Setting up an online business can be a complex task with many aspects. To shed light on this, we asked fifteen CEOs, Founders, and other industry leaders about the most frequently overlooked aspects. From securing your online payment gateway to considering marketing expenses upfront, here are the insights they shared.
- Secure Your Online Payment Gateway
- Invest in Building a Trustworthy Brand
- Prioritize Your Website’s Technical Foundations
- Don’t Forget Self-Care Amidst the Hustle
- Focus on Customer Retention Strategy
- Ensure Legal Compliance from the Start
- Define Your Target Audience Clearly
- Manage Customer Trust Effectively
- Pay Attention to User Experience and Design
- Establish a Smooth End-to-End Buyer’s Journey
- Implement a Robust Content Delivery Network
- Diversify Your Revenue Streams
- Invest in Robust Cybersecurity Measures
- Prepare for Business Continuity
- Consider Marketing Expenses Upfront
1. Secure Your Online Payment Gateway
My company primarily serves international clients, so the business workflow happens fully online. During this journey, I’ve noticed one thing that’s frequently overlooked when setting up an online business: a secure online payment gateway.
I think that every business should have a payment gateway on their websites. It’s a technology that facilitates secure online transactions by encrypting sensitive customer data, such as credit card numbers, and allowing payments. This tool makes your payment process simple, stress-free, and hassle-free.
2. Invest in Building a Trustworthy Brand
When I launched my job board, I was product-focused and spent most of my time building the platform and signing partnerships. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that all this effort was for nothing if I didn’t build a recognizable and trustworthy brand.
I highly recommend new entrepreneurs not repeat the mistakes I have made and spend some time, in the beginning, thinking about a consistent color palette, an eye-catching logo, and a clear and compelling brand message. Trust me; you don’t want to spend hours recoloring blog post illustrations and redesigning your entire website one year into your journey.
3. Prioritize Your Website’s Technical Foundations
I wish someone had told me not to overlook my website’s technical foundations when I launched my first online business over ten years ago!
From day one, I learned that investing in a quality platform, hosting, and CMS is crucial. As a laptop and tablet reviews website owner, I saw firsthand how site speed issues cost sales. Visitors would bail before buying anything if pages took too long to load.
It was endlessly frustrating to watch potential commissions disappear because of technical difficulties. Don’t make my mistakes—take the time to optimize site speed, find reliable hosting, set up backups, and implement robust security from the start.
Doing this upfront will prevent headaches as your business grows, allowing you to focus on revenue-driving activities later.
4. Don’t Forget Self-Care Amidst the Hustle
One of the most overlooked aspects when setting up an online business is taking care of oneself. Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of launching a new business is easy, but it’s important not to forget about self-care.
If one doesn’t take time to eat right, sleep well, and make time for fun activities, it’s hard to stay productive. This lesson was learned firsthand! Ignoring one’s body’s needs until literally falling asleep standing up at a desk is not sustainable.
Eventually, if one doesn’t make time for oneself, keeping up with all the business demands is impossible—and then nothing gets done!
5. Focus on Customer Retention Strategy
One often overlooked aspect when setting up an online business is customer retention. Everyone’s so focused on acquiring new customers that they forget it’s cheaper and more effective to keep the ones they already have.
In my 13 years running FlyNumber, I’ve found that a little attention to customer service goes a long way. It’s not just about resolving issues; it’s about building relationships. Trust me, a satisfied customer is your best marketing tool.
6. Ensure Legal Compliance from the Start
An overlooked aspect when setting up an online business is legal compliance. As a business lawyer, I often see new business owners who cannot consider the implications of how their business operates regarding laws and regulations.
Failure to comply with applicable laws can cause costly fines and penalties. Online business owners need to understand their legal obligations and the potential risks of non-compliance.
7. Define Your Target Audience Clearly
Starting an online business is an exciting journey. At ZenMaid, it’s crucial to know who your audience is. It’s tempting to think the ideal customer is “everyone,” but honing in on a niche was a game-changer. This small, often-overlooked step helped tailor efforts, making marketing strategies more direct and impactful.
Here’s a tip: Don’t overlook defining your audience. It’s less about reaching everyone and connecting with the right ones. This simple action, integrating your audience into your business plan, especially if investors are involved, is vital. It’s a seemingly small step, but it makes a significant difference in standing out from the competition.
8. Manage Customer Trust Effectively
One overlooked aspect is customer trust management. It is the foundation of any online business, yet entrepreneurs ignore it.
Suppose you can successfully make your customers trust your brand. In that case, you have built strong confidence that your business can deliver on its promise without failing them.
This aspect is very challenging because online conversations lack the physical presence that helps foster a sense of trust. Therefore, business owners must devise other means to build trust.
These other means can be through:
– Having a professional website. There needs to be more opportunities online to make a first impression. You can achieve this by having a professional website with clearly described products and an easy-to-understand policy.
– Security. Using safe payment gateways like Square or Stripe, you must implement strong cybersecurity measures.
Ergo, it’s imperative to remember that trust is the currency that buys consumer loyalty.
9. Pay Attention to User Experience and Design
While setting up an online business, one overlooked aspect is carefully thinking through the user experience and design. When I started my online Japanese learning business, I focused on the website structure and the complete process.
I ensured the website would be easy for customers to use and navigate—so they don’t give up on their learning journey before they start. It’s also essential that your site is attractive and aesthetically pleasing so your users feel comfortable spending time on it.
