In yesterday’s economy many businesses simply threw up a website to support their physical business and called it a day. The website acted more like a large, extended business card or menu. In today and tomorrow’s economy, we have learned that is no longer sufficient if you want to thrive in business.
It’s time to actually take your business online. Create an actual virtual storefront for your business. Offer an actual experience online. And a way to purchase your services or products. Good news is, no matter your industry you can take your business online and be prepared for anything that comes. Let’s take a look at exactly how to approach this.
Why Take my Business Online?
We live in a digital world and that is not changing. Having a complete online store front will make your business easily accessible for anyone in any situation.
That accessibility helps potential clients find you and current clients buy from you. It is often said time is money and with an online store your business is always working for you. Freeing you up and gifting you more time.
During the Covid pandemic we saw the physical store economy come to a screeching halt while online businesses continued to thrive. That is exactly why every business should have a real online presence. An actual store that allows your clients to buy from you right there.
Our job as business owners is to make sure our business keeps operating and producing revenue no matter what.
How Would I Offer My Physical Service or Product Online?
The first step is to imagine you were suddenly no longer able to offer your service or product to your clients in person. This should not be hard to imagine. Next, ask yourself, how could you still serve your clients virtually or online?
Will it look a little different? Yes. It may not even be with the same exact services. A hairstylist, for example, has to be in person to cut or color someone’s hair. You could stop there and say it does not work for you or look further to ask what else could I offer as a stylist if someone could not come to see me?
Madison Reed, a national color bar, offers in salon hair color application and also ships color straight to client’s homes for self-application. Their clients have a choice. A stylist could look for similar options. Another online option would be shipping hair care products to clients. Better yet, set up a recurring system where their products are automatically shipped on a certain frequency. Create video tutorials or e-books. Or offer virtual coaching sessions to walk them through a process.
Look to your own business model to see how you could creatively offer services or products online yourself. Identify what you could offer online.
How do I get started? The Blueprint.
When creating an online presence look to create a full online storefront. Make your customers feel like they have just walked in your store or studio or restaurant. And, make it easy to buy and schedule with you. Make it easy for your clients to shop with you online.
Think of yourself for a moment. There is bound to be at least one thing you buy online. And most likely, there are numerous. You may even order products for your own store online. Order groceries or books or services.
Your clients are doing the same. You want to give your clients the same convenience and experience you would want. Make it easy to find you and your offerings no matter what.
The first step to take your business online is of course a website. If you have a strong following on social media this could be an interim step, but you do not own your social sites and only about 6% of followers see your content. You want to engage and market on social (even sell) AND have your own storefront online (your website that you own).
There are many ways to create a website on your own these days. One such service is Wix. It is user friendly and does not require web skills. This site is built on Wix. Even if you need to hire someone to build it for you. It will be easy to maintain by anyone.
This is your first step. It is your virtual store or office.
2. Complete Offerings
Envision your site like a physical space. See your client walking through it. How would they reach you? How would they schedule appointments or buy services or products? You want this experience to be as complete and clear as possible. It should also match your brand. This is simply another location for your store, restaurant, studio, office.
3. Take a Walk
Become your client. What would you want to see online if you were attempting to do business with you? What do you look for when you visit a store online? What irritates you? What makes it easy? What do you wish they offered or made easier?
4. Low Hanging Fruit
If you have no website presence now, start with the basics and include a way to contact you. Clients will want more than this. Use this only as you add more information and offerings. Start with a list of what is easiest to add and build from there.
The best website in the world will do you no good if it is a secret. Promote it on social media, to your email list, in person, on your cards, signage. Promote it the way we once promoted phone numbers or street addresses. It should be on everything.
Many small businesses, entrepreneurs, or solopreneurs have skirted by with little to no website presence in the past. You are likely one of them if you are reading this. And, you may be thinking, I’ve done just fine without it up until now.
Think what you could have done with one all this time.
Your business would have already been positioned as one with easy access from anywhere no matter the physical circumstance. Your business could have already been producing additional revenue or bookings while you slept. It is time to step into this new world and not just survive, but thrive in your business.