These days, expanding your business couldn’t be easier! Most businesses, from the local, privately owned ones, to the national and international giants, have some type of online business expansion that they are working on to try and reach more people.
Bill Gates predicted that by the end of 2002, there would only be two kinds of online businesses – those with an Internet presence and those without any business at all. While he may have been a bit premature with his predictions, the fact remains that the Internet plays a huge part in business today, and one can no longer afford to lag behind.
If you haven’t yet established an online presence for your business, now is the time to make it happen. Following are a few things you should be aware of before you make your move and launch out into the World Wide Web.
Doing Business Online Will Not Make You Rich Overnight
Despite what the Internet gurus might tell you, expanding your business online is not a quick way to make an easy buck. Like any other business venture, it takes time, hard work and expertise.
Just because you are using the Internet to promote and sell your products, it doesn’t mean you will see the returns overnight.
The success of your website will depend on a number of things, including your particular products or services, your marketing strategy, your determination to make it work and how much you are willing to put into it.
An Online Business Expansion Will Cost You Money
Another big myth about starting an online business is that it won’t cost you anything and that you can do it without any starting capital. True, starting an online business means you don’t need to find and pay for a physical location and deal with all the expenses that come with opening a new branch, but you still need to be prepared to spend money if you want to make money.
Unless you are lucky and happen to know a lot about web hosting and web design, you will have to pay experts to design your website and get it properly SEO optimized. Aside from this, you will need someone who knows what they are doing to manage your website, especially if you are going to be selling things online.
Then you will need to organize customer support options to deal with the inevitable complaints and issues that will crop up once you have generated enough traffic to actually be making online sales.
Your Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly
Simply having an online presence is no longer enough, your website needs to be mobile-friendly as well. Today, there are almost 1.2 billion mobile web users throughout the world, which means that if your website is too slow or just not set up for mobile use, you could miss out on a lot of business.
Tablets and smartphones may have larger screens than mobile phones used to, but a regular website will still be difficult to view and require lots of scrolling up and down. Large images that may load quickly with broadband will be sluggish on a mobile connection and video clips that run with Flash may not run at all on many handsets.
This sheds bad light on your business and prevents users from understanding your key message. To avoid this, it is important that you work with a qualified design company that understands what you want to convey and knows how to bring that across to your target audience.
Your Website Should Be Constantly Evolving
You should never think of your website as “finished” because a website that isn’t evolving, changing and being updated with new content daily or at least weekly, will not generate much traffic, despite your best efforts with keywords and design.
Try to find ways to keep your website fresh and attractive to new customers. Some businesses opt to keep a blog as part of their website. This is a great way to keep customers updated and add new content as often as possible.
Also, it’s a good idea to give your customers a place where they can comment on your services or products, the design of your website, etc. Many people shy away from doing this, for fear that customers will leave bad feedback, but as a business owner, you should be welcoming all feedback, both good and bad, because it will help you to improve your service and keep your customers happy.
Besides, these days there are plenty of other online places where people can vent if they want to, so it’s better to have it where you can see it, react to it and hopefully learn from it.
None of this is meant to discourage you from expanding your business online, as it can be hugely profitable and you will certainly earn back the money you spent. It is simply to make you aware that expanding to the online market place will cost you time and money, no matter how you look at it.
If you are prepared for these challenges, your online expansion will give your business a huge boost.