Staking your claim online used to be as simple as registering a domain name. Many times the registrar would not only provide the website address registration, but would provide a limited hosting plan and a simple template to build a website for a little extra money. So deciding to do business online could be fully accomplished by going to your favorite registrar in a few hours on the weekend. And while many companies trying to sell you web services will claim that this is totally possible today, the reality is that properly staking your claim online will take more resources, emotional work, and iteration to get it right.
Don’t Underestimate the Task
Staking your claim as a business can be a lot to take in no matter how technical you consider yourself. Building your website or web presence is no small task. As a business, it is fair to say that you could spend as much or as little as your business can financially allow building your web presence. Most likely if you are reading this article, you or your business desires more than what it is currently doing online. In future articles, we will discuss the details to establishing your business website. From registering a website address (a.k.a. a domain name), to setting up website hosting, to detailed execution plans for building a website. We will cover it, so stay tuned.
The Reality of the Situation
The tools available to stake your business’ claim online have never been better, but they do not skip the process it takes to build your business’ brand online. Yes, the tools make all of the bits and pieces easier, but the tools do not take away the emotional work involved in building your website, or what I will call stacking your claim. For many small busiensses (SMB), this might be the first time they have solidified the message they are proclaiming to the world. Marketing has always been something businesses want to get better at, but to this point has always been something to get pushed to the back of the line when it comes to priorities.
3 Common Mistakes SMB Make
- Allowing the tools to intimidate
- Focusing too much on the tools
- Failing to focus on what’s important
The Important Things
- Refine Your Message
- Choose Your Strategy
- Create a Plan for Execution
Refine Your Message
Your message is a large part of what makes your business unique. This is what sets you apart from your competitor down the street or online. Your messsage is why one small busieness will choose you even though you might cost more than your competitor. Your message is your unique value to the world. This could be your company values, how you operate, or a process which makes your business different from the others. Your message could be talking about a set of skills or experiences which better qualifies your business to meet the needs of your customers. Whatever your message is, figure this out before you start to build your business online. No need to wait, you can start this process regardless of what you do or do not have online.
Some Message Examples
- We believe strongly in the importance of values x, y, z. Because of this we incorporate a, b, c as a part of our process.
- We believe strongly in supporting artists and creative individuals. Based on this value we pay our contractors 5 % over and above industry average.
- We believe that there’s nothing more important than time with family. Because of this we provide all of our employees and contractors with the flexibility to work from home whenver they choose without questioning their motives.
Choose Your Strategy
Your strategy is what your business is choosing to do or be online over everything else that is possible today. It could be based on research your business has done to better understand your customers. It could be that by choosing to target a certain segment of customers your business will build your online presence which focuses on a certain group or demographic of business. Your strategy should be informed or influenced by the customers you are seeking and how your business is going to uniquely meet their needs.
Your Plan of Execution
The tools, platforms, and methodologies involved in building your business’ web presence are all important, but what will really dictate success is the execution plan of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Sometimes this means hiring a consultant to help guide your business through the project management and/or the technical details. Managing a project such as this is not a small matter, but it is not impossible either. Give proper attention and resources into creating a plan on how to reach your business’ goals. Give yourself or your team members permision to make mistakes and the flexibility to adjust when they spot a mistake. Set realistic timeslines and goals with the understanding that this is a fluid process.
Some Execution Examples
- Allocating (ENTER APPROPRIATE ESTIMATE HERE) number of hours per week for each team member towards the completion of content which expresses our company values, process, and methodologies.
- Team members: Stacy, John, Isabella, and Eddie
- Deadline: a tentative deadline of (MONTH DAY, YEAR) before moving on to company strategy.
What businesses ultimately need to focus on is where they place time, attention, and resources. Understanding some of the common mistakes businesses make in this process will help to avoid certain pitfalls which can cause this process to get off course or fail to meet business goals. Taking time to address what is truly important and building a plan around this understanding can ensure that a business comes out the other end with a thriving place for their business online. The rewards of properly executing this process can propel a small business far beyond their goals and aspirations.