So you’ve decided to go for it. You’re done with having the thought in your head, of the thought nagging… “How great would it be if I could do this thing I love all day, every day and get paid for it. Be my own boss. Starting a Small business is not for everyone, but it is for me.”
First up, congratulations! You’ve taken a massive step, a big high five for being so brave. But now the hard work starts.
About two-thirds of businesses survive for two years, half of all businesses will survive five years, and one in three will survive 10.
The longer you have been in business, the more likely you are to survive. But that means that getting off to flying start is all the more important.
In this post we are going to focus on the tasks you need to perform in order for your new small business to succeed online. The digital space is not the only area you need to look at but, do you see many successful businesses with bad websites or low social media engagement? No, me either.
Make a list of every item covered in this post that applies to your business (most will apply to every business). When you have ticked them all off your new business will be ready to take on the competition in the battle for rankings, likes, shares and ultimately customers.
Small Business Digital Checklist
Your Business Name & Your Domain Name
Sometimes choosing a name for your business is easy; your name plus what you do, “Joe Bloggs Painting & Decorating,” for example. Other times it can be much more complicated and these days the name of your business doesn’t just appear on your shop sign or the side of your van it is all over the internet; your website and social media. It’s a difficult decision, so here are a few tips
If you are going with .com then SiteGround is good for hosting and domain. If you are choosing .ie then Hosting Ireland have an excellent user experience and friendly interface dashboard. I would still recommend SiteGround for hosting, regardless of the domain extension you choose.
These days, choosing a platform to build your website is pretty much a no brainer… WordPress, it’s the only choice. If you are building it from scratch yourself WordPress offers the most user friendly interface available. If you intend to employ a web designer, choose one that works with WordPress, you will need to use the site after they have finished their work.
This post you are reading, the whole website in fact is built using WordPress, it literally has no limitations. If you can imagine it you can create it.
If you intend selling products, simply instal the WooCommerce plugin and you instantly have an online store. Hotel or bed-and-breakfast? Extend WooCommerce with the Bookings plugin and you can take payment ande reserve room in minutes.
Business Grants & Support
If you are reading this post then starting a small business is at least something you are thinking about. One of the first things you should do is contact your Local Enterprise Office. In my experience they could not be more helpful. There is coaching, courses and mentor programmes available but you might be more interested to know about funding and grants…
The pages listed above give you all the information you need about the help and support available from you Local Enterprise Office. The page focused on The Trading Online Voucher features an interactive map for you tyo locate your closest office as well as a list of contact information.
Search Engine Optimization
You have spoken to your Local Enterprise Office, you have a domain name, web hosting and the start of a successful website what’s next? Easy… you need people to visit your site, and for some of those visitors to become customers. But I’m not going to lie, this is hard work and it can take a long time to rank for the keywords that matter to your business.
One of the first things that every new webmaster should do is install the Yoast SEO plugin on their website. It takes care of almost everything you can think of when it comes to optimizing for the search engines.
While using Yoast SEO you will learn all the basics of optimization as you go via their grading system. The plugin analyses your content before telling what you have right and more importantly what you have wrong.
Set Up Your Social Media Profiles
Much internet wisdom will tell you that you should be on every social media platform, I’m sure this is what you’ve heard. Ok, maybe over a period of years, but for a start-up managing multiple accounts can become overwhelming.
When I first started out running social media for a small decorating company more that 10 years ago there was only really Facebook and Twitter, now there are hundreds of them.
I would suggest that for most small businesses and start-ups starting with just one, and adding platforms over time once you are comfortable with them is the way to go.
There is no point having a profile on 10 different social media platforms and spreading yourself so thin that none of them perform for you.
Start with Facebook. Get used to adding high quality image posts with informative content. Showcase your best work, advertise special offers and don’t forget to invite all of your friend to follow your page. Start using Twitter, and take it from there.
Digital Advertising - Google & Facebook Ads.
SEO and organic social media posting can be a long game, you might generate very little traffic for your first year in business (unless you employ an specialist, click Web Management above) So, what can you do to generate traffic?
Every new website should start advertising on Facebook from day one and look to learn Google Ads or employ a professional shortly after. If your organic efforts on social media and in the search results are successful then over time you might be able to reduce your ad spend, or use it to expand.
Think of the difference between the 2 platforms as this…
Google Ads – Target what a person searches in a given location.
Facebook Ads – Target a particular type of person in any given location.
The links above are a great place to start. Read how we can help your business navigate the online advertising space or learn how to set up your first Goggle Ads campaign from scratch.
I’d say that’s enough for you to be getting on with. Thank you for reading this guide and if there is any aspect of your online business that we can help with please get in touch or leave a comment below.