Starting a business, sowing its seeds, all starts with an idea. Whether original, tried and tested, or an evolution of something familiar, this is your point of take-off. It is the steps you take beyond this point, that present the challenge of turning that idea into reality. Part of that process is the journey businesses take to go online.
Consider that today, 86% of adults are using the internet in the UK, spending almost three hours online actively each day, consuming and browsing for information, discovering products and services that will meet their needs, some of which they may not even be aware of yet. While the benefits of having an online presence, however big or small, are evident for many purely by virtue of connecting with this audience, the path to turning this into a reality can be daunting.
Time, Knowledge and Relevance
A 2015 Redshift Research study commissioned by GoDaddy found that almost 30% of very small businesses in the UK did not have any form of an online presence, while 60% had no website to represent their business. But why?
There is a common perception that a website won’t help their business or that they are too small to have one, cutting them off from the opportunity of reaching the online population. This is coupled with time and financial investment concerns, along with a lack of technical knowledge to feel capable of achieving success on this journey to embracing digital.
Let’s look at a real life example: just recently I had the chance to sit down with a local Brixton restaurant business, Kricket, to talk about their online presence and the role it will play in their business going forward. The team had made the smart decision to launch a clean, one page branded website with the restaurant’s contact and social media channel details, location and menu, enough to say “yes we’re here” but not too complex that it took them away from running the business. Therefore, whether a one person wonder or a five-strong team, owning your own space online is crucial, but demystifying the complexity first and foremost comes with the ability to recognize your own needs.
Going from Invisible to Visible
It order to make it a little bit easier for startuppers to launch their business idea with the added benefit of being visible online, GoDaddy has put together a guide that outlines the key steps to going digital. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a more detailed look into this aspect of building a business to help ensure that you’re just that little bit more informed than when you first started reading this article.
- Your Point Zero: You have your business idea or venture itself, it’s time to get going.
- Hold up a mirror against yourself: It is time to ask yourself some serious questions to understand what are your online and offline objectives. How will your online presence help you reach these objectives? Do you need a simple website, a content-rich platform or a commercial site that will facilitate sales?
- Own your domain: Your domain name is the start of your journey online, your own piece of real estate. Register a domain name that represents your business, but is also easy to type and remember.
- Become an informed decision maker: Now that you know what your objectives are and you have registered the domain name right for you, it’s time to research your website creation options. You may want to set up your website yourself, or get some help from a web developer, regardless it’s good to have some idea about what you want. There are many different hosting and website solutions, choose the one that best meets your needs and from a reliable service provider like GoDaddy. You’ll want to be sure that they have customer support for you to call on whenever you may have a question.
- Launch with confidence: You’ve selected your products, set-up the flow and content of your website and previewed it on your desktop and mobile devices to help ensure everything looks good. Now it’s time to press the publish button and launch your website.
- Continue to ask questions: Launching doesn’t necessarily mean you are done and dusted. Take a look at the metrics of your website; what is your daily traffic, how are people interacting with your website? If you have any concerns or just want to confirm something, contact the customer support team of your service provider.
- Let people know you’re online: You have your website up and running, make sure people know about it. Add it to your email signatures, business cards and other promotional materials, while linking it to your social media channels will help drive traffic back to your website and vice versa.
- Connect with more people and grow: Whether you choose to grow and nurture your customer base through email marketing, or tap into new audiences with search engine or social media marketing, you have the ability to track and monitor your performance and traffic or customer acquisitions.
- Keep on moving: There is always room to do more, to make tweaks, to do better. So, don’t stop. Enrich your website and communications with different types of content, there are plenty of tools and solutions to play around with. Add on a calendar, reservations or even an online store feature to help you better connect with your customers and push them down the purchase funnel.
Now you have a rough framework to follow, it’s time to get thinking about your journey online. Next week we’ll take a more detailed look into effectively outlining your objectives.
 Internet Users: 2015, 22 May 2015. Q1 2015 figures. http://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2015
 Internet Advertising Bureau, Definitive Time People Spend Online, http://www.iabuk.net/about/press/archive/definitive-time-people-spend-online-2hrs-51-mins-a-day