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9 Prime Rules For Running A Successful Online Business

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Online-Business

Here’s the bad news: Thousands of people start an online business every day. However, only a small percentage of these online businesses actually succeed.

Here’s the good news: There are certain basic rules you can follow to turn your online business into a successful one. Here are the 9 prime rules for running a successful online business.

 

The 9 Golden Rules For Running An Online Business

 

1 – Keep Your Website Design Simple and Well-Organized

People have a tendency to want to over-design their website in an effort to make it stand out or look cool. They may add flash animation, sound in the background, and load the site up with large graphics. This is a huge mistake, especially for business-oriented websites. It is much more important to make sure your design is organized in a way that visitors can easily find what they are looking for at a glance. Music blaring out is actually a pet peeve of many internet shoppers, especially if they are surfing at work as many do. You also want to make sure that the text is easy to read. Dark text on a simple light background is the safest way to go.

Apple.com is the perfect example of a well designed website. Apple.com has some of the best web designers in the world who develop their website, check them out and also other big company sites for ideas if need be.

 

2 – Respond To Your Visitors Promptly

When a visitor, a potential customer, emails you or fills out your contact form, it is imperative that you get back to them as soon as possible. People always take mental note of how long it takes an online business to get back to them. Even if you are on vacation, you should either have an employee answering the emails in your absence or take your laptop along and answer the emails while your out-of-town.

There is way too much competition out there now for you to let potential clients slip through the cracks because you weren’t diligent enough to follow through.

 

3 – Engage Your Visitors

If you can turn your visitors into active participants on your website, you will increase loyalty and sales. The simplest way to do this is to add a blog and open it up for comments from your visitors. Advertise your posts in your newsletter and ask for comments. For larger sites, you may want to add a discussion board where your visitors can create their own topics.

Set yourself up on a number of Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn and conversate/share/inform your customers with high quality answers and content. Also make sure that you have a follow, Fan Page ‘Like” widget or a Pinterest badge on your website so that people can follow you through their favorite social media platform and stay in tune with your progress and updates.

Checkout Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice on growing your business using social media, Gary is an Ace! and definitely someone you should look up to in the Online Business world.

 

4 – Give Your Visitors a Reason To Come Back

Repeat visitors to your online business will increase sales for sure. You can give your visitors a reason to come back in many ways. For example, you can let them know that once a month you post a one-day only sale. Another example might be to write an article and let the readers know there will be a follow-up next month. Make the topic of the follow-up something that people really want to know.

Just adding quality content on a regular basis is a good way to get repeat visitors.

 

5 – Do Not Over-Sell To Your Visitors

No one likes a pushy salesperson in a brick and mortar business. Online business are no different in this aspect. People hate to feel like they are being overly pressured to buy something. You can point out the advantages of your product or service but try not to over-sell. Watch out for superlative spammy language too. It will usually backfire on you!

 

6 – Do Not Over Optimize Your Website

You have probably heard of the term, “search engine optimization” or SEO. This is where people design their webpages with the intent of ranking higher in the search engines, particularly Google. Many online businesses push this way too far. Their sites end up being demoted or even banned from the search results because the search engines view their efforts as spam. Over optimizing pages also makes them less likeable and readable by real human beings.

 

7 – Do Not List Your Website In Bad Neighbourhoods

For a long time, it has been well-known that Google and other search engines look at how many links there are to a website as one important factor in determining how to rank that website in the search engine results. This has prompted online business owners to want to get as many links as they can. Sometimes they even pay for links in directories and blogs. However, in most cases, these paid links are sites that are known as bad neighborhoods by the search engines. In other words, they are spammy sites and having your website listed in them can actually hurt you, not help you!

 

8 – Maintain a High Quality Mailing List

Ask your visitors to sign up for your newsletter when they come to your online business site. Give them an incentive to do so such as a free report or free e-course on a topic related to your business. Having said this, respect your visitors and their time. Be sure not to send out your newsletter too often, perhaps once a month and occasionally send a special announcement. Also, make sure to put quality content in your newsletter and give your subscribers an easy way to opt out.

