If you’ve read our last blog and think you have both a great idea for an online home business and the gumption to get it off the ground, then you are probably wondering where to start. With a brick-and-mortar business things are pretty clear: you rent or buy space, set up your shop or place of service, set up a way to take money, and then start marketing. The good news is that the internet isn’t much different, and in most cases, much easier and less expensive than a real-life storefront.
But perhaps you still have reservations. Let’s answer a few questions you may have and get you closer to getting that business off the ground and in the cloud.
How Will My Online Business Make Money?
This is without a doubt the most important question that needs to be asked before investing valuable time and money in a business. And it has many aspects. Will you be selling goods or a service? Will you be marketing the business locally, nationally, or globally? Will your customers or clients need to communicate with you or your staff directly in a typical sales cycle?
Another consideration is how will you actually accept payments from customers or clients and how will you access that money? Just like a brick-and-mortar store, there needs to be a place to pay that’s easy to find and use, and potentially in your situation accepts a wide variety of payment types or international currencies.
Simply asking these questions may not provide you with much insight, but as you read on, let the question of how you will make money with your business guide you in practically all the decisions you will make about your business.
Do I Need a Website for My Online Business?
Most people new to the online home business world may not see a website as a necessity since there are so many third-party storefronts out there like Etsy, eBay, and even Amazon where small home businesses can sell their wares. It may at first seem silly to invest money in a website when people will be purchasing from you through a third-party website.
But as your business grows and you start to realize that third-party websites can change the rules of the game (and your income) at their slightest whim, owning a little corner of the web where you have complete control starts looking more mission critical.
While making money on third-party platforms, you can still drive business to your website by offering special deals, more in depth information, or different ways your loyal customers or clients can follow you or your business. Because it is your space, you can do whatever you want to help with branding, customer connection, and even offer a more personalized feel for your business. And most importantly, if there is a payment gateway there, you own it and can set the prices and terms.
Lastly, even if you start out with a pretty basic website while relying on third party platforms for your business, once it does start to grow, that website will be your best bet for scalability and growth. The sooner you get a domain and a website attached to your business, the sooner you will have created a namespace for your business that will continue to work for you long into the future.
What Type of Workload Should I Expect From an Online Home Business?
As with any business, the more effort you put into your business, the better chance for success you will have. That being said, the more efficiently you work, the more effective you will be and the better off your business will be. The key here is to make wise decisions about how you spend your time.
You may think that it takes less work to make a small online business successful than it does to get the same results from a physical business, but that is not necessarily true. In both cases, you have to “build” your storefront; create and maintain a payment gateway; take care of the bookkeeping; brand and market your business; potentially manage employees; keep up to date with inventory; address any security concerns; and continue to be innovative and creative.
An online home business, however, can have its advantages when it comes to workload, and the biggest one here would be scheduling. The doors are open on an online business 24/7, but in most cases you can set your own schedule when that work should be done. Your biggest challenge will be determining what deserves the lion’s share of your attention and what doesn’t.
An example of a time trap a lot of online home business owners fall into is spending too much time on social media marketing and not enough on other forms of marketing (we’ll go over some social media and general marketing basics in upcoming blogs). Being on too many platforms is the usual culprit. But whatever trap you are falling into as an online home business owner, the key to identifying and escaping the problem area is our very next topic.
Do I Need Analytics for My Online Home Business?
If you want to avoid wasting time and money on efforts that are not producing results (and who wouldn’t!) then getting a basic grasp of web analytics and implementing an analytics platform like Google Analytics on your website is critical. If you plan on doing business on a third-party platform, make sure they have accessible analytics in place and refer to them often. Even if all your income is coming from a third-party platform, sending your clients/customers to a website you own can usually offer more robust and meaningful data on your most responsive and loyal customers.
Not only can website analytics let you know when a marketing effort isn’t working, it can also spell out clearly when it is. You can get insight into what content is most compelling to your customers or clients, and how they found their way to your website. You can identify geographic areas and other demographics that are most responsive to your goods or services and increase your marketing efforts there. You can also better assess the effectiveness of your third-party advertising dollars without relying solely on the reporting of those same third-party vendors.
Most importantly, having your own website with analytics in place can give you a clearer, broader picture of your business’ reach on the web.
What If I Can’t Handle All the Technical Aspects of My Online Business Myself?
The internet can be a technically complicated place – especially if you plan on doing business there. Things may not be complicated in the beginning if you are strictly doing business on a third-party platform, but as your business grows and your web footprint grows with it, calling in an expert when you need it is never a bad decision.
These days building a website can be easy, but building one that can rise above the competition is harder than it’s ever been. If you plan on building your own website and you are not familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), call an expert for help. Likewise, internet marketing and social media are filled with pitfalls that can eat up resources without offering much in return unless you really know what you are doing. Hiring a marketing expert can actually save you money in the long run. For some industries, a single click thru on Google Ads can be as much as $100 or even far more. Hire an expert before throwing good money after bad.
If you have the budget, hiring a tech partner that specializes in startup online businesses can be a huge boost to getting your business off the ground and profitable as quickly as possible. A good tech partnership firm will have experts in the many fields that make an online business successful, and working with experts will help you have a better grasp of all the moving parts of your new business. You can get some quick insight into which aspects you really like focusing on and which you may want to consider hiring out to someone more qualified.
In the end, setting up, running, and maintaining a successful online home business is a matter of using your time and money wisely, so making sure you are set up to do just that is critical in the very beginning.
If you need help starting your online home business, the team here at Blink;Tech would be happy to talk with you about your needs and goals. Please reach out to us by calling (941) 548-9950 or filling out our contact form below!