1. Are you prepared for change or reacting to it?
When was the last time you took a good long strategical look at your website? Is it really the best reflection of your business for today’s business landscape? If you constantly seem to feel that you’re behind the 8-ball when it comes to your website then it may be time to set a 3-5 year online strategy if you don’t have one or update your plan if you do. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is only for large businesses. If you want to grow your business, don’t make the mistake of always thinking like a small business. Online no one knows the size of your business, and frankly, if they can get what they need/want from you they usually don’t care how big you are.
If you have trouble creating and actioning an online strategy, there are business vendors that can assist at various levels to make sure your business gets the most from your plan. This can include assisting to develop the plan and taking action to put things in motion for your business and even report on and maintain those actions. Don’t be afraid to try new things in your strategy. With the online world being an ever-evolving environment a bit of research and testing can always work in your favour before outlaying a large investment.
2. Where are you going to find your next customer?
Many people make the mistake of putting it down to seasonal activity and look no further. When you set up an online business you don’t have to sit back and wait for people to ‘walk through the door’. Many businesses fall into the trap of only looking at their audience when they start a business and never think to go back and re-evaluate. You should always be looking to new potential when it comes to customer groups but many businesses fail to keep clean data about their customers so overtime they don’t understand why there may be a drop in sales. Simple datasets like cart abandonment rates can tell you so much about what a customer is doing that by addressing those issues alone can lead to sales increases of 200%-300%.
3. Are you doing all you can to increase your profits?
The internet is not a ‘build and they will come’ environment. This is because there is so much out there for people to consume that you really need to stand out in some way if you are going to draw visitors to your website. Online engagement and visibility are one of the critical aspects to increasing your online profits and this all ties into your online strategy. How often do you post online? How often do you answer queries and questions? What’s your market niche? Do people know what makes you better? How agile is your business? Do they understand your message? All these questions are things that can be included in your online action plans.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one aspect that can lead to increased online profits. However, many business owners expect a one-off ‘set and forget’ SEO plan to be successful. Unfortunately, we are not all so lucky as to have a viral boost to our campaigns, so a properly planned and executed SEO strategy must be something that given time and effort if you want it to be successful. A good SEO plan is not only about getting people to your website but also takes into account the structure of your website to allow people to easily complete the actions you want them to take when they get there. Just like you would plan the layout of a physical store, you must plan the layout of your website in line with your SEO to make it easy for people to complete a transaction of whatever you want them to do.
4. What’s your online game plan? (Game plan = 3-5 year proactive business strategy)
Firstly if you don’t have a game plan for your business, then create one. A game plan is critical to navigating the changeable online business climate. A good game plan will not only outlay what your business wants to achieve in the 3-5 years but also looks at what to do should any reliant business factors change such as local or international economic fluctuations.
You better have a long-term game plan or face the fact you may not be around in 5 years. One of the key things that a game plan lets you improve is your business’s risk appetite. You can’t avoid risk but you can help manage it with good planning. By adopting a forward-thinking mindset and leadership that helps prioritise strategic growth initiatives you help your business to communicate its value and gain buy-in from not only your employees but also your customers.
Be prepared to fail over and over as competing in the online world is not easy and anyone who tells you it is is plain out lying. Just like anything you do, it takes time and perseverance to grow into a successful online business. The only benefit of doing it online is that we can fail faster and we can get results to learn from faster. For example 20 years ago if we were to run a print campaign we would have to wait weeks and months to see how many enquiries there were in order to see how successful the campaign was. Comparing that to today’s online world, we can have a Facebook campaign ready and be running in 5 minutes, run it for 24 hours and instantly have an abundance of data from clicks to demographics and so on. Even though the process is faster, it doesn’t guarantee success but if you are willing to grow with the results and learn from the data you collect you’ll definitely be leading your business in the right direction.
5. Do you have a service that you can turn into a product?
As long as your exchanging your time for money the amount you can make will always be limited. However, what if you could turn your service into a product? Now I know not everything can follow this principle but if you find that you’re doing something over and over its more than likely that you can turn it into a product of some form. Now you may ask, why would you want to do that? Well, a product is something that can be sold 24/7 and you don’t need to exchange your time for it. Here’s an example. Say I was a personal trainer and part of my service was to develop a training and or diet plan. After a few years in the game, I notice that most of the plans I create for my clients from weight loss to strength gain is the same. So I decided to make a few products that incorporate the most common aspects and sell them as products on my website. I create 4 different meals plans depending on whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, gain strength etc, and I do the same with my training plans. I now have some products that customer can purchase on my website regardless of day and time. Also to an added benefit, I may find that through the products I get more customers enquiring for personal training or that my products become a good way to draw people to my business.
So there you go, 5 tips to hopefully help you unlock hidden value in your business. Never forget that it’s not easy doing good business online. Perseverance is one of the keys so when you get knocked down one way or another get back up and keep trying. Never give up.