10. Establish a Smooth End-to-End Buyer’s Journey
One aspect new online businesses often overlook is setting up a clear and smooth end-to-end buyer’s journey for prospective customers. This means defining a clear roadmap for the customer from when they arrive on the website until they complete their purchase.
It’s not enough to define this process but also to test it thoroughly through different scenarios to ensure it runs without hiccups from end to end.
It’s not uncommon for e-commerce startups to miss out on these details, which leads to a poor shopping experience for the users, who then end up abandoning carts and leaving the website for good.
Bad user experience is a big turn-off for potential buyers and a major reason they don’t proceed to the next stage.
So, e-commerce startups should remember to create a positive impression on first-time customers, ensuring a seamless flow from browsing, filtering, and sorting products to making payments and tracking orders.
11. Implement a Robust Content Delivery Network
In Information Technology, one crucial yet frequently overlooked aspect of launching an online business is the meticulous implementation of a robust Content Delivery Network (CDN).
This infrastructure speeds up website loading times and enhances scalability, ensuring seamless user experiences even during traffic spikes. Investing in a CDN aligns with the ethos of TechAhead’s commitment to cutting-edge solutions for its global clientele.
This strategic approach exemplifies TechAhead’s prowess in digital transformation, solidifying their position as industry leaders in the dynamic digital landscape.
12. Diversify Your Revenue Streams
After 20 years of steering an online business, diversifying revenue streams is crucial but often overlooked. Many e-commerce businesses rely heavily on a single channel for sales—be it their website or a third-party platform like Amazon.
Expanding into different sales channels—marketplaces, social media platforms, or even offline pop-up shops—is like casting multiple nets.
You’re not left high and dry if one area faces issues, be it algorithm changes, competition, or seasonal downturns. For example, do you have a strategy for mobile customers, an ever-growing segment? Or have you considered subscription models for products that people buy regularly?
A diversified approach can act like a financial cushion, absorbing any sudden bumps in your business journey and ensuring you progress smoothly.
13. Invest in Robust Cybersecurity Measures
One frequently overlooked aspect when setting up an online business is the importance of robust cybersecurity measures. Many entrepreneurs focus on building their website, marketing, and sales strategies but neglect to protect their digital assets adequately.
Investing in cybersecurity from the start is crucial. Implement strong encryption, regularly update software and plugins, and use secure payment gateways. Educate yourself and your team about phishing, malware, and social engineering threats.
Prioritize data privacy and compliance with regulations like GDPR or CCPA, depending on your target audience. Failing to address cybersecurity can cause data breaches, legal issues, and damage to your reputation, which can be costly to rectify. Protecting your online business from cyber threats should be a top priority.
14. Prepare for Business Continuity
One frequently overlooked aspect when setting up an online business is business continuity. In the fervor of the digital age, disruptions can be manifold, ranging from cyberattacks to unexpected server outages. While many entrepreneurs prioritize product development, marketing, and sales, the essentiality of preparing for unforeseen disruptions often gets overshadowed.
Cyber threats are undeniably on the rise. A 2020 report highlights that cyberattacks surged by nearly 600% because of the pandemic. This starkly underscores the need for a solid defense mechanism against looming cyber threats. A sudden server outage doesn’t just translate to lost sales; it erodes customer trust. Herein lies the value of a business continuity plan, ensuring minimal downtime and reinforcing operational stability.
However, the implications are not merely operational. The financial aftermath of recovering from a disruption can be daunting.
15. Consider Marketing Expenses Upfront
When setting up an online business, marketing expenses are commonly overlooked. Potential customers need to notice the products and services offered to generate enough customers to create significant revenue.
An approach that could be taken is creating a physical presence through advertising materials such as flyers or brochures. By doing so, you’ll be able to reach people who may not have access to the internet but could still benefit from your product or service offering.
This physical approach can increase overall trustworthiness for the customer as they engage directly with someone associated with the company. Depending on your target demographic, engaging in small-scale media campaigns through radio or television advertisements can also help introduce your business proposition and bring in new leads for future sales opportunities.
Some Additional Thoughts
- Optimize for Mobile: With more people browsing and shopping from their smartphones, having a mobile-responsive website isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential.
- Automate Where Possible: Routine tasks can eat into your time. Implementing automation for email marketing, customer relationship management, and inventory updates can save time for more pressing issues.
- Sustainability Plans: It’s not just a buzzword. A sustainable business model isn’t just good for the planet; it can also be a unique selling proposition that attracts a more conscious consumer base.
- Invest in Analytics: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Regularly monitor website traffic, sales metrics, and other key performance indicators to adapt strategies and make data-driven decisions.
- Seasonal Strategies: Don’t underestimate the power of holidays and seasons on consumer behavior. A strategy for Black Friday, Christmas, or even smaller holidays can boost your revenue.
Tips for Getting Started
- Start Small, Think Big: No need to do everything at once. Prioritize your most critical tasks and focus on them.
- Budget Wisely: Don’t just consider the initial setup costs. Remember operational expenses and allocate funds for unexpected hiccups.
- Don’t Go It Alone: Gather a small team or even a co-founder if possible. Brainstorming, sharing responsibilities, and sustaining motivation is easier when you’re not alone.
Covering these bases will give you a much-needed edge in a sea of countless online businesses. Trust me, ticking off these items individually will add up to a more stable, profitable, and enjoyable business journey. Cheers to your venture and the exciting road ahead! ????