 

9 – Remember At The End Of The Day Your Customers Are STILL Real People

A lot of people forget this, they are not treating their customers as real human beings and are not putting themselves in the customers shoes. Customer service will always be around, that’s why we need to stay good at looking after our clients. If you can’t help them with their request, get back to them and let them know that you have exhausted every avenue to find a way and maybe even refer them onto someone who can help them. Even though you may not be able to help them at that very point in time, they WILL remember you went the extra mile for them and will tell their friends via word of mouth or by social media (which would be great promotion for you), either way, you can rest your head at night knowing that you are doing everything you can to hold a good name for your business and that every one that deals with you is satisfied. Tony Hsieh has his staff at Zappos practice this commitment with their customers and he has managed to build his online retail store to a $1.2 Billion Dollar company.

This is how you secure yourself as the “go to guy in your industry”, and as time goes by and all these “short attention span, new comers” are so use to ONLY dealing with their customers over a keyboard and text conversation, they will be skimming over life long customers and potentially huge clients for the future.

No matter how digital the business world gets, you are and will always be DEALING WITH REAL PEOPLE. Reputation is everything, don’t forget that.

 

Article By Joel Brown | Addicted2Success.com

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 200 million lives in the last 10 years.

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42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. alicia thibadeau

    May 1, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Great article, I especially like #4, and am thinking of new ways to do this with my blog, that one tip has opened my eyes, so thanks for that.

  2. john andrade

    Dec 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Mobile friendly website is one of the most important feature a website needs tohave today

  3. ludovic baratier

    Nov 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    hello
    for me if you want to success, the best way is to put the customer at the center of your preocuppations : customer centric attitude. In this way, you will get success.

    Ludo

  4. Yusri Big

    Oct 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    The first and most important success strategy that we can adopt is to treat our home Internet business like a real business, not a hobby. There are basic proven success strategies that the highly successful online business owners put into practice on a daily basis and we can implement them too.

  5. This is great! I love how much you focus on the visitors/people. Many people forget that web traffic represents actual people, not just a number.

  6. BuildIndia Building Corp..

    Sep 23, 2013 at 2:35 am

    thanks for the wonderful post!

  7. Kids Toys (Malaysia)

    Jul 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    For online shops I would also recommend adding content that builds trust with your customers such as testimonials, contact numbers, shop locations, news articles, anything that can give the buyer a sense that your online shop is reputable.

  8. How To Make Money Online

    Jun 21, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the excellent tips. I’ve been able to make a few valuable improvements to my site tanks to you!

    Keep the online money articles coming!

    Cheers

  9. Aditi

    May 8, 2013 at 12:09 am

    These are wonderful common sense rules we should never forget …

  10. tasha

    May 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    These are great tips but as an online retailer these tips seem more leaning towards people who deal with a service verse having a product such as clothing.

    I would also listed having a shopping cart that is mobile friendly and easy to use.

    Payment options that work for you and your consumer.

    Not just communicating with your customer there needs to be a means to communicate in the first place. So many websites dont have a contact page in the first place.

  11. Givi

    Mar 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Great Points, thanks for the reminder! I quite enjoyed this article!

  12. houseofjoyfiji@gmail.com

    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Very interesting pointers

  13. Ravi Janardhan

    Jan 31, 2013 at 6:20 am

    awesome!
    And so is the closing lines:

    No matter how digital the business world gets, you are and will always be DEALING WITH REAL PEOPLE. Reputation is everything, don’t forget that.

  14. Ratu Epeli Roseruvakula

    Jan 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

    very helpful tips on how to start up a successful online business

    • Joel

      Joel

      Jan 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Ratu 🙂

  15. Keller Coleman

    Jan 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Great points, these tools will definitely help my business. Thanks

  16. Kola

    Jan 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    This is so well said. Thank you for these great reminders!

