Setting up a Small Business in an Online World

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Setting up an online business isn’t easy. While most would-be entrepreneurs embark on their online journeys full of good intentions and hopes for the future, the reality is that businesses fail. A lot. In fact, over 90% of internet start-ups fail within three months.

Want to join that heralded 10%? We’ve put together a quickfire guide that’ll give you that boost you need to get your business on the right track. It’s based on two buildings blocks: a solid space from which you can do your work, and having a thought-out plan and executing it without abandon. Let’s get to it.

Your (Home) Office

Small businesses are increasingly being run from a home office. But there’s a big difference between someone who works in a comfortable and efficient environment and the type that plops their laptop on their kitchen table (hint: the latter isn’t recommended). To ensure you set up your office to succeed from the get-go, keep the following tips in mind:

Ergonomic rules matter. You’re going to be spending most of your day sitting on your behind staring at a computer screen. Your body deserves to be taken care of. In other words, don’t just buy the cheapest office chair you see at Ikea.

Ergonomic solutions should rule the roost here. Think to keep the top of your computer screen at eye level. Your forearms should always be parallel to the floor. Your feet should not be dangling about; get a footrest, for example. Your chair must be the most comfortable thing on the planet, almost better than your bed.

Natural light. SAD is real. You need natural light (or the closest thing to it) to ensure you stay happy and productive. Open your curtains when you get up. Position your desk near a window if you can. If the winter blues are starting to catch up with you, invest in a SAD lamp to get you through to spring.

Add some green. Plants are scientifically proven to make you happy. Buy some. We recommend going for varieties that don’t require a lot of TLC.  Succulents, snake plants, and the Chinese evergreen are all good options.

Internet connection. Don’t skimp on your internet connection, period. You’re going to want a solid broadband provider that won’t drop your important Skype calls, will allow you to watch online video tutorials, and upload your website files in minutes instead of hours.

Luckily, a decent broadband connection for a small business isn’t expensive. You just need to shop around a little bit. Many companies can give you an all-in-one package, including free calls as standard.

Online safety. Once you’ve set up your internet connection you want to make sure that your network is adequately protected. In today’s online environment, various forms of hacking are ever prevalent in all aspects of daily life and you should be vigilant with your business not becoming exposed to any potential attacks. Your first course of action would be to change your standard network password to something other than what the manufacturer provided (usually an alphanumeric code printed on the device itself). Your next step should be to set up an antivirus and there is no shortage of options available online, but you want one that also comes with additional enhanced firewall protection. For the ultimate peace of mind, you can even get a professional company to ethically hack your computer, a process known as penetration testing, that can reveal just how good your newly installed security measures really are. The company gives you a detailed report on how your network fared during the process and provide you with the appropriate solutions should it fail the test in any way.

Build a Roadmap

Even if you’re an expert in your field and a natural salesperson, you won’t get anywhere without a plan:

Find your niche. When it comes to starting a business, we think simple is best: find a hole, fill it. In other words, look for a market that ticks the following boxes: a) there’s a market, b) you can beat the competition, and c) you have some expertise in the industry.

Set up a cheap website. You don’t need a lot of money to get your website off the ground. If you’re someone that knows their way with WordPress, use a cheap registrar like NameCheap and a cloud hosting platform (CloudWays isn’t bad). No need for fancy bells and whistles at this stage. Otherwise, go for SquareSpace. A couple of clicks and your business is live.

Need a logo? Go to Fiverr and get one designed for just $5. If you have a few more $$, head on over to 99Designs.

Know how to monetise. You need to have a clear idea where the money is going to come from. Don’t start a mommy blog or health/fitness site without thinking it through. There are several easy ways you can make a living through a website that gets traffic:

 

  • Sell your knowledge. eBooks, video courses, apps, etc.
  • Membership section. Give some of the good stuff away for free and funnel people through a private (paid) members section.
  • Ads. Google Adsense is your friend.
  • Consulting, freelancing, webinars. Use your expertise to sell services to individuals or groups.
  • Products (affiliate or your own). Start with the Amazon affiliate program and build things up to sell your very own product.

 

Promote your service. You can get your name out there without spending a dime (or very little). Google Adwords will multiply your ad spend when you first start your business, for example. Bing does the same thing.

You can also promote your services or products by establishing yourself as an authority in the niche. Help people on Facebook or message boards, for example. Show you care and that you know what you’re talking about. People will come to you without you needing to churn out your sales spiel.