The Internet Will Make or Break Your Small Business

websiteWhen it comes to startups, there is a very small chance of success. This is because most startups begin as small projects for a budding entrepreneur to gain experience. Perhaps the market is far too volatile to be a suitable first business, maybe the industry is already filled with trusted brands, or maybe there’s no market at all. Whatever the case, entrepreneurs can usually afford to start small businesses in an uncomfortable market so they can gain experience.

Sadly, this is also used as an excuse when a small business fails. Let’s face it, if your first idea was a great success then why would you ever close it down for the sake of restarting? Everyone wants to nail their first business and get a great start, so why do we fall back on these excuses when we’ve essentially failed a business? No matter how little experience you have, you should never go into a business without a plan. Not only is it irresponsible to all the employees and customers involved, it will also give you a bad reputation as a business person if you don’t shape up and start to put more effort into your new startups.

Where do startups fail?

One of the biggest reasons for startup failure is the fact there isn’t a market for their product. This is when research comes in handy, but it’s also when marketing comes into play as well. After all, if there’s no need for a product that you truly believe in, you need to get out there and show people why it’s such an amazing product.

Let’s use a recent example: the iPhone 7. Apple’s new flagship mobile phone is a hot seller and everyone’s going out to buy one, but let’s look beyond the surface and compare it to one of the most popular mid-range smartphones out there: the OnePlus 3T. For starters, they both sport a 5.5inch display and they both use comparable processors. However, that’s about where the similarities end. The OnePlus 3T is lighter, slightly smaller despite the same screen size, it has more RAM, it has dual 16-megapixel cameras, a larger battery, and costs about 50% of the price of an iPhone.

From a purely technical standpoint, you get more value for money if you bought the OnePlus 3T, so what exactly are you paying for and why does Apple charge twice the price of a mid-range smartphone with comparable if not better specifications? It’s all down to marketing and branding. As a large and well-known company, Apple can charge premiums for their devices purely from a branding perspective. The market is already bloated with smartphones and there are many choices that are superior to the iPhone in terms of technical specifications, so there is essentially no market for their product. However, they’re Apple and there is always going to be room in the market for a new Apple product.

This is where most startups fail. It’s true that there might not be a market for a product, but there’s a market for your brand and that’s where you need to focus. Assuming you bring something new or different to the table, you’re always going to have a spot and if you market your products or services correctly, you will never fail as a startup.

Getting noticed as the little guy

No one’s going to care about your company or its products if you’re a startup that has nothing to show. You need to get noticed, you need to do something to grab attention, and you have to stand out in a sea of generic startups that want to provide the same thing as you. In order to do this, you have to use the internet in a smart and cunning way.

There are many different ways to utilise the internet, so let’s go through a couple of those now.

Your website is your storefront

Because you don’t have a physical location, your website is going to act as your storefront. As such, it needs to be very high-quality, but this is usually something that business owners think they can’t achieve. They assume you need very expensive tools or costly freelancers in order to build something amazing and eye-catching, but that’s simply not true. It all comes down to what help you get and understanding how websites work.

For instance, Squarespace is a web host that provides an all-in-one solution for business owners and personal users. They can help you build any type of website using their online tools, and everything is based in the cloud so you can manage your website on a desktop computer, tablet or even a smartphone. It’s incredibly easy to use, it’s cheap, and it doesn’t require extensive knowledge of web design thanks to all of the templates you can use. One of the most useful things about using a service like Squarespace is that you automatically get a website that scales depending on the device you use. Making your website viewable even on small devices is important due to the variation of screen sizes that are used to browse the internet. If your users need to scroll across the screen just to see your entire website, then it’ll frustrate them to no end trying to find something.

If you aren’t focusing on your website as a major selling point and a way to connect with customers, then you need to make that change as soon as possible. Draw people in, have lots of information, maybe even start a blog so that you can keep customers in the loop about your latest products. You need to try your best to get people hooked on your ideas as soon as they click on your website.

Google is your friend

Google might be the world’s most well-known search engine and you might use it on a daily basis. However, have you ever thought about befriending Google and having them on your side? When you search different terms on Google, you usually get back a couple of different results based on the popularity of those websites. If you want Google to notice you and put you high on the search results so that people notice you, then you’re going to need to form a strong relationship with the search giant.

First of all, search engine optimisation is one of the most important aspects of drawing attention to your business. Sadly, finding an SEO consultant can be a challenge because they are typically very expensive. They offer turn-key solutions to make it easy to optimise your website, but they charge a lot of money which is something that your small business probably can’t afford. If you like to be more hands-on and want to learn about SEO yourself, then prepare to spend a lot of time studying how to promote a website and watching online courses to familiarise yourself with the concept. Thankfully, there are services like Website Rocket that offer SEO software that offer a midpoint between doing it yourself and hiring a consultant. It’s a fraction of the cost of hiring a consultant and it doesn’t take long to learn how to use it.

Social media is your other friend

Another platform of advertising that the internet offers is social media. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are some of the most popular social platforms that receive millions of hits every single day. This makes them one of the most lucrative online services to utilise in your promotional campaign. However, managing multiple social media accounts is difficult and most companies usually have dedicated teams to manage their social media needs. For instance, you might hire someone to look after the company Twitter account, posting messages and generally increasing awareness about your brand. They might also take pictures and show product footage on an image sharing social media site such as Instagram. There are many opportunities to take with social media, but it can get fairly expensive when you need to hire multiple employees or a marketing department to handle it.

Luckily, there is software such as Hootsuite that can take the stress out of social media management. You can monitor all of your accounts on a single dashboard and access each service with ease. It’s easy to engage users if you have access to every service within a single dashboard, and you can create messages that are automatically posted on each website. It even allows you to track data such as how many views and likes you’re getting, how much twitter engagement you’re getting and how many new followers you get with each post.

Social media allows your business to reach a wide audience, and the best thing about it is that anyone can succeed. You don’t need to be a well-known company in order to have a presence on social media, and in fact, many individuals have large followings that far exceed that of professional companies. As long as you have something to say and you’re interesting enough to follow, you’ll build an audience by simply having good social media management skills.

, , , , ,