Tips for Running an Online Business in 2017

Tips for Running an Online Business in 2017Approximately 543,000 new businesses begin each month, and 52 percent of them are home-based businesses. Many of these businesses won’t survive to 2019. Thirty percent will go out of business in fewer than two years, and half will go out of business in five years. The internet makes it easier for an entrepreneur to start a business, but the web doesn’t offer much job training for those who do.

While starting your own online company sets you up for an exciting experience, this time can also be one of the most stressful. In order to get off on the right start, keep the following four tips for online success in mind.

1. Your Website Is Your First Impression

The key to running a successful online business is your website. Even companies with the best social media engagement struggle if they have a poor website user experience. You have less than six seconds to grab your site visitors’ attention and convince them to spend more time engaging with your website and your company. Are you presenting the information they need? Do you present the content in an exciting way?

While the website itself is important, you shouldn’t overlook key metrics such as load time — especially on mobile devices. More than 50 percent of website traffic comes from smartphone devices, and a poor mobile experience can cripple your business. For example, 47 percent of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less, and 79 percent of customers who have negative website experiences are unlikely to buy from a company with a poor site experience again. How does your mobile site stack up?

[Read also: Tips to Make Your Website The Best It Can Be]

2. Invest in Retention and Acquisition

New customer acquisition is a key part of any business model. In fact, most companies try to maintain a 50–50 split between new and existing customers.

According to Invesp, you’ll spend five times as much money to acquire a new customer as you’ll spend to retain an existing one. When you market to existing customers, you’ll likely have a 60 percent chance that they will make purchases, versus a 5 percent chance for new customers. Existing customers also spend 31 percent more money than new customers.

3. Professional Communication Is Key in the Digital Age

Even though you plan to run your business online, that doesn’t mean you can shortchange basic business practices. Having a helpdesk support system on your website is a surefire way to help take care of customer queries in an efficient manner. You should still have a dedicated phone number that customers can call if they have questions or want to review purchases with you.

If you’re unsure how to change your response, you can find resources online to help you get answers on how to set up your voicemail with a professional greeting when using your phone on networks such as T-Mobile. With the T-Mobile network, for example, users can rely on the power of the provider’s 4G LTE network to run their businesses anywhere from their smartphones.

Your customers will judge your company by how well you treat them. More than 75 percent of customers say they view customer service as a true test of how a company values them, and 62 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. You only need a few minutes to set up professional points of contact through your smartphone, but these steps can help you retain customers throughout the year.

4. Resist Premature Scaling

You might be tempted to bite off more than you can chew to keep your business afloat. By taking on more than you can handle, you might take on more clients, accept more orders, or approve larger purchases than you’ve filled before. In some cases, overextending yourself can lead to premature scaling, a situation that occurs when a company grows so fast in a short time period that it collapses. If you’re offered something outside of what you can handle, take a step back and wait. What you can’t accept today you could be able to accept next year.

The first year is one of the most volatile for any online company, but these four smart business practices will keep your online company around well past 2020.

[Image via Flickr by Jeff Horsager]