With an online business, you’re dealing with a whole new world of reach and opportunity. But you’re also looking at risks you may have never dealt with before. There are more ways than ever for you to mess up. But don’t let that stop you. If a business can make it online, it can explode into a global brand in surprisingly short time. So here’s how you identify and deal with the risks facing an online business.
It’s a risk for just about every business that needs to be addressed. Online, however, it’s easier to sign yourself up for services and easily forget about them. So make sure you’re as organised as you can be. Keep personal and business money separate; even in different accounts if you have to. Track every expense and overhead and keep a calendar that includes payment dates for them. Losing track of your money is an easy way to lose your web space, your products and plenty of other things your business relies on.
Your business plan should already have involved testing your market and seeing that there’s a niche for your product. But you need to go further and make sure that your business is entirely legal. For example, if you’re trading overseas, that requires a few hoops to jump through. But your biggest threat will be other businesses. Make sure you’ve done your research on whether or not you’re infringing on any trademarks. Similarly, make sure that all your intellectual property is protected, too. Big businesses have the money and the power to place their stamp on something you’ve been using for a long time. You need to get yourself protected early.
As an online business, there’s a good chance that a lot of sensitive data will be flowing from within and into your business. Financial details and personal information are likely to be part of your network. Parts that can’t fall into the wrong hands. For your sake and your customers’, you need to make sure that your network is iron clad in its defences. You should consider services like a chief information security officer that can help you spot risks before they become a problem. Ethical hackers exploit vulnerabilities for the sake of eliminating them. Being proactive in security is the only way to avoid a breach that could land you in a lot of trouble.
Of course, you’re not going to have many customers to protect if you’re not able to make yourself more visible online. First, you have to start with the brand. A visual style to the website and your marketing, along with a voice that communicates the core of your business. It’s values and objectives always at the centre of the message. Then you need to distribute it both with inbound and outbound marketing strategies. The inbound include using the best search engine optimisation. It also considers conversion rate optimisation and landing pages you can use. The outbound using social media, video marketing and content production. For any online business, visibility must always be an ongoing concern.
Once you have the customers where you want them, you better ensure that they’re able to take advantage of it. If they can’t access your services, they’re likely to never return again. For some, it can be a temporary problem caused by a site that’s not accessible from their devices. Make sure that your site takes responsive design into account. If you can, go even further and develop a specialised store experience through an app. More crucial problems include ensuring you don’t turn customers away. Usually, businesses make this mistake through failing to accept other forms of payment like credit cards.
Poor customer support
You don’t have the possibility of building a rapport face-to-face. You have to put a lot more focus into providing the infrastructure for good customer support and service online. You need to be able to solve problems in a variety of different ways to make it easier to do business with you. For one, keep contact details clear as day on the site. Then consider methods like setting up a support centre. There, customers can see queries and answers from past customers publicly. Another option includes an on-site chat client. That lets customers receive answers to their problems right as they’re using the service. Social media channels can’t be ignored as a channel for providing support either.
Before you even think of putting your site online, you need to have plans for how you’re going to deal with inventory. How and where you’re going to store it, for one. Do you have the necessary space and can you adequately maintain and monitor it? Secondly, how are you going to deliver? What’s the most cost-effective way of doing it? If you don’t have the resources to deal with it yourself, it can be a smarter move to rely on professional fulfilment services instead. Don’t try coping with inventory and order levels that you’re ill-equipped to deal with. Orders will mess up, be late or get lost and you’ll lose customers because of it.
Every business needs to prepare for success as much as they prepare for the possibility of failure. Being unprepared when it comes to scaling is where the majority of startups trip up. For one, you are going to have to prepare to spend more resources, which can necessitate a loan. You might even have to reorganise the whole of the business. Too many companies make the mistake of believing it’s as simple as recruiting more. Recruiting willy-nilly is both costly and ineffective. Study your processes one by one and wonder if more people is going to make it more effective on a larger scale.
The above risks are far from the only ones that your online business is going to face. A few of them, like your visibility, will be battles that you’re fighting for as long as your business exists. But keeping the steps above in mind, you should be a lot more prepared than you were before.