The mantra “location, location, location” still holds for small business success. Only today, a “location” on the Internet is often the only address needed to start and grow a successful small business.
Indeed, many service businesses exist entirely in cyberspace, with a home office being the sole “brick and mortar” support facility. Small businesses that make and sell products can base their operations in low-cost locations, rather than paying the higher costs of more visible and customer-accessible facilities.
But while the Internet streamlines some facets of small business ownership, many things remain the same. For example, you still need to follow all the necessary research, planning, legal, and other preparatory steps involved with starting any kind of business. And while the overhead costs of an online business may be lower, you may still need financing to cover certain finance costs.
These and other considerations make a business plan as important for an online start-up as it is for its brick-and-mortar counterpart. And given the dynamic nature of the online world, it may well be even more critical to cyber-businesses.
If you plan to engage in e-commerce, you’ll need to consider the technical aspects of online marketing, such as Web hosting, secure order processing (including credit cards), fulfillment, customer support, etc.
And, of course, you’ll need to select and register an Internet domain name. Services such as Network Solutions, NameCheap.com, and GoDaddy.com make this process fast and simple. They can also help with other online business needs such as website design and hosting, email service, and more.
Then there’s the matter of alerting and attracting customers. As with every other type of business today, search engine optimization (SEO) is critical. Make sure your web content contains keywords and phrases that prospective customers are likely to use so that you’ll be more likely to rank higher in the search results. The website SearchEngineWatch.com offers a wealth of information on SEO strategies, as well as the latest news and trends regarding this all-important form of marketing.
Other resources offering tools, information, and other potentially helpful elements for your online marketing strategy include ConstantContact.com, Microsoft’s Small Business Center, and Google AdWords.
To learn more about establishing your small business, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.