  17. Tahir Mehmood

    Jan 19, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Very good work and i have done some changes in my work since i had chance to read your 9 points.

    All looking good now thx

    Tahir

  18. Deji R Yusuf

    Jan 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    thank you addicted 2 success! These are salient points that can be useful for serious internet entrepreneur!

  19. Brandon Randall

    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Well done! I appreciate the pointers. These are simple action items that I will apply immediately. Thank you!

  20. Stephan L

    Jan 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Great points here. what do people think are the chances of being able to create a successful online store like Amazon or Zappos? is this possible or should I look at starting a different type of store?

    • HowieW

      Jan 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      @Stephan L,

      If your website is promoting items that are in ‘high demand’, then I don’t see why you or anyone for that matter, can’t create a website that would do as well as the ones you’ve listed!

      Do the proper market research and simply find those things that solve a problem (Weight Loss, Money, Relationships, Etc., Etc.,) or provide an irresistible “want” or “need”…follow the advice in this article and I’m sure you’ll see success!

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Startups

How to Create a Winning Startup Culture

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Some time back, in my infographic on 51 Business Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs Make, I had outlined that one of the biggest mistakes is that you do not give any thought as to what you consider would be a great startup culture. And, without good policies or HR to keep things in check, the startup begins to develop a toxic business culture. (more…)

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51 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dream Startup

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So you’ve got an idea. You know it will work. And, it means the world to you.

You are an entrepreneur and you think you can rock the world with this one idea that matters to you the most. And, you set out to form the idea into a startup that you are going to nurture and develop into a blooming business in the upcoming years.

However, I don’t want to throw water over your dreams but, I do need to bring this “optimist” you into the hard and cold reality…….. the reality which says that 90% of all startups fail.

Of course, this can bring a great deal of uncertainty into your life and you got to be prepared to deal with it. You are also going to face a ton of challenges in your life which will force you to grow as an entrepreneur. But, the important thing is that you stick with it.

Of course, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s friend) once said, “All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die So I’ll Never Go There”. No entrepreneurs want their startups to fail after putting in days and weeks of effort into it.

So, a lot of research has been put forward into knowing what does actually sabotage a startup?

Fortune reported that the single biggest reason startups fail was because they do not identify what the market wants before setting up their startup.

However, it isn’t as simple as that. An entrepreneur needs to perform a comprehensive business plan before he sets out with his business idea. Also, you have to know whether your business idea actually suits you or not. If it doesn’t then, you either you need to fine-tune yourself with your business idea or you need to change the business plan so that it suits you.

And, it is only after that, should you venture upon your startup.
Now, is that all? Of course not. The problem most entrepreneurs face when they first begin their entrepreneurial journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s where they tend to make a series of mistakes that may cause great harm to their startup.

That’s why I scoured for successful entrepreneurs to provide me with information on what they think were the most common mistakes that startups do. Plus, I also got tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

You can check out the original article here: 70 Mistakes Startups Make And Tips On How You Can Avoid Them

Now, it’s your turn to do some work. Let me know what you thought of these mistakes and tips that entrepreneurs commit. Do you know of any other mistakes that entrepreneurs do? Comment below!

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8 Key Factors That Discourage Investors From Putting Money Into Your Startup

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how to find funding for your startup
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Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s winning businesses. Ideas executed brilliantly and with proper investment bring your business success. That is how the world of business got the likes of Apple, Google, McDonald’s, Amazon and so on.

But why in spite of the brilliant and promising ideas at the core of their business, many startups fail to attract investors? Why do investors hesitate to put their money into some startups? Well, investors have reasons and only by deciphering these reasons we could get hold of some deterrent factors that hold them back.

