The Internet makes our lives easier every day. In fact, it’s hard to imagine life before the Internet. It seems as if we live in two parallel worlds: a physical and a virtual one.
In fact, it is quite amazing to consider what happens on the Internet in a day. Today, for example, you may have already chatted with your friends on Facebook, looked up a recipe on how to bake a sweet potato, or signed up for a free class from an Ivy League university through the Massive Open Online Course program.
Make a Living Online
The Internet is also a great place to earn extra money or to set up your own full-time business from home.
With that in mind, here are 5 nifty tips to help you either set up or your own online business or improve the performance of an existing online business:
- Use an electronic signature for all your contracts.
According to CudaSign, you can cut out old technology like fax, scanners, and printers and use an electronic signature provider to cut your document turnaround time by as much as 90%.
Federal law recognizes electronic contracts as both legal and enforceable. As far as the law is concerned there is no difference between an electronic signature and a signature on paper. As a result, you can get legally-binding signatures from employees, business partners, or customers within seconds. Any Internet-based device will work. Think of how much faster it will be to get deals done and to preserve the environment. You can even conduct your business exclusively online to shave your operating costs. If you’re still unsure about the legal aspects of e-signatures, you can get more information from the website of the American Bar Association.
- Protect your customer’s privacy.
However, posting a notice about respecting your customer’s privacy rights is not enough. You also have to protect your website from hackers so that your customer’s information is not lost, stolen, misused, or changed. In addition, you have to ask that third parties you deal with like payment processors or fulfillment services also provide data security for your customer information.
Finally, you must never provide customer information to a third party unless you have your customer’s permission.
- Create an online presence.
While it is theoretically possible to run a business without a website through contacting customers via advertising and social media, it’s not a good business practice. It’s best to have a website, blog, and social media profiles. This will allow customers to get to know you better before doing business with you. It will help you differentiate your business from all the other fly-by-night operations online.
Your website should be attractive. It’s inexpensive to build a high quality website. You can either use a website builder and do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. If your website looks like it has been designed by your teenage nephew over a hurried weekend, then prospects will click away to do business with a more professional-looking website.
Think of it this way. Would you rather buy your groceries from a dilapidated store or from a modern supermarket? If you had a choice, you would prefer the supermarket because you are more likely to get a wider range of products at a more reasonable cost.
However, a website is often static and running a blog as well will help your business grow. A blog is not only an excellent way to build rapport with customers but is also an excellent way to get organic traffic through inbound marketing.
Finally, it’s advisable to develop a social media profile on popular platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google +. If you have the time and inclination, an Instagram account and a Pinterest board will also improve your business. While these are not necessary, they help customers to get to know you better.
- Develop an offline presence.
While you can run your business entirely online, it will help your small business if your overall marketing plan includes an offline presence for customer satisfaction as well. This does not necessitate a brick-and-mortar store or office. It’s more than enough to just create some marketing collateral, network, and use traditional advertising.
Your marketing collateral can consist of business cards, stationery, and brochures. Your networking can include joining organizations and visiting trade shows. And your traditional advertising can include classified ads in an industry magazine.
- Focus on relationships.
Ultimately all business is built on relationships. The right partners, suppliers, and customers can make all the difference to your business success.
Create virtual relationships by spending some time on social media or joining an online group related to your industry. Also develop offline relationships by joining meetups.com and attending business network meetings.
It’s Worth It
Setting up an online business is not easy, but it’s doable. Using these five tips, you can set things up in the right way or reconfigure your existing online business to be more profitable.