By: First Union
10 Tips For Online Business Owners
In the wake of what we've all experienced and are still experiencing, it has become apparent that online businesses are going to become even more prominent than they already are. The switch to digital was inevitable as a result of the pandemic. That said, some may be new to the world of running an online business. Below are a few tips for helping entrepreneurs navigate their online company more effectively.
1. Listen to your customers
And we mean listen. Customer feedback can make or break your endeavor. And even if the feedback is negative…negative feedback in some instances can truly serve as constructive criticism. Learn from it, use it to better your approach, product, or customer service experience.
Customers now demand both quality and efficiency when dealing with virtually any company out there. You can't pull the wool over their eyes, as they say. And now in this review driven climate, they do indeed have the power to expose you. Make sure your quality is where it needs to be—again, in listening to your customer feedback you can gauge this. And don't be hesitant about letting your customers know that you are open to listening to what they have to say—be approachable to this end.
2. Customer support is key
Not only should you always be listening to your customers, but you need to also have systems in place for supporting them. Customer service, as a small online business, needs to be first and foremost on your list of priorities. Without the customers where would you be after all?
Be sure and respond to emails and comments on social media channels. Keep things transparent also when dealing with customers. If your customer support is the next level, this helps not only with word of mouth referrals but also just in terms of helping boost brand awareness.
3. Don't go too big too soon
In other words, stay within your niche—especially when just getting started. There is a ton of opportunity out there, and certainly, you might be getting excited about tapping into a variety of markets. That said, spreading yourself too thin will only be disastrous in the end.
Staying within one specific market, even specializing, will ultimately enable you to think more broadly down the road. Plus, staying focused on a single niche lets you stand out from what might otherwise be a super crowded field.
4. Make it a memorable customer experience
Why do you support certain brands and companies? In part, it is probably because of the customer experience you received. Show customers that you are willing to go that extra mile to make that experience not only good but ultra memorable. You want them to remember it, you want them to gush about it and of course, you want them to come back and for the experience again.
5. Make more efficient use of your time
Small business owners are notorious for wanting to do everything themselves. Micromanaging for some is in their DNA. However, the problem thus becomes you start to fall off as you acquire too much on your plate. Rather than optimizing those tasks, you are strong at, you become subpar at a whole host of tasks. Ultimately, you will burnout.
Use your team! Also, look into automating some of the tasks that you're now doing manually—it'll make life much easier down the road. You have to assign value to your time as no one else will.
6. Find a balance
You know what they say…all work and no play. Yes, there's a lot to do. Yes, you have to ensure it is getting done. But refrain from burning that candle at both ends, all day every day. Working 80 hour weeks simply isn't sustainable. And if you have zero life outside of work, you will begin to question why you're doing this in the first place.
Look into hiring the right people so that you feel comfortable delegating more responsibility. Your team is your backbone in many ways. Use them. Even if you're a smaller operation, you still can get the help you need so you too can have a life outside of work.
7. Don't fear the competition
You may be new to this, you may be the small fish in a pond of bigger more intimidating fish, but never let them see you sweat. Don't be afraid of larger companies already in your market. You very well might be filling a gap that the competition overlooked. There is a need for your product—emphasize this need and the product's uniqueness. Every product has that unique angle in some capacity.
Plus, odds are, you may be more open to new approaches and ideas. Larger more established companies often tend to be stuck in a single mindset. They've had success up to this point so why toy with what's not broken. Here's where you could very well have a competitive edge.
8. Always be organized
This is just common sense. A seamlessly run business is one that is organized from the start. All aspects of your company should be routinely organized. Not to mention, writing things down and keeping detailed notes when applicable is going to be so key. Especially as things do get more hectic and busy…you may think you're going to remember, odds are pretty good though, you probably won't.
By being more organized you also set the ideal example for your team. Of course, you want to cultivate this same appreciation for the organization in them as well.
9. Pick your battles
This is so critical. There are going to be ups and downs, highs and lows. Problems are going to creep up make no mistake about it. In the early years, there will be a fair amount of growing pains experienced. You need to focus on those issues/problems that are solvable. You may not be able to address everything just as you want to, so you need to be able to deal with more key situations optimally. Small wins help keep things moving forward while boosting morale.
10. Build a team
You can only go it alone for so long, then you'll just set yourself up for becoming stagnant. Pick individuals with like-minded goals, those who share your vision, and demonstrate real excitement about the concept behind the company. Having a strong team in place will be the key to your eventual success.
If you need cash for your online business during this difficult time, First Union Lending can help. Call today!