In this article, we’re going to look at the key steps in starting your online business, and how to take advantage of this year’s Black Friday hosting deals to do so.
During Black Friday, businesses from all industries welcome the holiday season by offering incredible one-time deals. While Black Friday is a great occasion to buy presents for your loved ones, it may also be an opportunity to start (or grow) your business.
Business service providers often use Black Friday to attract new customers through hefty discounts. You’re likely to find everything from Black Friday hosting deals to discounted subscriptions for SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms. This season may be the best time to assemble the toolkit that will help you start your digital business — or take your existing business online.
In this post, we’ll give you some tips to embark on either of these journeys: Starting an online business or adapting an existing one to the online world.
How to Start an Online Business
The prospect of starting an online business may seem a little overwhelming. At the end of the day, your hesitations aren’t unfounded. Digital markets are saturated. You’ll have competitors from all around the globe, some of whom will have far lower fixed costs than yours, and therefore will be able to provide impossibly low prices. And, of course, with so much competition out there, consumers have never been so demanding.
But all these challenges can be overcome with the right strategy. Before you ever start investing in marketing automation tools or looking for Black Friday hosting deals, you’ll need to have a clear notion of how your business will work.
You’ll have higher chances of succeeding if you set up your business around a product or service you’re an expert in. Are you a dermatologist? Why not sell a professionally curated selection of skincare products? Are you a financial advisor? Why not start an online coaching practice?
Understanding the product or service is vital, as well as understanding what your competitive advantages and disadvantages are. Just like when you’re starting a regular offline business, you’ll need to get a feel of your competitors, what they’re doing to attract customers, and where their products may be falling short. What can you offer that others don’t?
Especially if you’ve never run a business before, you may find tools like the Lean Business Model Canvas extremely helpful. The Lean Business Model Canvas is an updated version of Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas. It’s a framework that invites you to ask yourself certain key questions about how your business would work. It’s often presented as a table (literally, a canvas) that you have to fill up. But here it is in the form of a series of questions:
- Problem — Which problem is your business trying to solve?
- Existing alternatives — How is this problem being solved today?
- Customer segments — Who is experiencing this problem?
- Early adopters — Who is most likely to adopt your solution first? Why?
- Unique value proposition — Explain what makes you different in concise, brief, and evocative terms.
- High-level concept — An elevator pitch, an analogy. For instance, “Youtube = Flickr for Videos”.
- Solution — How would you solve your customer’s problem?
- Channels — Which communication channels would you use to reach out to your customer?
- Revenue streams — How would your business make money?
- Cost structure — Which would be your fixed and variable costs?
- Key metrics — How would you measure success?
Other areas that you’ll need to research are tax-related regulation, licenses, and permits (if applicable), shipping restrictions (in the case of the hypothetical dermatologist, for instance), and business insurance.
A final note on relevant regulation: Don’t forget about privacy protection. Make sure that you set up your website with a hosting provider that offers SSL certificates and other security measures. Choosing a reputable hosting services provider and investing in a security certificate is the least you can do to ensure that your clients’ information is handled safely.
How to Take an Existing Business Online
There are numerous reasons why you should take your business online. The shift in consumer behavior consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures accelerated the adoption of eCommerce significantly. Businesses with a strategic online presence proved themselves better equipped to accommodate customer demands and continue operating without hurting their bottom line.
There are two essential assets that will drive your online success: A vibrant, relevant, and active social media presence; and a beautiful and functional website.
During your first weeks of paying attention to your business’ social media, you’ll probably come to a realization: It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Social media is a great channel to directly communicate with your clients, and you can’t waste that away by automating or neglecting DMs. But you can plan your posts and stories ahead of time, with a social media automation tool like Hootsuite or Buffer.
But, who will design all this social media content? Will you need a lofty graphic design budget? Let’s say you’re on Instagram and want to hop on the trend of making reels. Will you have to hire a video editor? Not necessarily. You can take design and video creation into your own hands, with tools like Adobe Spark, Canva, or Visme. Their beginner-friendly interfaces and AI-generated template make them the perfect design assistants for small business owners.
As your digital marketing efforts progress and you become accustomed to this new way of working, you’ll probably want to level-up your game. At this stage, you may want to try your hand at other types of digital marketing strategies. For instance, you may want to start implementing email marketing, sending your customers interesting content, and exclusive discount codes. In that case, an email marketing solution for small businesses, such as Mailchimp, will make a world of difference.
Of course, you can also seize this season’s deals as an opportunity to invest in tools to make the everyday activities of managing your business easier, from accounting solutions (such as Freshbooks or Xero) to time-tracking platforms, such as Hubstaff or Toggl Tracker.
When going digital, don’t forget to take advantage of what makes you unique. Small businesses have the chance to be authentic, hyper-local, and approachable. Fully embracing your business’ identity can translate into a digital brand that’s unique and engaging. And it can also help you target your marketing efforts. Plan ads at a local scale, use tools like Google My Business to appear on local searches, and create a website tailored to your customers’ needs.
Taking your small business online may seem overwhelming. If you need some guidance, Google Digital Garage offers free crash courses for small business owners who want to learn the basics of going digital.
How to Make the Most Out of Black Friday Hosting Deals
While social media management requires some expertise — and, as we explained above, time — handling your business’ social media presence may be the least daunting aspect of doing business online.
Many people think that setting up a website is an expensive process that’s inaccessible for those without a degree in software engineering. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, most small business websites are built with very beginner-friendly tools, such as WordPress. One of the features that make WordPress accessible (and versatile) is the existence of themes. Think of themes as the foundation you’ll use for your website’s design. Themes and design plugins will allow you to create your website’s visuals without writing a single line of code.
If you’d like to take advantage of the power and ease of use of this extremely popular tool, be on the lookout for a Black Friday WordPress Hosting discount. WordPress hosting services give you the possibility of building your website on a server optimized for WordPress. Your WordPress hosting plan will probably come with WordPress pre-installed, as well as some performance-enhancing plugins.