Let us explain some of the vital factors that prevent investors from putting their money in the startups below:

1. Inefficiency or Absence of Leadership Qualities

Inefficiency is the most significant deterrent factor for pulling the success of most startups. This can also be referred to as the lack of leadership qualities. Investors always want to make sure that they don’t lose their money through a company that has an extraordinary business model but no efficient and skilled business leader to make it successful. When fetching investment from investors, you need to offer a clear prospect and detailed plan of how you are going to achieve the goals.

2. Lack of Trustworthiness

An investor puts his money on a venture purely on the basis of the credibility and trustworthiness of the business. This is why besides having a sound business plan with clear objectives, you need to establish the integrity in terms of the security of the investor’s money and how the fund is going to be invested to give results as per business plan.

If an investor has a feeling that the startup may not have enough customers to fulfil its financial liabilities or if it finds that the business is hiding some information, it may further push the trust of the investors down. Total transparency and establishing the faith of the business brand are crucial for finding investors in favor.

3. Lacking Experience in Business Management

You have a great business idea backed up by a sound business plan and solid trustworthiness based on your background, but you have zero experience in managing a business. This is a serious reason for an investor to deny making any investment in your business. An investor cannot put his money just to allow you trying and learning your management skills the harder and riskier way. Uncertainty is the single biggest turn-off factor for any investor and lack of managerial experience is synonymous to that.

4. Business Model is Not Sound Enough

You have a business idea, some efficient, competent and experienced professionals as leaders, the great stamp of trust and pretty much everything that make a company look promising. But what about your business strategy and business model? Are they sound enough to take on the market competition and challenges for business growth? Well, this is what investors are most interested in.

In most cases, a business model is what makes an investor think twice and even take a backward step from investing in a startup. After all, your business model and strategy will decide how your business and products will be able to withstand competition and become victorious.

5. Taking Investors for Granted

This is a big mistake on the part of many startups. Just by becoming confident in the potential and the soundness of the business model and prospect, a business can consider getting investors on board requires just a little effort and time. But in reality, getting investors on board is the toughest thing a business can think of.

This is why without proper and meticulous preparation, it would be foolish to approach investors for your business. Most investors receive hundreds of such emails and a similar number of approaches through other means and they coldly just let them pass. This is why you need to send them very detailed proposals backed by strong recommendations and referrals.

6. Targeting the Wrong Investor

Every business has a target customer base, right? Not all customers are interested in every product in the market. Similarly, not all investors are interested in your business. Investors based on their prior experience and industry exposure, put their money in businesses that they know like their own palm of their hand.

So, targeting an investor who has no interest in your business will only drain your energy and bring you unnecessary frustration. When you are seeking investors for your software startup, don’t approach someone investing in real estate business.

7. Non-Realistic Proposal for Funds

Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Naturally, they have every bit of estimate already in their mind. So, any proposal claiming a lofty and unrealistic amount will only face rejection.

This is why it would be wise to become meticulous about your estimation of the required fund and calculation of various cost factors. Have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the costs. Only when you can convince them with correct estimation, investors can take interest in discussing the matter further.

8. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Customer Problem

Will any investor put money in building a simple calendar app now? No, simply because such an app idea has no value for the end users now. Will an investor put money in a product that has already been outdated and has no use? No, no investor has to even go through such a proposal for dismissing them.

Well, to fetch investment, your product must be thoroughly customer-centric. It not only has to solve a problem but has to deliver some competitive value in comparison to similar products in the market.

Obviously, finding an investor for a new business is not an easy task, considering the huge competition that businesses need to deal with. But, if your business idea is unique and you fill all those requirements correctly as mentioned above, finding investors may not be as tough as it sounds.

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5 Must Have Branding Tools for Your Startup

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Your brand is more than just the colors on your website. And for startups, it’s important to create a strong and memorable brand from the beginning if you want to stand out from the competition, scale your company, and find your ideal customers faster.

Here are 5 simple tools that will help your company avoid branding mistakes, take charge of your visual identity, and set a solid foundation for future growth:

1. Graphic Design Software

The word “design” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before deciding on your startup’s logo, colors, designs, and overall tone, consider working with a brand strategist who can translate the core ingredients of your startup into a visual identity that speaks to your target market.

