If 2020 showed us anything, it is that the future of business is online. If you haven’t moved your business online yet, don’t fret because here are five easy steps to setting up your company’s journey on the internet.
While last year was difficult for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, those that primarily operate online thrived. Companies like online payment services provider PayPal and digital streaming site Netflix posted record results throughout 2020.
With an increasing number of people working and spending a large portion of their time at home, commerce won’t stop, but its nature will continue to change, and it will move online more and more. That is why it is vital to get your business online as soon as it is physically possible for you to do so.
1. Buy a Website Domain Name
The first step to moving your business online is to purchase a domain name. Think of it as your store’s location on the internet. Ideally, you’d want it to be the same as or at least reflect whatever your business is called. It is relatively inexpensive, depending on what you are hoping to choose as a domain name, and will likely cost around $15-$20 per year.
There are far more options to consider than there used to be, though. It is no longer only a choice between a “.com” or a “.org”; these days there are plenty of domains to choose from, and it could be beneficial to check what other companies in your industry have done. Many websites in the online gaming space, for example, choose a domain that ends with “.gg” because it is a friendly term meaning “good game” in that industry.
2. Build Your Website
Once you own a domain name that you are happy with, the next step is to start building your website. Don’t worry too much about fancy design elements and eye-catching graphics at this stage — just sort out the basics.
You need to consider what type of website you want to build and what platform to put it on. If you run a design company, a picture-heavy blog could be the way to go. If your business will involve e-commerce, a platform like Shopify is worth looking into, as well as registering a business account with PayPal.
If you intend to sell things through your website, make sure to set up a checkout and payment system and that everything you have available to sell is listed. People won’t be able to buy something they can’t find or pay for.
3. Work on Your Website’s Design
Once all the basics are in place, you can move on to making it all look much nicer. Online, just like in real life, people do a lot of their shopping with their eyes. If your website is incomplete, rushed, or just generally looks unprofessional, it will put off potential customers.
Depending on which platform you chose to make your website, there will likely be several free and paid themes that you can apply to your website to polish its look and feel. Look through all of them to find an option that best suits your company; don’t be afraid to spend some money here. It is the face of your business online, even if that means bringing in a web design company to give it a professional finish.
4. Don’t Sleep on the Legal Stuff
The internet is not the Wild West, even if it may seem like it sometimes. All the rules that pertain to brick-and-mortar businesses still apply to those that operate online. You might find there are more legal hurdles when operating online, especially if you intend to sell to different states or international markets.
For example, in the iGaming industry, online gambling in NJ is legal, where it is heavily regulated and even illegal in other states. The legality of a product like cannabis can also be extremely complicated for this reason, as it is entirely illegal in two states, legal for medical use in the majority of the United States of America, and fully legal in states on the west coast.
In terms of a business license, not much changes as it will be the same one you registered for your company initially. However, if you intend to work from home, you might need a Home Occupation Permit to run a business from a residential address legally. Make sure you know what rules and laws apply to whatever business you want to run and ensure you stay on the right side of them.
5. Add Content to Your Website
Once everything is set up, you can start fleshing out your website with all the extra content and information websites need to stand out online. Content is crucial to ensure that a website looks professional, feels like an excellent place to shop, and helps with search engine optimization.
You can place content wherever you want on your site, but it is essential to first fill up a few key areas. Namely the homepage, as well as About Us, the product/services, returns/refund, and contact pages.
Visitors should instantly tell what your business is and what it does from your homepage. The About Us page is key to creating a stronger bond with your customers. People prefer knowing whom they are doing business with.
The product/services page is where you list what you want to sell, but you can also add extra information about the products and what makes them special. The returns and refunds section is vital because customers need to know you aren’t trying to rip them off, while the contact page is equally important if someone wants to get hold of you for whatever reason.