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Last Updated on June 1, 2020

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

There are thousands of free guides available online on how to start an online business. However, the most valuable lesson they never discuss is that starting a new business online is probably going to fail.

Successful professionals that excel at some point with a venture never gave up, had a passion for creating a meaningful service or product idea, and never stopped trying.

Starting a business is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion to work on something you never get tired of. If people like coming to you for advice or to help them with work-related tasks, then you have the necessary skills and experience to start a business.

In addition, if you have a curiosity about services and products, maybe you have the capacity and capabilities to create something more innovative.

In the next section, we will comprehensively examine the core elements in starting a business. They will not necessarily catapult you to create Google, Facebook, or Apple, but they will guide you on how to start an online business.

1. Remember That the Likelihood of Your Business Failing Is High

Building a product or service is a process that takes a lot of time, so do not think that successful CEOs did it with the snap of their fingers.

According to the Small Business Association (SBA), only 30 percent of businesses will fail in the first two years and 50 percent will probably stay open in the first five years.[1] It is something to think about when launching your online business.

However, this does not mean you should be discouraged, and it’s actually a valuable lesson to fail since it will give you clues on what to do right the next time.

2. Focus on Your Audience and Targeted Niche Market

One of the most difficult things is figuring out who your customers are and tailoring your product or service for them. Depending on your available resources and the size of your network, the scale of your venture will be contingent on this. Knowing your targeted niche is important in knowing how to start an online business.

If you are launching a business, will you go the retail route or create an online store? Will your service satisfy the needs of a startup, small business, enterprise, or corporation? There is no right or wrong answer.

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Think about your audience and what the size of your customer base will be. Without knowing your customers, you cannot start a business.

3. Conduct a Lot of Research and Examine the Segment of Your Potential Market

Depending on the sort of business, you will have to do hours of research and ask a lot of questions. It helps a lot to look at specific companies or businesses to get an idea of how they started.

This may be a daunting task for some, and there are other avenues to explore to assist you with building a business. The web has tons of resources and you can check out Fundera’s list of 50 tools to help grow your business.[2]

In addition, you must tap into a reliable business networking list of people to guide you on how to start an online business.

4. Tap Into the Reach of Social Media and Expand Your Message

Gone are the days of paying expensive advertising budgets. Thanks to social channels like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, businesses can advertise for free. On the other hand, you can spend and create marketing campaigns on those different platforms.

Figure out which one is best suited to your needs and where that audience is active. When your online business has figured out where its message has the most impact and when your customers are responding to your message, then you know you are in the right place.

5. Network With Influencers and Brand Your Company on an Optimized Blog

Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, you may need to consider networking in the initial phases. If you want to know how to start an online business, then you should also learn how to network with influencers.

Social media is a valuable tool, and you can reach out to brand influencers depending on the line of products or services you wish to promote. Gone are the days of just putting an advertisement campaign and expecting a big return. Instead, you now have to create partnerships and blog about your branded efforts.

Make sure you have an optimized blog with search engine optimization (SEO) tools built-in, so you can focus on attracting customers and followers.

6. Create a Monetization Plan Tailored to Your Products and Services

Whether you are a startup, small business, enterprise, or a large company, you have to be strategic with your company efforts. Do you have an omni-channel strategy in place to attract clients and potential business?

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In other words, you must have the integration with your site and selected social media channels to generate revenue from products or services.

Believe it or not, not having a clear investment plan on how you will generate business is one factor often overlooked by starting businesses. The technology is there and depending on your institutional resources, you will have to look at a couple of vendors to see which one gets you the best value for your company.

7. Monitor Your Progress and Schedule Meetings Weekly

When your business is live online, you need to monitor progress. You must look at your data, key performance indicators (KPIs), and financials to see how your company is progressing over time.

This is a very different mindset when you are in a large company, but an average-sized online business has to do housekeeping procedures. The products or services advertised online are just one part of the equation.

Are you attracting customers? Are your interactions with clients translating to transactions or conversion?

