If your business has never had an online presence before, the most recent 12-plus months of the still ongoing global pandemic may have caused you to ask yourself the question “how to take my business online”. Even if you were apprehensive about taking your business online in the past, the last year has shown that having an online presence can save a brick-and-mortar business in a crisis – since the start of the coronavirus pandemic technology has transformed how we do business, how we engage with our clients and customers, how we provide our services and how we sell our products. Continue reading to learn how to take your business online.
The Benefits of Having an Online Presence
One of the most immediate benefits of having an online presence is the extended reach your business will be able to take advantage of. Nearly everyone is online and connected to the internet throughout most of their time these days and not having an online presence will greatly limit your business’ ability to reach those audience and potentially convert them into paying customers.
E-commerce has allowed many retail operators to continue trading while their brick and mortar stores had to shut down or at least temporarily close their doors to walk-in customers last year. Will e-commerce completely take over retail though? Regardless of what the future may hold, in the present, even if you are adamant about maintaining your brick and mortar store, there is no reason why you could not improve your bottom line by also offering an online shopping option.
Taking your business online can also empower your business with new marketing opportunities, giving you the ability to advertise to people who would otherwise never even know that your company exists on social media and search engines.
The Challenges of Going Online
There are several areas of taking your business online where you may face challenges, especially if it is your first time.
When going digital, you may need to consider not just “how to take my business online?”, but also “how do people who are online, engage and look for businesses, services or products like the ones I offer?”. It can be difficult to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, however. As business owners, we are often liable to become trapped in our own understanding of what we do, forgetting that very often our potential customers are not looking for our products or services specifically, but rather for products and services like the ones we offer. It is especially important to remember when taking your business online, that to be found on the internet we need to directly respond to how people search the web for what we do.
Knowing your audiences as well as what platforms they use and how, requires some thought on social media as well. For example, a florist may not necessarily get a lot of traction by marketing on LinkedIn, but Instagram and Facebook may be a good option. Conversely, an accounting firm should most certainly appear on LinkedIn, but may look severely out of place on Instagram.
Taking your business online requires a fair bit of technical know-how too. You will generally need a website which will need to be designed, developed, and built. In addition, a social media presence on the platforms most appropriate to what you do, can also require a bit of technical work – on the business end, not all social media platforms are as easy to work with as on the ordinary user’s end.
Where getting a website is concerned, there are plenty of platforms that can help you do that yourself. For example, in e-commerce, WordPress + WooCommerce are popular option for more advanced users, with Shopify generally much easier to manage for beginners. There is an ever growing list of other platforms competing for your attention. That said, creating a functional, attractive and effective website still requires a range of technical skills and experience in areas such as design and development.
How to Take Your Business Online – Overcoming Obstacles
While you can certainly take a “do it yourself” approach, remember that your business itself also needs you to run it and that your customers need to be served. It may be very easy to get caught up in doing everything yourself, but never forget that you can get help too. There is steadily increasing number of online marketing agencies that offer services from building websites to managing your social media, and if you find yourself way over your head, or too distracted from actually doing business, outsourcing the management of your online presence to a third party may be a good option to consider.
Do not forget, however, that having a website or being on social media is not the be-all-and-end-all of ways in which you can improve your company. If you’re looking for business growth advice, get in touch with the Taggart & Partners team of business accountants. We offer business advisory services that can help you improve your bottom line. Get in touch online, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07) 3391 1188 now to get started today.