We are on the verge of a global recession and we all know why! The Covid-19 pandemic has created lots of uncertainties for businesses of all types. However, the positive news is that online businesses are going to survive once the situation starts getting normal. Therefore, as an internet entrepreneur, you should be equipped with adequate knowlege and resources to manage an online business efficiently.
Before I discuss the tips to manage an online business, let me share some hard facts. According to statistics shared by Chris Ducker, a staggering 90% internet start-ups fail, just within the first 4 months of launch!
And you think it’s easy to manage an online business in 2020, just because the number of digital buyers is rising globally? Guess not!
Here I have worked out 7 effective tips to efficiently manage an online business keeping the highly competitve Ecommerce scenario in mind.
Start with a Recession-Proof Business Plan – The Often Ignored Step to Manage An Online Business
What’s the fine line between a successful and a not-so-successful entrepreneur? The answer is a full-proof business plan, which a serious entrerpeneur creates initially, but a half-committed entrepreneur decides to skip!
A majority of entrepreneurs start with the belief that it is actually easy to manage an online business; in fact much easier than managing an offline setup.
That’s why they mostly focus on short-term objectives with an unrealistic profit figure in mind. The reality however strikes after 3-4 months when they realize the grave mistake of starting an online business without solid planning.
My take: Devote quality time for detailed planning and research. You should prepare a business plan that outlines both long and short-term objectives/ goals. Emphasize on realistic revenue projections and also work out a milestone to stay on track. Not sure how to start? You can start with free business plan templates which can be easily incorporated into excel, word or PowerPoint.
Work Out a Detailed Marketing Strategy to Manage An Online Business
Before you proceed to launch own small business website, let’s do some fact check.
At present there are around 2.0 billion websites active worldwide, out of which only 400 million sites are active and thriving!
So one thing is very clear that new online businesses need to struggle hard, VERY hard to reach potential customers across the web.
As compared to a brick-and-mortar shop which typically starts attracting customers after 4-5 months (if lucky even before that!), an online shop may remain unattended for a longer period, if the owner fails to spread the words effectively.
My take: If you want to successfully manage an online business in 2020, then you have to put greater emphasis on digital marketing. Because your competitors are already doing so!
And remember, digital marketing in 2020 is going to be lot more competitive and creative. So, you have to think beyond randomly posting images and videos on Facebook.
Here are few digital marketing trends to consider in 2020 to manage an online business and make money of it:-
- Let a chatbot do the work for you. Strengthen your Facebook marketing strategy with a free chatbot tool like MobileMonkey.
- Create personalized content for your target groups, cause 70% customers don’t like it when they are served general content.
- Make the best use of private messaging apps like Whatsapp, WeChat or Viber.
- Be transparent and real in your communication. Use video as a medium to directly TALK to your clients.
- Start a business blog and do the SEO seriously to rank higher on Google.
And finally if you are not sure of handling the digital marketing on your own, then seek an expert help.
Focus on Designing a User-Friendly and Mobile-Friendly Website
You must have visited innumerable online stores which appear like a puzzle tough to crack! Why? Because the site designs are so complicated that you fumble to discover the checkout process or contact information. Ultimately you lose patience and abandon the shopping cart.
While it’s obvious that an online business should have a well-designed fully-functional website, yet business owners often overlook this important aspect. Remember if visitors leave your site disgusted with the complicated design and navigation, then 88% of them may never return to check its refurbished look.
In fact, 75% of prospective customers judge the credibility of online business by the look and features of its website.
How Do You Plan a Fully Functional Website Design?
Mostly online small business owners decide to dabble in web designing or hire an incompetent web designer to save costs. The result? An unfriendly, non-functional website that does more harm than good. Keep in mind that there are many avenues of cutting costs but compromising on web design and development is definitely not the way to manage an online business.
Don’t do anything in hurry. Rather take time to study your competitor sites and find out what are the design elements and functions that attract/distract you the most. Now plan your site with better features and functions, but yes, Please don’t COPY PASTE the design!
Specify your design requirements very clearly and and ask the developer whether he/she will be able to incorporate these exactly the way you want.
And yes, if you are indeed serious about designing own website, then you can start by creating website mockup for free. Once the mockup is ready, seek opinion of friends and close acquaintances. And accordingly proceed with the final version.
And finally, if you can’t afford a website right now then you can manage an online business by simply starting a blog for free. Try any of these blogging platforms like WordPress.org/.com, Blogger, Tumblr, Squarespace, Medium, Wix or Weebly.