These questions can only be answered by looking at your data and financial statements. When you can compare both, you will have an excellent understanding of the current state of affairs.

8. Once You Have Refined Your Online Product or Service, Officially Launch Your Business

Once you have more or less found the online product or service to serve customers, you are ready for prime time.

As long as your monetization plan lines up carefully with your investment, you can go live with your business. This can be in the form of an official announcement via your site, hosting a live event, or reaching out to media outlets to plug your company launch.

There is no right or wrong way to go about his process. But make sure that the state of the company propels you to launch the online service or product.

9. Once Your Business is Growing, Retain Customers and Attract New Ones

Having customers at the beginning is crucial for an online business. In fact, it is important for any business period.

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For the customers who have decided to adopt or buy your service, make sure you are delivering above and beyond customer service. They will not only continue to buy services, but they will also likely recommend your service to others. So, go the extra mile to thank them for their business.

If possible, develop perks programs and giveaways since customers enjoy the red carpet and celebrity treatment.

10. Use Social Media Networks Ethically and Steer Away From Shady Business Practices

It is tempting to use several social media platforms and buy fake followers. The problem is if the business is a lot bigger than it seems, it will come back to haunt you.

There is nothing more embarrassing or outright unprofessional than having thousands of followers who never interact with the posts you share. Unfortunately, social media has lost credibility when it comes to building fake followers and fake news. So, do not fall in the trap of trying to grow your brand artificially.

Aim for organic followers. This means having real customers following you and engaging your brand in authentic ways.

11. Continue Tracking the Results of the Business

Meetings are essential to tracking the state of affairs and the state of your staff. These meetings should also include tracking the performance as a result of your online business (product or service).

Are the results positive? Are they negative? Are they producing productive results?

Analytics is vital to understanding how the business is performing, so make sure you can get a snapshot of where you are at. Successful businesses cover their tracks and that includes looking at the bottom line performance of their product or service.

12. Utilize Search Engines to Attract Targeted Customers to Your Site

There are advertising systems and price tiers for the different social networks, but search engines like Google and Bing are still important.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is offered in tiers through the Google search engine and Microsoft’s search engine Bing. This remains one of the simplest and most effective ways to generate traffic to a brand new site.

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As reported by Entrepreneur, the PPC offers two advantages. One advantage is that PPC ads show up on the search pages right away. The second one is it allows you as a business to test different keywords including headlines, prices, and selling approaches.[3]

13. Provide Expert Advice and Testimony Through Different Mediums

It can be challenging to get brand visibility when you are a brand business. However, if you have some significant knowledge and expertise in your company product or service, you should offer insight. This means you can publish a blog post with powerful visuals, an infographic, a webinar, a YouTube video, etc.

The idea is to plug your service but make it an interesting testimony that tells a story. It is not enough to tell the story of your product, but you have to connect with popular culture if possible.

Be creative and take risks because that may be the difference between success and failure.

14. An Online Business Cannot Succeed Without Effective Email Marketing Strategies

When you are compiling customer data, one of the most valuable pieces of information is a phone number and particularly an email address.

With an email, you can build an opt-in list. This list allows you to create newsletters or announcements to be sent to their inbox for exclusive offers.

You can set up a provider or a third party to analyze customer interactions with your email offers. What it will provide your business is cost opportunity and it is cheaper than print, TV, or radio.

Final Thoughts

After you have found your calling in building a product or service, start putting the building stones to create your service and product. It needs to solve a problem that no other business offers. If you are about solving problems, an online business is a right venture for you.

Launching an online business is a complicated undertaking, so do not expect instant results. Building a successful online business takes time, investing money, and developing a service that makes a profit.

Finally, make sure you have the available resources and a reliable team that will accompany you throughout your journey. They need to be loyal and have to bring something unique to your big idea.

Take risks and fail early because these experiences are the foundations for launching a successful company.

More Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Featured photo credit: Olu Eletu via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Anthony Carranza

Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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