“Don’t wait for the right time to start a business. It never arrives. Start Now.”
Looking at starting an online business can seem like staring in to a dark deep canyon, or being in charge of a Boeing 747 mid-flight. What to do; where to start and ever looking for the instruction manual that will tell you exactly what to do. Chances are you have spent a lot of frustrating time online looking for that very same instruction manual. You’re not alone. With the billions of webpages on the subject of starting a business online you would think an instruction manual giving you step by step instructions wouldn’t be too hard to come by, right? Wrong!
So why is it so difficult. I have spent time and a lot of thought pondering over this very question. So I made it a mission to try and accomplish that very feat. Armed with twenty years knowledge, a good night’s sleep, a can of red bull and a cheese toastie I write this article.
Now, my first disclaimer (yes a disclaimer of content before I have even started writing!) simply explains that every business is different. If you are reading this I can only assume you live in Bexhill or perhaps nearby Hastings, Eastbourne or around East Sussex. So geographically it would be easy to write about starting a website or business in Bexhill. But starting an online business in each and town and county can be different. Different towns and different locations may have a different audience, demographics, wants and interests etc… Throughout this article I’ll reference Bexhill and East Sussex but will try to keep as general as possible.
Here is my instruction and guide to starting a website or business. I’ll keep it brief, and as much to the point as I can:
1 – Web Designer or look at a DIY solution:
There’s no easy solution here. The first step is to decide whether you are hands on and can spend some time learning how to build your own website using online builders such as WordPress, or if you would like someone to take care of everything for you.
A web designer needs to be able to understand your business idea or the business you’d like to take online. They can help provide suggestions, plus guide you at each step in the process. Now did we say we’re web designers 🙂 …. on a serious note if we can help you with any questions, provide some guidance or just give you some more information about the process please feel free to get in touch
2 – A website name (a.k.a Domain Name) and Hosting:
This can be a tricky subject to understand but I will try and keep as simple and as straight forward as I can. Having a website is great but you need a name (domain) and a server to store your website on (hosting).
A Domain Name is simply the name of the website. For example Google.co.uk , Amazon.co.uk or BexhillWebsiteDesign.co.uk etc… Your web design company can normally take care of this for you. It’s just a case of choosing one, and making sure it’s available (a domain name can only be owned by, and used by, one company or person). It’s unique. Your website name generally is your company name or brand but can also something that explains what you do. The Amazon.co.uk website name itself doesn’t really tell you what they do or what they sell, it’s a brand name. BexhillWebsiteDesign.co.uk not only is our company name but instantly explains what we do and is more memorable.
Hosting on the other hand is a little different. With your brand spanking new website, and sparkling domain name you need somewhere to store your website. A website can’t be stored on your own computer or laptop, it needs to be stored on a special server always connected to the internet. To buy a server would cost in thousands of pounds but luckily there are companies who have servers and rent hosting space. You rent the space, upload your website to that space and point your website name to it. It sounds very complicated but it works quite seamlessly. Again this is something your web designer can completely take care of.
As a price guide we can offer you a domain name and hosting from as little as £10 per month, and we can not only build your website but also take care of the domain name, hosting and have your website all launched and ready to go on the internet.
3 – Online Promotion: The Early Days
A brand new website sitting online ready to go is such an amazing feeling. The business you thought about, even dreamed about, is now live. It could be one of the biggest opportunities of your life, and the doorway to something very exciting. The trouble is no-one knows it’s there. Unfortunately just because your website is there it doesn’t mean it will instantly be found by lots of people. You have to promote your new website to your existing and potential new customers.
There are lots of ways to do this, and this can depend on your business but here are a few ideas to get you started with some links:
- Adwords campaign on Google Adwords – beware though of very high costs per click. This is something we can help with;
- Facebook and social promotion – create social media pages, add great content your visitors would want to read and promote on local groups. Facebook also offers paid for advertising to give you a boost;
- If you have a store in Bexhill or East Sussex (or any other town for that matter!) hand out leaflets to your customers and let them know of your new website;
- Collect email addresses from existing customers and let them know (in a non spammy way of course) of your website;
- Local magazines or newspapers (such as Friday-Ad in Bexhill);
- Pinterest and Instagram are great ideas if your business has a very visual element to it (creative, crafts etc…)
4 – Search Engine Optimisation (a.k.a. SEO)
The art of SEO has changed drastically over recent years. When I was optimising websites 12 years ago although it wasn’t necessarily easier it was different. The secrets were keyword optimisation, having the most relevant EMD (Exact Match Domain), great title tags, as many filler pages as possible and backlinks in quantity, quantity and more quantity!
Today your website is only part of your search engine position. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have one purpose – answer the question given to it by their visitor with the best result. If a visitor searches on Google for Flower Delivery in Bexhill (for example) it’s the search engine’s mission to answer that question as accurately as it can. Let’s break that down.
Let’s say (and I’m not going to use real numbers here) that there are 20 florists in and around Bexhill, that all have websites. How would the search engines decide who should be at the top, or in the top three positions (where 80% of searchers click). The search engines know all 20 could delivery flowers but they want to provide the best results. Here are some of the factors:
- How popular the florist is by social media mentions and likes;
- How many reputable other websites link to (therefore endorse) those florists;
- Are their websites updated regularly, or do they look out of date. The search engine’s preference can be based on whether they feel the website is looked after;
- Can the website be viewed on mobile phones and tablets (responsive). If the visitor is searching on a mobile phone or tablet, search engines may decide not to show unresponsive sites in it’s listings and therefore you could lose out on a lot of potential customers considering 50% of all searches happen on mobile devices;
- There are many other ranking factors;
There isn’t one size fits all. The more competitive a search term (keyword) the harder you will have to work to rank for it. With the right keyword research it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an ocean. Start on smaller keywords and grow as your business does. It’s certainly provides better results.
If you need help or have questions regarding search engine optimisation for your website or business then get in touch
It really isn’t as daunting as it initially seems. As with any challenge it will be tough at times. There will be learning involved and at times there will be a few eggs to be broken. Mistakes are ok, and can be learned from but the by far the worst decision will be one of no action.
Follow these four steps and you will be on your way to a profitable new online business! 🙂