Buying an Online Business Gives you Flexibility, Freedom and Potential
Online businesses can be managed from anywhere via the Internet. It can involve selling physical products, digital products or professional services and memberships.
The biggest difference between running a physical business and a virtual business is the need to use software and online services to perform most of the tasks you do.
Tasks for Running an Online Business
You need to perform regular market research to understand how the products and services you offer relate to other competitors.
This knowledge gives you a better understanding of the value of what you offer and how to differentiate it from what else is available in the “market”.
You also need to study and know as much about your own products and services as possible and this includes features, special offers and how customers are supported after the sale is made.
Marketing is the task of defining products and services and promoting them to potential customers.
Although there is a LOT involved in marketing most online business owners simply need to know:
- What products are available, how much they cost and where to find the information
- How potential customers will make contact and the best way to reply, including what to say
Customer Service begins when someone first makes contact with your business. This could be via a phone call, via email or by completing an online “lead capture” form.
Website chat is becoming more important as a way for potential customers to make contact with your business right when they are at your website.
You’ll need to know how to use website chat software and what to say to prospects when they make contact.
Pre sales support involved understanding what to ask to better understand the customers needs and financial position to then recommend one or two options that suits their situation.
Online Sales & Followup
Not everyone is ready to buy from you while they are at your website but it’s important to followup with them for when they ARE ready to buy.
A prospect might be ready to buy in 2 weeks or it might be in 3 months but most people won’t make contact unless they have a genuine need.
It is important to have a sales pipeline and a way of keeping in touch with them. This could involve email broadcast, personal followup emails, an occasional text message or a phone call from time to time.
The more often you speak with prospects the more you will know whether to keep them in your “sales pipeline” or whether to take them out.
Some of them you’ll lose to competitors and when you do you need to learn why.
Delivering the Product or Service
Once a sales is made the process of fulfillment begins. Depending on the type of business you operate you might need to pack and deliver the products or services.
If you own an online business where the logistics will be handled by someone else you need to make sure that you can answer all customer’s “post sales” customer service questions until the products or services have been provided.
Accounting & Finance
If you are selling the product or service you’ll need to collect payment, provide invoices and receipts and then manage your purchases, costs and expenses.
The gross profit is the difference between the selling price and your wholesale price and operating costs are deducted to give you the net profit – that’s the simple version. More complex accounting questions come into pay when you purchase inventory, rent premises, pay depreciation but that won’t apply for most small online businesses.
Most of the steps above can be performed proficiently by the business owner if it’s a small business. If your online business is larger you’ll have hired help to perform some of these tasks.
You need to know who will be performing the work.