It might not come as a surprise that this blog is about business, but more specifically, owning a business in a world that is so focused on technology. Business models, however, have evolved throughout the years. Let’s think back to the early part of the last century; in 1908, Ford released the first motor vehicle, the Model T. Small business owners at this time were operating out of brick and mortar establishments, where their brand was known as far as the city limits and services were limited to individuals or families.
Fast forward to 2016 — Tesla announced all the vehicles being produced have self-driving hardware, and almost every young person is an entrepreneur with their business based entirely online.
I embrace change and have gone from selling tangible goods out of the trunk of my car to owning several successful e-commerce companies, the latest (also my pride and joy) being A Nerd’s World. What I am trying to say is that every business owner needs to keep up with changing trends. I knew that only having a storefront, would not meet the demands of my customers, and there was a whole other market that was waiting to be tapped. In response to the ever-changing market landscape, I placed a large emphasis on digital channels, especially my Toronto web development services, content marketing, and Toronto Search Engine Optimization.
Five years later, A Nerd’s World is Toronto’s best SEO and web development company. Success didn’t happen because I was lucky- – allowed my business to grow and evolve to meet the demands of tech-obsessed customers who perform their due diligence through extensive Google searches. In this blog, I will make references to people who live in the past. In no way do I want to offend older generations, however, there are so many successful small business owners who refuse to embrace technology and in turn, limit their company’s growth and audience reach.
I understand the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” however, I’m the type of guy who likes to break things to see how things work, then rebuild them to make them better. The following are my eight tips on growing an online business to meet the needs of the evolving consumer.
Tip 1: There’s a barber down the street from my store — He’s a great barber and has cut my hair on a few occasions. I have noticed that he has many empty chairs. Once, I asked him if he had a website, to which he replied “I don’t need all of that. I’ve been in the Yellow Pages for years.” For those reading this, no matter what your age is, I’d wager that you have not flipped through the Yellow Pages in years. I know you’re proud of the success you’ve had throughout the decades, but it’s time to stop reliving your glory days. Having a business website today is equivalent to being listed in the yellow pages. As a business owner, it should be mandatory, and it’s like a storefront. It’s what people see before they even know what your business is about, and as you know, many people judge a product on what they see on the outside.
Tip 2: I know my next tip will make a lot of you cringe — For all you dinosaurs, I want you to stop avoiding social media. Sign up for all of the social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, Linkedin, YouTube … all of them. There are thousands of people you can reach that would have been impossible to contact twenty years ago. After signing up, make sure you follow influencers in your industry, share content often, and engage with your followers. If you dedicate time and research to social media, you’ll eventually gain a following and if you’re lucky, become an influencer.
Tip 3: Create original content that will engage your audience and appear on your website blog.
Tip 4: Customer service is still critical. A lot of people think because a business is online, it’s automated–this is a myth. It’s as important now as ever, especially with customers sharing their experiences on sites like Yelp or Google.
Tip 5: When you know you’ve provided exceptional service, and your customers are happy, ask for a positive review. Positive reviews and recommendations make your company more reputable, and therefore more trustworthy.
Tip 6: Engage with celebrities, get products out to famous people. With social media and Google, it’s a lot easier to contact their agents and managers. Get samples of your product out–the more lines you cast, the more results you’ll yield. If a celebrity likes your product and shares it with their followers, it will open doors to an infinite number of possibilities.
Tip 7: Set aside a small budget for paid advertising. Running a $5 or $10 campaign on Facebook will help you reach a very targeted audience based on your marketing needs. Even if one person out of the hundred that your ad reaches converts, then you’ve already turned a profit.
Tip 8: My final tip involves continual learning. There are so many online resources for entrepreneurs to educate themselves on current market trends. I’m always on YouTube trying to find ways to improve my business model. My final tip applies not only to an online business but life. Never stop learning.
If you have any questions at all please let me know,
Chris A. Hughes