Don Dodds of Huffington Post recently posted 6 Reasons Why Your Online Business Might Be Struggling, and it offers great advice for online entrepreneurs.
We’ve incorporated some of Dodd’s advice into a few tips of our own that will help you build a successful online business.
- Choose A Catchy Business Name. A short name always packs a punch, as does a great acronym if your chosen business name is longer. Think about the products or services you’ll be offering and the community you’ll be serving. Write down any name that comes to mind. Once you have at least five possible names, walk away from your list for a while and return later to mull it over. The name you choose for your business may be a perfect fit, but there are legal details to work out. First, you’ll want to conduct a business name check to verify that someone else hasn’t already registered your name in your state.
- Get incorporated. Storefront or online, your business needs to be incorporated. It’s easy to incorporate online, and the benefits cannot be overstated. When you form an LLC, for example, you legally separate your business assets from your personal ones. It’s never a wise idea to start a new business without a safety net and operating a business without incorporating is exactly that.
- Target the right niche. Dodd recommends that before building your website, you need to answer these questions: Is there a demand for my idea? How much competition is there for my product or service? Who are my top competitors? Do I stand a realistic chance of outranking them (particularly in the organic search results)? Last, but not least: Where is the industry headed? Is my product or service gaining momentum or is it on a downward trend? The more specific your niche, the better chance you’ll have in search engine ranking and the less money you’ll have to spend on directly competitive forms of online marketing such as pay-per-click campaigns.
- Have a clear business model for your website. There are various methods of monetizing your website online, says Dodd. One of the most common of these models is selling advertising through Google’s AdSense program. Consider other options: If you’re running an information site, you could consider offering an informational product such as an e-book. You could also charge a fee for premium subscribers to your content.
- If you’re doing too much, time to delegate. You can’t do it all. Many of the most successful online business owners are expert outsourcers, says Dodd, and there are two very good reasons why: 1) To save time, and 2) To maintain an image of professionalism in every aspect of your business. If you’re not absolutely certain you can perform a task with proficiency, it’s best to hire a qualified professional. This especially applies to visible elements of your website such as website design, logo creation, and content development.
- You’re not sure how to market your product or service. There are various advertising and marketing techniques specific to the Internet. Some of the most popular include pay-per-click, social media, press releases, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO). You can educate yourself on each of these and find out which strategies work best for your own business by testing, but it is time consuming and can be frustrating for the newbie. Not only do you need to form a smart marketing strategy, you have to measure your progress and continue to make adjustments. You can sign up for an account with Google Analytics, the free standard in web metrics software, but it is strongly recommended you get help with SEO planning by hiring an expert SEO consultant. Learn more about how SEO can grow your business by visiting Search Engine Optimization eBlog.
- Avoid unrealistic expectations. The greatest barrier to online success is unrealistic expectations. The get-rich-quick schemes promoted by some Internet marketing gurus have created a lot of hype that just is not realistic. If an Internet marketing firm promises you quick results and profits, beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.