Jinger Jarrett | 15 Dec, 2009
Starting a small business can be overwhelming if you've never done it before. You need a wide variety of skills for setting up and marketing your new business, especially if you choose to market online.
Before you get started though, there are several things you might want to consider. By setting a firm foundation for your business before you build it, you're more likely to see success.
1. Find the focus of your business
This is a primary mistake I see many small businesses make because many haven't taken the time to really decide what is most important in their businesses. This includes determining who your customers are, what your goals are in starting a business, and what you're trying to sell. You may also want to consider the value of your product or service for your target market, as well as how much competition you face. Although competition is good for your business, if you choose the wrong market, or you choose one that's too competitive, like travel, you may find yourself having trouble connecting with your market at all.
The lifeblood of any business is your customers, and if you fail to connect with them, or you fail to offer an appropriate solution to their problems, you can find yourself out of business fast. Focus on the tasks in your business that will help you reach your goals and don't waste time on things that won't grow your business.
2. Know the value of your business
Price is an important issue in business, but it's not the only factor. Quality, as well as providing an appropriate solution for your customers is also important. Use what your business offers to appropriately market your business, and consider the value of your product when pricing.
If you offer physical products, the cost of making, marketing, and distributing your products is an issue. You want to make sure you correctly mark up the price of your product so that not only is it a fair price, but you also cover the cost of making your products. You should consider this BEFORE making your product.
3. Become the best in your industry
It's not enough to know a lot about your product or service. You want to become the expert in your field. This will bring customers to you. The way to do this is to know as much as possible about your topic, which means constant educating yourself on the latest information in your industry. You also want to provide stellar customer service. This means going the extra mile to make sure your customers are satisfied with the purchases they make. Build value into your products or services and strive for constant improvement. Word travels fast on the internet, and you want others to say positive things about your business.
4. Emphasize customer care
There are many ways to do this. Providing FAQs not only helps you because it keeps you from answering the same questions over and over, but it also offers your customers additional information on your products.
Answering support tickets promptly, as well as issuing refunds quickly when necessary gives your business a more professional appearance, but it also shows that you are attentive to your customers' needs. The secret to a well run customer system is to automate your systems as much as possible, especially if you sell digital products. The way to do this is to sell your products through systems that allow you to automate the sales process so the customer is immediately taken to the product. If you sell physical products, then you'll need to process orders as quickly as possible. Just make sure you have a system in place.
Personalize your communications with customers, as well as your readers. Using autoresponders can help with this, as well as writing conversational messages that are easy to understand.
5. Design an effective marketing strategy for your business
Although I believe that every free internet marketing technique will work for every business, we're all different, and there may be certain techniques you are more comfortable doing when first starting out.
Design your marketing plan ahead of time, select the appropriate techniques to try, and then test and track those techniques to get the results you want.
* Jinger Jarrett is a freelance writer and author of the book 'Internet Marketing for Free: The Guide'.
* The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of SME Times.