One of the top advances in the digital age is the ability for an individual to create a small business without the traditional startup costs of days past. The expenses of a brick-and-mortar facility are no longer an inhibitor when someone has a great idea about a product or a service that can fill a niche.
While the process is quicker these days, there are still decisions to make on how you start your business. Smart choices allow you to maximize your visibility, reliability, and your communication with your customers, which is vital to retention.
Whether you’re selling cat toys or custom car wheels, bell bottoms or baked goods, these four tools will give you a leg up on how to start an online business.
How to start a website
No website means no business. What many people don’t realize is that without a superior website domain provider, your company is taking risks of which you’re not even aware.
Picking the wrong one can expose your site to higher downtime, suspect website security, and poor customer service.
Not only can those flaws compromise the integrity of your website, but they also can lose you customers in a hurry. A study by Tribute Media reports that a new visitor to your website will spend about 7 seconds deciding if it’s worth their time to stay or not.
If your site is loading slowly or not at all due to a lousy choice of website provider, potential customers will run screaming from it. One of the best companies in the business for hosting and building business websites is GoDaddy. GoDaddy might have made its big splash with risque commercials, but there’s a ton of value behind the flashiness. Here are a few of GoDaddy’s best features when you’re building your business online:
- 24/7/365 Phone, Chat and Email Support: Customer service is a huge deal when picking a website host because if something’s wrong or your site is down, you need it fixed ASAP. Having the ability to get a tech on the phone or talk via instant messenger is a source of confidence and stress relief for business owners because no matter how dire the situation, there’s a professional standing by to help you resolve it.
- Design Features: Designing your business website it like furnishing your dream home: You want everything just so and will not abide things out of place. GoDaddy boasts more than 300 professional templates to choose from, plus drag-and-drop functionality if you need to build or rearrange your site.
- Backup and Restore: There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling that you’ve tried to add a new component to a website and suddenly the screen goes black. Before you overhaul your site, add new products, or new functionality, GoDaddy allows you to create backup points that are hardwired to your site. That way, if you make a mistake or if someone exploits a vulnerability in your design, you can restore it to a previous version with a single click. No harm, no foul.
Where to Host Your Website
Building a website and hosting one are two different things. Think about your home: The company that constructed it doesn’t own the land it’s sitting on. The same applies to your new business website. You’ll want a web host that can grow as you grow.
The worst thing a business can do is have to waste downtime building larger accommodations while customers are trying to break down the doors to give you money.
As online business tools go, HostGator is one of the most intuitive in the game. It utilizes some of the smartest current technology to give you every inch of the professional appearance and back-end applications that you desire.
Even the least-expensive plan includes unlimited bandwidth, storage, databases and email addresses. And the top-tier Business plan goes outside the box, offering a toll-free hotline number for customers to call you on along with a private SSL certificate, which reassures customers who pay for items on your site that their financial security is a big deal.
How to Get a Logo
Web visitors might forget what your website looks like over time, but a great logo will stick in their mind and give you transferable brand appeal each time that person sees it again.
When you’re starting a new small-to-medium business (SMB), a logo can set you apart as unique and also inform customers that this is an authentic endeavor.
Logos should be clean, consistent, readable, and memorable. Easy words to live by, much more difficult to accomplish. Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, this is a job best left to someone else while you focus on your areas of strength.
A brilliant resource for original logos for your company is 99Designs, a freelance community that allows you to create a brief for what you’d like your logo to incorporate and find a designer to bring it to life.
The unique part of this process is your ability to create a design ‘contest’ where you create your brief and invite designers to show off their skills. The first part is a ‘qualifying round’ that lasts four days and allows designers to show off their skills with your logo idea.
You pick up to six designers to reach the final round, giving them feedback on their design before picking a ‘winner’, whose design you pay for and take ownership of as your logo.
The Power of Marketing
No matter how professional and information your website is, customers are not going to flock to your business out of nowhere. You’ll need to lead them there, and one of the best ways to do so is using Internet marketing software. An email marketing tool for small businesses like Constant Contact is a robust, multi-purpose system that can.
- Send email auto-responders to customers for signing up, or celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.
- Hold up to 500 contacts at the most basic level of service.
- Create custom emails with hundreds of available templates, themes, and images.
- Create specific email lists and customer segments.
- Set up and track email campaigns.
An alternative to Constant Contact is AWeber, which caters to small business owners and those who want to create content but are pressed for time to do so.
AWeber offers free webinars, courses, and templates to help its new and seasoned customers. With 20 years experience under its belt, AWeber has a lot to offer to new business owners like yourself.