Entrepreneur Magazine is an excellent place for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to get information and insight from other people, many of whom have themselves been through the situations on which the reader needs guidance. So when an article in such a publication says that “There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online,” it’s worth paying attention to. The seven steps they list are as follows.
Find a need and fill it – “Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.” I think this problem is well articulated here. It is the market that dictates product and not vice versa. Sure, products can be branded and marketed, but these have the most effect when done within the context of what people already want or need.
Write copy that sells – Though the desires of your market will lead you to understanding the problems that need to be solved, you still need to articulate these problems and your proposed solution clearly. This is important for direct customer or client outreach, and for pitching your company to potential investors.
Design and build your website – There’s a line new business owners need to walk when designing their websites. It’s important to grab someone’s attention, but it is also good to keep it simple and direct, so find the happy medium.
Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site – The article suggests starting out with pay per click advertising. While this may be useful especially early on for becoming visible in search engines, it’s probably also a good idea to get started with organic SEO as early as possible.
Establish an expert reputation for yourself – Presumably, as the person trying to solve a problem you are at least somewhat of an expert in it, having researched and experimented in your field more than most. Produce content from what you know. This will both spread your message and position you as a trusted voice.
Use email marketing – “When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them e-mail.” Now you don’t have to spam hundreds of thousands of people. You have a targeted group of warm leads to approach.
Increase income through back-end sales and upselling – Follow up with customers. It is much more difficult to close a new sale than to get a previous customer or client to come on board again.
The article linked to above is chock full of even more great information, so I recommend taking a look.