If you are thinking of starting an online business, or in the process of establishing one, there is a lot to consider.
Regardless of what your online business specializes in, you want to avoid making mistakes that can cost you time and/or money.
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Not only can certain errors make you appear to customers as less professional, but they can sometimes cause you to have legality or liability issues as well. However, the good news is that many problems can be prevented. Here are 6 tips.
1.) Picking the Wrong Domain Name
When you’re trying to choose a domain name for your website, it’s best to pick one that’s not too long, is easy to spell, and that closely matches your business name or the nature of what you’re doing.
When websites have complicated domains, this makes it more difficult for people to find and remember them, which can negatively impact their business.
If you have an idea for a domain name you can check if it’s available here on Bluehost (you can click on ‘Domains’ under the ‘Hosting’ tab) and they also give you a reasonable price for hosting your website, if you choose to set it up through them. Note: You can choose to just use my link to see if a domain is available (it is free to check.)
I personally got my domain name through Bluehost, ( housegonesane.com ) and my site is hosted through them for a low monthly fee. I’m also able to use a custom email with my domain name for no additional charge.
I recommend using a web hosting company in general, because it is way easier to set up and maintain a website this way. Bluehost is one of the web hosting companies you can choose from, and the only one I have personally used.
If you do decide to use my Bluehost link to purchase a domain name and hosting, you will get a discount off of their regular price, which is already pretty affordable. (I would recommend that regardless of who you get web hosting through, that you purchase/sign up for domain privacy.)
2.) Lacking Consistency with Your Domain Name, Email, and Social Media
Be consistent by using your domain for your email address and social media accounts. This can support the growth of your business.
If you’re using different names for your company, website, social media, and/or email, this is going to confuse potential customers. You also don’t want to neglect to set up professional accounts for your business email and social media. Using an old email address or your personal social media account could cause people to question how legitimate your company is.
Keeping your business name as much the same as you possibly can all across the board helps to establish branding. You want people to recognize your name, as they would a logo. The more consistent your business marketing is, the more you will be trusted and remembered.
3.) Failing to Properly Edit Your Content
From your webpages, to your newsletters, to your product descriptions, you want to make sure someone thoroughly rechecks what is written and properly edits it, so everything makes sense and reads clearly. Many websites contain typos and missing words.
If you allow this to happen, it can detract from the professional image you want to convey. Yes, you will no doubt be busy starting or managing your online business. However, you need to make sure someone (whether it’s you or someone else) takes the time to review how everything is displayed on your site.
4.) Not Having a Clear Shipping and Return Policy
Does your online business involves physical products than can be purchased? It should be clear to customers who purchase items approximately when they can expect them to be shipped and arrive.
Your processing time for orders must be clarified somewhere on your website where customers can easily access it. This could be specified with the item’s description, and also included in a link with some of your general / shipping policies.
If an individual wants to return an item, they need to know how to go about it. You also need to be specific with how long after a purchase you will accept returns.
This will depend on your preferences and the type of items you sell. If you expect the customer to pay for shipping on returned items, this needs to be stated in your return policy.
On the other hand, there may be extenuating circumstances, such as an item being damaged on its way to the customer. In this case, you may want to cover shipping fees and send them a replacement with no charge.
You want to make sure that your return/refund policy is specific and includes how you handle situations such as these.
For Digital Products/Services
If you sell digital products or services, you likewise need to clarify if you allow refunds and explain your policies.
5.) Cyber-stalking Your Customers
It’s exciting when you start to get customers who want your products or services. However, you don’t want to contact them too much or in ways they didn’t authorize.
Customers may provide their email address, but you should obtain their permission prior to using it. This is especially true for sending things such as coupons and newsletters.
Additionally, you need to make sure that you provide an ‘unsubscribe’ option with any automated emails. This way people can opt out, if they desire to do so. Also, you want to make sure you are not overdoing it with too many emails, even to those who have consented to receiving your messages.
Make sure any automated systems you use for contacting customers are working properly. You definitely do not want to accidentally send unwanted info to people who have not signed up for emails or have decided to unsubscribe.
For emails, I personally like using ConvertKit because it’s affordable, reliable, and easy to track multiple groups of subscribers. It’s incredibly easy to set up automated emails. You can even check the percentage of and specific subscribers that open them.
Use Social Media Etiquette
You also want to make sure that you are not reaching out to customers by other means, if they have not already contacted you by this method of communication, or if they haven’t given you permission to do so.
For instance, you do not want to seek out a customer on social media who hasn’t responded to your emails. This is unprofessional, and they may view this as harassment. On the other hand, if a person messages your company’s social media account, it would be acceptable to respond.
6.) Neglecting to Update Your Legal/General Policies
Not having updated policies on your website, or worse -never posting them on your site at all- can give you all kinds of potential legal or liability issues. Just because you have liability insurance- which is wise to have- doesn’t mean you should test it out unnecessarily.
It’s a good idea to have an attorney knowledgeable in business/liability take a look through your policies. You can then be sure they are accurate, and that there are no loopholes that could be taken advantage of.
These are just 6 mistakes you can avoid when starting your online business. By taking precautions, being consistent, communicating professionally, and utilizing the proper tools and people, you can succeed in your endeavor.
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Note: I have discontinued work from home/self-employment related articles on my website as I am focusing on my other topics for now, BUT…
If you run a business, even if it’s relatively small, you may have…21 December, 2017