Brand strategists have expertise in the psychology of colors, shapes, textures, and words, and they will work with you to make sure that your branding appeals to your target audience. Once you have those basics of your brand established, there are several tools that can help your company refresh and maintain your visual identity.

The absolute best graphic design tool for non-designers is Canva. While the free version has a lot of functionality, the paid plans offer more customization such as the ability to import your exact brand fonts and colors.

But if your company handles all of your design in-house, you will need something more advanced than Canva. In that situation, I would recommend Adobe Creative Cloud to startups who work on their designs in-house, as it includes top-notch design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, and more.

“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos

2. Visuals & Creative Imagery

Have you ever wondered where your competitors get those beautiful branded photographs that end up on their website? While it’s possible that they worked with a photographer, it’s also likely that much of their imagery comes from stock photos.

Here are my recommendations on the exact places to purchase stock imagery to improve your company’s branding:

  • Creative Market – A treasure trove of quality visual imagery where you can buy anything from stock photos, to branding mockups, to social media templates (Facebook cover photo, anyone?), to custom fonts… the options are nearly endless.
  • Adobe Stock – Beloved by designers, and the platform offers tiered pricing plans based on your image needs and download quantity.
  • Pixels – If you’re on a tight budget and just need to grab an image or two for a blog post, you may be able to find what you need on Pixels – which is great because all of the photos and videos on Pixels are free!

3. Social Media Scheduler

You’re a leader. You’re an entrepreneur. Your staff, board, funders, and admirers depend on you to make big decisions, lead the ship, and plot the vision towards your company’s future. You don’t have time to stare at a blank screen every day wondering what to post on Facebook.

By using a social media scheduling tool, you can sit down for a few hours, schedule batches of content, and schedule the dates and times when it will post to your accounts over the next couple of months. Then, once the content is posted, you only need to worry about responding to comments and engaging with your customers. 21st century efficiency at its finest.

Popular social media schedulers include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which include free and paid plans. Not sure what exactly to post? Check out these social media ideas from influential businesses. And if the idea of writing and planning months of content still overwhelms you, our next tool will help you stay organized and on-brand.

4. Editorial Calendar

When it comes to your content, it’s time to step it up a notch and start thinking like a media outlet. Every piece of content that you put out as a company, whether it’s an e-mail blast, blog post, social media post, podcast, or video, needs to be aligned with your brand.

Each major magazine maintains an editorial calendar which outlines the overarching theme for each of the upcoming 12+ months. By establishing a monthly content theme in advance, they create a framework to generate and organize their ideas.

Consider creating an internal editorial calendar that will guide your startup’s content over the next 6-12 months. The software tool you use to maintain your editorial calendar isn’t that important — I like to use Trello, but you can also create a simple numbered list in Google Docs or Microsoft Excel. You may be surprised at how quickly the creative juices flow once you have an editorial calendar in place.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

5. In-Person Networking

Offline efforts count towards your branding too! And if you run your entire startup from behind your laptop screen, you miss out on ample opportunities to build your business offline and gain local referral partners.

If you’re new to in-person networking, start by visiting Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com where you can browse for events in your area. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting events to attend. For example: If you’re a chiropractor, it makes sense to attend local holistic health meetups. But you could also attend a travel event and meet digital nomads who don’t yet realize that a chiropractor can help them recover after long plane rides.

Remember that you’re not at the networking event to make instant sales, you’re looking for referral partners and connections. Don’t be the person who tries to shove your sales pitch down everyone’s throat upon meeting them.

As you can see, there are many simple online and offline resources that can help you spruce up your branding, reach new customers, and pique the interest of your target market. If you take branding one step at a time and start with the tools above, you will be well on your way to creating a brand that your customers will cherish and remember.

Have you used any of these branding tools before? Are there any additional tools that have helped your startup’s branding shine? Share your thoughts below!

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