stores, meeting customers where they are.

Social platforms and marketplaces, such as Facebook, Etsy, and Amazon, also have value for new businesses, serving as useful tools for expanding brand reach, maintaining searchability, and building trust with an already established customer base. Web presence providers know this and make integration easy by offering authoring packages that partner with these marketplaces, making getting and selling online a snap.

Business owners should view marketplaces as extensions of their sales operations, but it’s important not to over-index. Platforms like these make money from fees and eat into sellers’ profits, so a sensible course of action is to build trust and then drive customers back to your company’s website. Building brand recognition is often the hardest part of starting your business. Third-party marketplaces can be a great place to help get early visibility, but ideally you won’t rely too heavily on sales through these channels.

The ultimate goal of a business should be to bring in as much revenue as possible, and using your own website as your top selling channel is a great way to avoid giving up some of your hard-earned sales.

2. Do your research and invest in your online presence.

There are many nuances involved in the process of creating a viable website, with design, security and search performance all playing a crucial role in driving traffic and conversions. It’s important to look for things like SSL certificates, SEO capabilities, and professional design templates.

When you want to start an e-commerce business, it is important to know what features you may need from a web host. This is something that will vary greatly between different types of business, so it’s vital that you don’t rush into the first option without careful consideration.

Things like SEO require an upfront investment of time, but are well worth the returns they provide. By making sure you are optimized for organic search, you can attract not only an increase in traffic, but also an increase in the right types of traffic for your chosen keywords. If this seems daunting, you can always turn to professionals who can help you with SEO marketing management.

3. Develop an effective marketing strategy that drives performance.

Bigger isn’t always better in business, and while big businesses profit from volume, small businesses thrive on efficiency. Pricing products appropriately, aggressively serving the most appropriate target market, and working to sell as effectively as possible will lay a solid foundation for your online sale.

Effective marketing strategies are a major driver of effective sales and profitable business growth, so it’s critical to identify the right audience and have your digital strategy cascade from there. This can be achieved by adopting the right SEO strategy and optimizing your site for search as it relates to your desired keywords. Many site builders include SEO plugins to make the process easier. It is also affordable for businesses with limited budgets as it is completely organic and requires no capital investment.

Efficiency indicates scalability. If a small business has solid sales at the grassroots level, this is an indicator of exciting growth potential.

Making the leap and bridging the digital divide

New small businesses need to look holistically at their web presence to find early success in e-commerce startups, and a good marketing strategy is the foundation of effective sales. Consider a physical store. The shelves may be stocked and ready, but sales won’t happen if the lights are off and the doors are locked. Effective marketing is essentially announcing to the world that you are open for business and inviting people.

Attracting customers to a site is a brand building exercise. New entrepreneurs would be wise to explore various avenues to raise their brand profile while maintaining their own channels as a reliable sales outlet.

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