Small businesses are the backbone of society and culture, bringing more value and quality than mega businesses often do. This can also be true for small online businesses specializing in smaller segments of the economy, curating services, and products for their audiences who continue to seek new ways to support their favorite small online brands.
If you’ve been thinking of opening your own online business, you’ll usually find yourself starting small but with the hopes of expanding. This often involves a learn-as-you-go process as there is no cookie-cutter formula for every business out there to follow. However, many valuable tips ring true to all for you to follow.
In this article by Ecommerce Pro, we are giving you 8 small online business tips to help empower you to make the best decisions for your small online business early on.
1. Simplify Your Process
Starting a new, small online business can be overwhelming, especially if you allow yourself to run with your idea and come up with an overcomplicated concept. New business owners should allow themselves to start small but with a laser-sharp focus, creating for their brand a simple product and service. Having a targeted approach will not only help you meet your customer's expectations, it will help you exceed them.
Start by eliminating all of the unnecessary frills that may water down your offerings and eat at your business’s budget. While it's easy to compare yourselves to industry giants, you don’t need all the bells and whistles when you start. These can be added to your process later as you grow and gain more traction as a business.
2. Stay Organized
The most important keystone to the success of your small business is mastering organization and learning how to manage all the resources available to you—including time. Time is a resource that all entrepreneurs need to learn how to manage efficiently and one of the best ways to do this is by writing your to-do list that takes on the tasks that demand your attention, prioritizing them based on peak hours of your productivity. Aside from trusty notepads, you can also try apps like Asana to help you get organized and mark top-priority tasks.
Make sure to plan for tomorrow as early as today, crafting your to-do lists the night before and establishing a consistent schedule or routine with clearly defined work hours, so that your life and business stay structured and organized.
3. Count the Cost
When you start a business, it's important to stay on top of every single expense. If you're on the cusp of starting a business, it's imperative to create a detailed budget that factors in expenses like startup costs, marketing efforts, and ongoing operational overhead costs. Think of it as a financial roadmap that will help you navigate the financial landscape of your venture, a map that will help you make informed decisions on how you need to spend your budget.
Counting the cost also serves to keep you grounded, allowing you to set some realistic expectations while also placing you in a better position to understand the strategic financial choices you need to make to help you meet your business goals. Counting the costs will also help you understand whether you need to take out a small loan for your business.
In the world of entrepreneurship, a well-calculated approach with an eye on the budget is often the key to long-term success.
4. Build a Brand
Many new online businesses miss the mark when it comes to their branding. This is because they underestimate the power of building a brand. When it comes down to it, building a brand helps you stand out.
When you start an online business, you are starting a business in what will usually be a highly competitive market. Chances are somebody else is selling the same products as you, and branding is what will make your business unique and different from the rest. Good branding will help you stand out in the minds of your consumers, because your story, your vision, and what you stand for are unique and tailored to appeal to the aspirations, ambitions, and desires of your target demographic. If you can define what you do in such a way that appeals to and relates to your consumers, then they will be more likely to make purchases from your shop. For instance, there are countless athleisure stores online today, but successful brands stand out from the crowd primarily because of strong branding efforts that cause their target market to “buy the brand” as much as the product.
5. Stay Current with Marketing Trends
For new online businesses, mastering the art of gaining online traffic is a big hurdle, but what this all comes down to is marketing and staying on top of all the new marketing trends and playing a proactive role in promoting your store to acquire those customers.
In 2023, staying current with marketing trends means taking on a multi-channel approach, embracing social media, SEO, video marketing, and even paid ads. What’s important is that you pinpoint the channels that are most likely to reach your target market, whether they are on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram Reels, and create content that will help users learn to recognize your brand and click through to your links.
We cover current marketing trends in our article How To Drive Traffic to Your Shopify Website (2023).
6. Streamline With Automation
Harnessing automation can be a game-changer for small businesses. If you could automate certain aspects of business, you’ll not only up your efficiency, but you’ll also free yourself up for more tasks. Whether you've just connected with a potential customer at a networking event or are managing your daily bookkeeping tasks, automating those day-to-day processes can save you time and enhance your overall productivity.
You can effortlessly stay in touch with customers with a CRM tool to automatically send scheduled messages or instantly reach out to online store visitors through AI chat, a great way to implement round-the-clock customer support. When you embrace automation, you're not only making business easy for yourself but also enhancing customer experiences.
Read our article on the 10 Best Shopify Apps to Help Your Ecommerce Store Grow, featuring apps that will help you run a more efficient online business.
7. Add a Personal Touch
It's important to keep in mind that one of the main reasons customers love supporting new and small businesses is that smaller businesses often lend a more personal touch to their transactions.
Going the extra mile with small personal touches can help you foster the kind of brand-to-customer relationships that will set you apart in a world of impersonal brand transactions. Consider making hand-crafted gestures like sending handwritten thank-you notes or adding a small gift included with their purchase. This will boost customer satisfaction, encouraging customers to shop again and promote your brand by word of mouth or on social media.
Moreover, you can use a CRM tool to gather and remember personal information about your customers, allowing you to provide high-touch personalizations for events like their birthdays.
8. Invest in a Great Website
When you build an online business, it almost goes without saying that you need to invest in a great online store, one that is professional, up-to-date with ecommerce trends, and offers customers a frictionless experience from the homepage to the checkout.
Your online store needs to be well-designed, user-friendly, and optimized for a seamless transition that is free of road bumps. Moreover, your site needs to be optimized for search engines, which you may need professional help with.
You must also take into consideration product photography, and things like seamless branding, all of which may need an investment in professional expertise. By investing in a great ecommerce website, you're creating the very foundation and virtual storefront for your online business, boosting its credibility, and making it more attractive to your target audience.
Read our guide on Hiring a Shopify Expert Agency (2023).
There you have it, we’ve given you 8 tips for small online businesses.
While starting a small business can be intimidating, especially in the face of bigger brands, it's important to take note of the advantage that you have in providing value and quality that goes beyond what larger corporations can offer.
While starting your small online business is a journey that usually begins with a modest start, you have everything to gain if you take it one step at a time. Remember that, while there's no one-size-fits-all formula for success, there are valuable tips to guide your path. These tips include the importance of keeping it simple, effective organization, financial planning, branding, staying updated with marketing trends, embracing automation, personalizing customer interactions, and investing in a great ecommerce website.
By incorporating some of these tips, you can lay a solid foundation for growth and build meaningful customer relationships that last.
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At Ecommerce Pro - Shopify Experts Agency, we help entrepreneurs and business owners build better and more successful Shopify businesses. Have a question or a project in mind? Get in touch with us today!