Online work is not just a way to connect with more customers. By creating an online presence for your business, you create a storefront that is accessible at all times. You are no longer hindered by inventory space or location.
You can be where customers now EXPECT you to be, on the Internet.
Online Market Statistics
According to Internet World Stats, more than 2 billion people are using the Internet around the world.This includes 272,066,000 in the United States alone, about 78 percent of the population. Needless to say, many of these people are using the Internet to shop online. When you want to create a successful business, you need to be where people expect you to be, online.
These numbers continue to grow with the technology, allowing people the opportunity to find everything they need, right from the comfort of their home. With an online business, people are able to do a variety of things.
- Shop from a larger inventory. Since customers are no longer hindered by what is in stock in a physical store, they are more likely to buy from online stores. They can always find the item they need, without having to necessarily wait until a new shipment comes in. The shipments are coming from larger warehouses and wholesalers.
- Compare prices from multiple companies. When you go online, you can also look at the different prices that different companies offer, allowing you the chance to find the best possible price for your budget.
- Look at reviews of products. Many online stores are now adding places for customers to review items, allowing customers the chance to see what others think of items before making their final decision.
- Buy items easily. Instead of spending time and gas money driving from store to store for the best price or the right item, online businesses provide customers with the chance to purchase items from home, even having the items delivered without any need to leave home.
- Make purchases in a secure environment. Online stores are now equipped with the best security features to ensure credit card orders are safe and secure.
- Order items from anywhere and receive orders anywhere. No matter where a person might be in the world, they will be able to place an order and have it delivered to their current location, even when that is not necessarily their home.
It is no wonder that The Independent Newspaper notes that 83 percent of customers have shopped at least once online. By creating an online store for your current physical shop or starting a new online business from scratch, you will tap into a large market that is already interested in what you have to offer.
What Online Work is and is not
While the benefits of having an online store are clear, many people are not quite sure what it takes to run a business online. With all of the advantages of shopping online come a lot of responsibilities for the business owner. It takes a special sort of person to create a store that is accessible, effective, and popular.
- You need to be self-disciplined. Working for yourself, if you are not doing so already, takes a lot of self-motivation. Since you are the one that is calling the shots, you need to be ready and willing to make decisions that are best for your company, without any input. You also need to be ready to put in more hours than you might be putting in at a normal job, at first, anyway. This requires you be energetic and someone who can be their own boss.
- You need to have the right equipment. When you are setting up and running a store online, you need to have access to the best equipment possible. This will allow you to access your customers, as well as provide for their needs, even when you are not around. You will need a functioning website, a good web host, proper website design, and a strong shipping system.
- You need to understand your market. Of course, when you are starting any store, you need to know who your market is, what they want, and how you will be able to provide for them. When you do not do your initial research into your market, you may find that you spend a lot of energy without seeing the results you expected.
- You need to be ready for growth. Since online businesses are primed for growth right now, you need to be ready for this growth to occur. Whether this means you setup your business for a large burst of business at the beginning, or you simply plan ahead for more capacity, you need to always be ready to provide for a larger stream of customers.
An online business is hard work. Though once you have a system in place, it will be easier to run than a traditional store in some ways; how you begin your efforts will determine your long term success.
Skills You Need
Running an online business requires a number of valuable skills. Even though you might not possess all of these skills at the moment, you will want to cultivate these skills or hire others to help you along the way. Many of these skills can be self=taught, as well.
- Organization. Since you will be the one who will be running your business, it is essential that you become an organized person, if you are not one already. The more you can stay organized, the easier it will be to keep up with the needs of your customers.
- Basic Internet knowledge. Having a basic understanding of search engines and what works well on the Internet will allow you to be as effective as possible, as quickly as possible.
- Clear business plan. Just like any other business, it is a good idea to have a business plan that outlines what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and what you need in order to do it. Creating clear goals for your company will also keep you on track and form your business decisions.
- Communication skills. As you will be communicating not only with vendors, but also with customers, you need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. You also need to be able to listen and turn what you are hearing into action.
- Ability to engage. One of the things that online businesses also need to keep in mind is that engagement is essential in the virtual world. Since you might not get the chance to meet your customers face-to-face, you need to be able to engage them in a variety of ways, helping them see you as a person who wants to help them, not just sell to them.
- Expertise in your field. When your customers see you as an authority in your market, they are far more likely to buy from you. It is when you fail to show that you actually know what you are talking about that you might begin to lose customers as they cannot be confident in what you are saying.
- Passion and energy. While it might not seem important, the more passion and energy you have for your business, the more likely you will become a success. You need to show others that you are a person who truly believes in what they are doing and that you are someone who wants to inspire action.
You will find that the most important skills to have are passion and expertise. When you love what you do, you are excited to do it, even when things get tough. In addition, taking the time to learn all that you can about your market will allow your customers to see that you believe in what you do and that your recommendations are to be trusted.
Take time to read up on business topics and on your market to ensure that you are the authority and that you can confidently recommend your products to others.
Starting an Online Business from Scratch
If you do not already have a business, starting an online business from scratch can seem daunting, but there are four steps that you can take which will make things easier.
- Find your niche. The first thing you need to do is find the market that is interested in buying something from you. You can do this by looking at popular websites to see what is selling more than anything else. Also, look to see what items customers desire, but that are not yet available to the market.
- Build a site. Create a website that allows customers to learn about your products and to buy what you have to sell.
- Spread the word. Tell people what your business offers, and how it can help fulfill their needs.
- Deliver on your promises. With each transaction, make sure that you are delivering exactly what you promised, or that you deliver more than what you promised.
Starting an online business (or any business) from scratch is challenging. However, this guide will help you see what steps that you need to take, when you need to take them, and how to be as effective as possible right from the start.
When You are Still Working a Full Time Job
Of course, you might not necessarily want to start a business from scratch or quit your job to do so. Instead, you can still continue to work a full time job until you begin to see profits that could replace your other work.
What you will want to do in this case is to realize that you still need to follow the same steps you would for building an offline business, but you will have less time to devote to the work. This might cause your online business to grow more slowly.
In addition, you could look into seeking resources that can help you speed up your online business' success. By looking for freelancers to help with web copy writing, website design, and online store management, you can still work at your job and see your online business succeed.
Doing two jobs at once is hard, but it is certainly something that is possible.