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10 Reasons Why You Should Invest In An Online Business Today

10 Reasons Why You Should Invest In An Online Business Today

The advent of the Internet has created a new and exciting economy, which by its sheer scope and size has changed our perception of traditional ways of doing business. Multinational companies like Amazon and E-bay have come up thanks to the Internet and now dominate areas where, just few years ago, traditional brick-and-mortar companies once ruled.

Even small- and mid-sized companies are making impressive profits by taking advantage of the Internet to conduct businesses. One survey by Harris Interactive, a leading market research firm, found that 81 per cent of small businesses that had an online presence during a holiday season reached new customers, leading to an increase in sales and profitability.

Similarly, another study by Gartner research found that 30 per cent of small businesses with a web presence and fewer than 20 employees generated more than 25 per cent of their revenue online. If these statistics are not convincing enough, here are a few more reasons why you should seriously consider investing in an online business, if you haven’t already.

1. You get streamlined company branding

In today’s digital age, people simply don’t take a company or business seriously if it doesn’t have a website. People often quickly check out a company’s product or service offerings and related content online to make quick judgments on the business before they engage with it. That’s why your company needs to have a presence on the Internet, whether you conduct business online or not. Investing in an online business presence is a great way to streamline and bolster your company’s image and brand.

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2. You have low start-up costs

Once upon a time, setting up a business online cost business owners a small fortune. Today, however, getting online is not only cheap, but also becoming easier to accomplish thanks to emergence of new technologies. Free website-building tools and open source Content Management Systems like Drupal and WordPress allow you to build a website for free with templates. For less than 10 dollars a month, you can have a full-fledged, self-hosted corporate site with all e-commerce features in place.

What this means is that the playing field for small businesses to compete with major corporations has been leveled. It’s up to you now to step up, take advantage of the low start-up costs, and get online.

3. You have lower risk on investment

Online businesses are generally lower risk than brick-and-mortar businesses because setting one up doesn’t have to cost a lot. Another reason online businesses are low risk is because of their adaptability. With the right investment in terms of online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and so on, it is possible to turn a losing business into a profitable one in a relatively short amount of time.

There are also a myriad of unique ways to make money from your website aside from creating and selling your own products, such as affiliate marketing. This means new ways to create an income stream online.

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4. You have reduced overhead and operation costs

Because online businesses generally aren’t tied to a location, they require less work to maintain. This is particularly true in cases where physical products, distribution, rent, and other costs are non-existent. In the retail industry, for example, a shop owner can browse and purchase goods for resale from suppliers around the globe without leaving the comfort of his computer desk. How’s that for convenience?

By simply adopting an e-business solution, your business can reduce more than 5 per cent of your travel, repair, maintenance, and operation costs. This 5 per cent savings can turn into 50 per cent of you company’s net profit!

5. You can do business 24 hours a day all year round

Another huge advantage of investing in an online business is that it makes it possible for you to do business 24 hours a day year round. For example, you can set up a virtual retail shop that never closes, meaning you can literally make money while you sleep.

Even when your business closes for the day, automatic online systems can ensure sales don’t stop. In some cases, automatic sales during off-hours can be more than your regular sales during business hours.

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6. You have added flexibility

Thanks to the Internet, if you need to work from home, you can. In fact, you can do your work from just about anywhere in the world, as long as you have a reliable Internet connection. This remarkable flexibility is another huge attractor to many entrepreneurs and business owners. It means you can run a profitable online business while also exploring other ventures, or spending more time with your family.

7. You have access to a global customer base

With an online business, you instantly become a global player. That’s because customers from all over the world can learn about and purchase your products and services with just a few clicks of the mouse. For a nominal fee, you can also get access to large audiences on hundreds of e-marketplaces on the net. AMR Research has reported in the past that more than 1.3 trillion dollars worth of goods and services flow through B2B marketplaces online. You really don’t want to miss out on this growing piece of the pie.

8. You have more advanced marketing tools

Marketing is one of the most important components to any business. What makes marketing online more attractive is the tremendous number of marketing channels you can take advantage of. Blogs, podcasts, videos, social media, email campaigns, white papers, eBooks, and a variety of other assets can all be used to attract your target profile. Admittedly, marketing on the Internet is becoming more expensive, but tracking and measuring your return on investment is much easier and advanced.

By taking advantage of tools like Google Analytics and scoring data from online marketing companies like Moz, you can monitor not just your customers, but also your business competitors in real time. This empowers you to adapt fast and change your approach and strategies as needed. If conversion rates are low, for example, you can make some tweaks to your website to increase conversion.

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In addition, targeting specific demographics has never been easier, especially with the rise of social media advertising. You can now define the audience you want to target in precise detail, and begin to market to those people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.

9. You can give better customer feedback and support

Advancements in Internet technology also mean that online businesses can now provide better customer support and deliver information more efficiently. Just a couple of years ago, companies used to require days to deliver product or service update information to their customers. Things have changed since then. Today, if your business is online, you can add or make changes to your company info or product description virtually within no time, publish on your site and share with customers on social media.

You can also communicate with customers in real-time about your products or services online. This means improved customer engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately increased profitability for your business.

10. You have improved networking opportunities

It can get pretty lonely running a business. That’s because business owners spend most of their days in their offices working. In the past, a business owner’s only option was to join a local chamber of commerce in order to network and learn from fellow entrepreneurs. Thankfully, the Internet has created a global community of peers only a click away who can relate to the problems, stresses, and excitement of running a business. You don’t have to join a local chamber of commerce anymore to network.

Simply log on to the blogosphere and join relevant online chat rooms, social media groups, and forums to connect with other business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs. Today, a person in Silicon Valley can exchange ideas regarding promotional and marketing techniques with someone in the same line of business based in Jo’burg, South Africa. It’s even easier than ever before to reach out to gurus and celebrities in your space and work with them online. Certainly an exciting time to get online!

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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