Starting An Online Business
There are two manners of doing business on the Web. You can utilize the Web to expand your bricks-and-mortar business, or you can start an entirely web-based business. Both routes require time and commitment to learning how e-commerce works and what it takes to build and maintain a successful website.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Internet is that you can communicate with, and do business with, anyone in any part of the world as long as he’s connected to the web. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) link you to places around the globe in seconds, and doing business is a couple of clicks away. Therefore, your first customers on a web-based business in Ohio could be from Sydney, Australia, a location you would never have reached through traditional business methods a decade ago.
Additionally, the Internet provides, to some degree, a level playing field between large and small companies. For example, if you put together an excellent looking site working from your basement, and a multi-million dollar company puts together a site working from its own industrial park, someone looking at the two sites on their computer may not see any significant difference.
So, what do you do to build your own web business or utilize the Web to enhance your business? First and foremost, evaluate other Web sites and see which ones you do and do not like. Look at each site with a critical eye. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I like the page layout?
2. Do the products or service jump out at me or are the pages cluttered?
3. Is the site easy to navigate or do I have to click again and again to
4. Is the content crisp and clear or confusing and poorly written?
5. Is the site current or does it appear out of date?
6. Is there a way to contact the site owner or customer service?
7. How easy is it to buy something from selection through checkout?
8. Are shipping terms concise and easy to understand?
Next you will need to plan out your site. What will be on each page and how will you capture the essence of your business? Look at prominent web sites for an idea of how they display products, present features, and walk you through the checkout process. Planning out a site is like decorating an apartment or arranging a store. You need to figure out exactly where everything should go and how you want potential customers to find each item or service you offer.