Creating an online business from scratch, or moving your existing business online can be daunting. This short guide will take you through the essential tools you need to bring your business online.
You'll find tips to get the essentials you need and avoid spending money on any unnecessary software.
The 3 essential parts you need to bring your business online are:
- Email Autoresponder/CRM
- Social Media Management
“Software and website building providers are all trying to sell you their solution, whether you need it or not. The key is to understand what you really need to bring your business online”
Remember, software and website building providers are all trying to sell you their solution, whether you need it or not. The key is to understand what you really need to bring your business online.
Read this guide if you're:
1. A small to medium B2B business
2. A service based B2C business
3. A local brick and mortar business
4. An artist, solo-entrepreneur, personal trainer or coach
The Essential Tools
These are the building blocks you'll need to cover your bases with bringing your business online. There are many products available for each "block", so I've chosen the most widely used and most beginner friendly options.
Again, the 3 essential components to bringing your business online are your website, your email autoresponder/CRM and your social media management tool.
Let's start with your website.
Your website is your corner of the internet that you own.
For full flexibility and customisation and/or if you have the budget to hire a developer, WordPress can be just as cost effective for simple sites.
2. Email Autoresponder
Your email list is one of the most valuable assets you can own. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, many businesses were forced to move online.
Those that had built their email list were able to communicate to their customers and offer adapted services, stay top of mind and even offer goodwill gestures such as discounts and assistance in a turbelent time.
Mailchimp is a widely used free option (up to 2000 subscribers) and integrates with many different software platforms.
Hubspot is also a highly recommended platform that offers a free CRM for small businesses to get started. You can upgrade to their paid options for marketing, sales and service when and if you need to.
3. Social Media Profiles
Social Media can be a powerful communication channel to reach your customers.
However, creating, updating and building profiles can be time consuming and it's easy to become overwhelmed with trying to keep up with daily posting.
Start by identifying the most important channels for your business. Are your customers on Twitter?
If not, then your energy might be better spent on your Facebook and Instagram channels.
There are some great low cost options for scheduling social media content, so you can line up months worth of posts in just a few hours.
The social media management platforms I recommend are Hootsuite and Later.
Optional Additions for BringingYour Business Online
4. Shopping Cart
Website builders such as Wix and Squarespace offer inbuilt payment processing options, but usually require a dedicated page for each product or service you're selling.
What if you need to bill a client for a one time project? Or set up recurring or subscription billing? Without having to set up a dedicated website page for that product or service?
If this is the case, I recommend Thrivecart.
Thrivecart lets you create fast, frictionless checkout pages at lightning speed. It's incredibly easy to use and though it's not cheap, as of this writing it's still available as a lifetime deal. I use the product as my sole payment system for my agency after several years so it's saved me a significant amount of money in the long run.
Recommended for Beginners
Hubspot offers a free CRM/Email Marketing solution for small businesses. As you scale over time, you can choose to add the paid options to your online business but you may never need to.
The power of Hubspot is in having all your customer details in one place, and the software will grow with you as your online business grows.
Though the learning curve can be a little steeper than Mailchimp, it's worth it in the long run so you don't have to change any tools later.
Later allows you to post to multiple channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.
What's more, you can schedule these posts so you don't have to spend precious time each day trying to figure out what to post.
For example, you might take a few hours once a quarter to schedule out 3 months worth of posts and let Later do the rest.
The solutions listed here are more than enough for most small businesses. As you grow, you can always add more tools to your online business but it's best to start with the essentials.
Your "why" for creating your business is far more important than any online tools. Your online presence is just an extension of what you bring to your customers and to the market.
I hope you've enjoyed this article on bringing your business online. We offer Done For You Online Business Starter Packs, if you'd rather have your website, CRM and Social Media Management set up for you.
If I can help with anything at all in relation to your marketing just hit the button at the bottom of this page to chat.