Taking Your Small Business Online in 4 Steps

So you have a small business…

Congratulations!

Owning a small business is one of the most rewarding (and challenging) things you can do.

One of the most challenging parts of owning a business is bringing in more customers.

In today’s technological world, the sales process has changed and people are going online to find businesses and look for reviews.

Having an online presence for your business can increase your sales 10x.

88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. (Source: Tyton Media)

In the article, I am going to show you how to take your small business online in 4 simple steps.

Domain

The first step in the process of taking your business online is to find a domain name. A domain name is the www.something.com that people use to find you in the address bar of a browser.

A domain name can be thought of like real estate.

When you purchase a domain name no one else can have that domain unless they buy it from you or you fail to renew the domain (usually yearly renewals).

The first step in finding a domain name is to head to a domain name registrar like GodaddyNetwork Solutions or Namecheap.

Search for your desired name to see if it’s available.

When looking for a domain name, you want it to have some or all of the following factors:

  • Contain your business name
  • Contain your businesses service
  • Be short and sweet
  • Should be easy to remember

So what if your desired domain name is taken?

Well, you may be out of luck unless you are willing to buy the domain name from the current owner but this can get quite expensive depending on the quality of the domain.

You can also look at other TLD suffixes like:

  • .com
  • .org
  • .net
  • .biz
  • .info

There are now currently over 1000 TLD suffixes available to the public. If you are interested in viewing all the TLDs, check out this list.

Once you have found that perfect domain it’s time to purchase it…

But how much do domains cost?

Domains are usually pretty cheap if someone doesn’t already have the domain. They usually range from $10-$15 a year depending on the TLD and the registrar.

If you are buying a domain name from someone who already owns it, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1 and $36,000,000.

That’s right; the most expensive domain name ever sold was Insurance.com for $35.6 million!

But don’t worry too much about your domain name. It’s the value of the website you create that matters!

Web Design/Development

So you’ve purchased that perfect domain name and now you are ready to build your website and start doing online business.

It’s important to have your website goals laid out before you start any building at all.

There are some important questions to ask:

  • Will your website accept payments?
  • Will you be selling products on your website?
  • How many pages will your website be?
  • Do you need custom development?

These questions will help figure out how much it will cost to build a website. It will also help the web development/design company in building a well-structured website.

Here are the 3 main types of website:

Ecommerce Websites

If you want to sell products on your website, then you need an ecommerce website.

Ecommerce websites allow customers to purchase products securely right on your website.

They can be custom made or you can use software to help facilitate your ecommerce store.

Some great ecommerce platforms are Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento and their prices average from $20-$200 a month (Magento is free).

If you are a small business, I recommend using one of these platforms instead of creating a custom ecommerce solution.

It will save you a ton of money in the long run!

Business Websites

Companies that provide offline services should have a business website.

Business websites give your company an online presence so customers can find your contact information, details of your services, and information on how to get your services.

They often have a booking or consultation form so that potential customers can get in touch to learn more about your business’s services or book an appointment.

Business Websites are great for:

  • Doctors
  • Chiropractors
  • Lawyers
  • Dentist
  • Real estate agents
  • Construction companies
  • Psychologist

These types of businesses can gain 10x customers just by being online.

Business websites typically run on a CMS (content management system) like WordPress or Joomla.

A CMS will help your business scale and grow online by allowing for better search engine rankings and user engagement.

Custom Websites

Lastly, custom websites are for any type of website that needs custom development. This could be an online web application or even the next Facebook!

Custom websites are often the most expensive because they require quality developers and time.

Depending on how complex the custom website is, the cost could reach $20,000-$50,000 or more.

This option is not usually for small businesses unless it’s a tech startup whose main business is done online.

Hosting

Now that your brand new website is complete and ready to go live, it’s time to find somewhere to host it.

In order to have your business online, you must host it on a server. There are tons of website hosting companies that provide high-quality hosting at an affordable price.

Here are a few things to look for in a hosting provider:

  • Support
  • Uptime Guarantee
  • Scalability
  • Parking
  • Price
  • Control Panel
  • Backups

It is possible to find a hosting provider for as little as a few bucks a month but know that you get what you pay for.

Many cheap shared hosting companies will throw you on a server with thousands of other people which limits resources making your website slow.

If your website is going to get a good amount of traffic, you should be on a VPS or dedicated server.

The great thing about most hosting providers is that they have multiple packages so you can scale your website with the same company.

Growing Your Business

So your new website is online and live…but customers aren’t flying in…

What the heck!

That’s because there are millions of competitors online, doing the same thing.

In order to get customers to your website, you have to do some online marketing.

Here are some ways to get visitors to your website:

Inbound Marketing

This is the newest and highest converting way to get visitors and turn them into customers.

Inbound marketing is the promotion of your website/business using:

  • SEO
  • Whitepapers
  • Social media
  • Podcast
  • Newsletters
  • Content Marketing

Here is a graphic by hubspot that explains inbound marketing very well…

Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that attracts users to your company or product via search engines and social media.

Advertising

If you have some money to spend, then advertising can help increase visitors to your website…

But be careful if you aren’t sure what you are doing!

It’s very easy to spend $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars and not land a single customer.

Online advertising is a very precise science of finding the right target audience, having the right ad, and creating high-converting landing pages.

Some of the biggest online advertising platforms are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

Google Adwords allows you to target certain keywords people are searching for in Google.

Here is an example of some Google Adwords ads in the SERP (search engine results page).

seo ads

This allows you to get really nitty-gritty with keywords to find that perfect custom searching for your business.

Facebook Ads uses a different approach than Adwords…

Since Facebook knows pretty much everything about you, they can use this information to help businesses reach very specific target markets on Facebook.

Unlike Adwords, Facebook Ads uses interests and demographics to target users.

The great thing about Facebook Ads is that you can get really precise with your targeting.

For example, you could target Men between the ages of 25-35 that own a small business with 1-10 employees.

This type of targeting can really help you find your ideal customers and convert them easier.

Facebook ads are also a cheaper than Adwords.

According to AdEspresso, the average CPC (cost per click) of Facebook Ads is $0.27 cents while the average CPC of Google Adwords ads is $1.50.

Wrapping Up

Now that you have learned these 4 simple steps to taking your business online, you should be ready to take the journey to more customers.

First, you must find and purchase a domain name that fits your business or service.

Once your domain is purchased, you must get a website built or created.

You have to host the website on a server at a hosting company.

Lastly, you must grow your website in order to get traffic and customers.

If you follow these 4 simple steps, you will get your website/business online in small amount of time.

 

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