Start writing about your products/service. Promote your blogs on social media and provide your email id and contact number so that interested buyers can contact you directly. Yes, all these can be done without spending a dime!
Keep A Close Watch On Website Maintenance And Security To Manage An Online Business Efficiently
You must have applied the necessary security measures to tackle early-stage online business challenges. Yet website security issue may catch you totally off guard. It is VERY important to remember that your responsibility doesn’t end by hosting a perfectly functional website.
Rather your responsibility doubles up as you invite people to visit the website and make a purchase. Now it’s your responsibility to protect confidential customer data. You simply can’t invite users to a site whose security is compromised or a site which is poorly maintained.
In Case Your Website Gets Hacked or Compromised, Here Are Few Things to Do:-
The business website gets flagged as a phishing site or marked as ‘spam’, is perhaps the worst nightmare of every internet entrepreneur! While all the other early-stage online business challenges can be solved on your own, you need expert help to solve the website security issue.
You may have to shell out additional money to flush out malicious links from your site and then inform Google of the latest status. Usually Google takes 3-4 days to verify the status and remove the ‘harmful’ or ‘dangerous’ tag against your website name.
I reiterate this is a bit of technical issue which demands expert handling. You may try to do it on your own by installing anti-spam plugins. However, if you are not sure of the entire process including Google review, then better let a web security expert do the cleaning on your behalf!
You Need To Maintain a Steady Cash Flow To Manage An Online Business Without Hiccups
Ask entrepreneurs who have tried to manage an online business unsuccessfully and they will agree that poor fund management is the key reason behind their business failure. Since most online small businesses are started from home with personal resources the initial investment related to designing and hosting a website, is often ignored.
As you get the initial web hosting subscription at a cheap price, you feel tempted to spend more money on promotion and advertisements. After a year or so, you end up staring at an uncertain future with inadequate earning.
How to Tackle Financial Stress and Manage An Online Business Smoothly
Start with a budget. Prepare a list of business expenses that are absolutely mandatory. Also take into account unexpected emergency expenses.
Cut down costs whereever possible. If you need to purchase a laptop or computer desk for business purpose, look for pre-used products at discounted prices. Plan to buy the hosting plan for 2-3 years, since most hosting companies offer hefty discount on long-term purchases.
Your inbox might be flooded with lots of ‘free’ offers to promote your website. Be careful before you take up one.
Open a separate bank account for your online business. This way you will be able to better track the business related income and expenses.
If you are running an e-commerce platform then emphasize on logistics and supply chain management. If you have taken a business loan, try to stick to the repayment plan to avoid overdue fines.
Try some of these small business apps to automate key processes and reduce operational cost.
Build a Brand To Beat Market Competition
As a small business owner, you need to work REALLY hard and be REALLY creative to stay ahead of the competition. And this is possible if you learn the tricks to build a brand for your online business.
No matter how small your business is, you should initiate the brand building process from the day one itself to connect with your prospects emotively.
Here Are Few Easy Ways to Build Your Small Business Brand
- Your business name should be unique and memorable. Also it’s a good idea, if you can chose a domain name that matches your business name.
- The important part of brand building is designing a perfect business logo. And yes, don’t forget to trademark it.
- Try to maintain a visual identity. For example, if your logo uses 2-3 colors and a specific icon, then try to implement the same combination and visual elements in your business website, adverts, brochures, business cards, etc.e
- Use the logo and business/website name in your social media business pages.
- Design a unique digital signature for all sorts of online communications like email, newsletter, etc.
Know The Limitations To Better Manage an Online Business
If you want to appease your business appetite then internet is definitely the quickest avenue to start. At the same time, it’s important to check the feasibility of your business model.
There are certain products and services that people prefer to buy offline rather than from an online store. For instance, you are passionate about cars and want to start an online platform that sells branded cars.
Do you think such a business plan will work out? Will you be able to find buyers who agree to buy an expensive car without checking the real feel and speed of it? Now if you decide to start an online search portal that offers authentic information about the best car brands and helps buyers connect with the right sellers/dealers, then this business model is most likely to be a success!
My Take: If you have a specific business model in mind, check it out online to know if it is indeed workable or not. Find out how many companies are already operating in that space, what types of products/services they are offering and their success rates.
And before you go, here are some hard-hitting inspirational messages to help grow your own venture.
As the pandemic crisis unfolds worldwide over next few months, you need to keep a close watch on the situation and adapt to the changing scenario accordingly. You should be prepared to work out own strategies to manage an online business during recession.