Part One: Taking Your Biz Online in 2015

By Stefanie Neyland, Small Business Content Developer at


The Internet is the biggest marketplace the world has ever seen, and as a business owner, you should be asking yourself how you can leverage its power to work for your business. This February, as part of a four part series, we’ll show you everything you need to know to help you put the proper planning and foundations in place to bring your business online and, most importantly, make it a resounding success.


In today’s increasingly digital world, the days of traditional brick-and-mortar store locations may be limited. Savvy consumers are turning to the Internet to buy their goods and services, and even if your business is predominantly offline, there’s no reason why you can’t take your company online and reap the benefits it can offer. However, for many business owners, the online marketplace can at first seem difficult to navigate. You may be asking questions like:


  • How do I bring my products and services online?

  • What are the technical considerations I need to make?

  • How do I build an effective ecommerce site?

  • How do I get traffic to my website?

  • How do I ship my goods?


But in spite of the questions and doubts you may have about taking your business online, establishing a web presence for your company can be one of the most profitable ways to sell, market and advertise your company’s products or services, and is an avenue well worth exploring for 2015.


So why should you take your business online?

The Internet is a place where you can start out with a small investment and challenge the big companies out there. There are also several other reasons why you should take your business online:


  • You can work from anywhere

  • You can access a wider audience

  • Internet spending is getting larger and larger

  • Internet businesses are open 24/7

  • There are no geographical limitations

  • It’s easily automated

  • The overheads are small


Considerations to make before you launch

As with anything, there are upsides and downsides to running an online business. Here are some considerations you should be making before making the decision to take your company online:


  • Some consumers may have security concerns when it comes to buying online

  • People are often skeptical when sharing personal financial information

  • Managing online and offline inventory can be challenging

  • Coordinating shipping is an added consideration

  • You may have to deal with refunds when products aren’t what customers expected them to be

  • You could encounter technical problems with your online business

  • There will be a reduced amount of customer contact


Before taking your business online, modify your business and marketing plans

Update your business plan, or devise a completely new plan, to support the growth of your new online opportunity. Additionally, just like any offline business, you will need to market your website. Be sure to develop a new marketing plan specifically for your online activities.

To get a free business plan or marketing plan template, visit the BizLaunch website.


Understand who your online market is

Just like the traditional marketplace, online businesses can’t exist without customers. For online businesses, these customers come in the form of site visitors. However, in order to direct visitors to your site, you first need to understand the market you’re trying to reach.


Market research is the process of collecting information from your current or potential customers, and the information you glean from them will form the foundation of your business plan. If you haven’t yet researched your online market properly, now is the time to start. To build a firm foundation for your business, you need to develop an idea of the type of customer you’re trying to market to. Identifying your target customer allows you to:


  • Assess the demand for your product or service

  • Modify your product or service to meet the needs of your customer

  • Devise a marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience


The people who are most likely to buy your products or services will probably share certain characteristics, and the first step in identifying your ideal consumer is by creating a profile of them. Factors you may consider for your customer profile include age, location, gender, income, marital status and occupation. You can learn about your target audience by conducting primary and secondary market research like surveys, interviews, focus groups, and reviewing national statistics.


The Internet changes so rapidly that often one year online can equal up to five years in the real world, but ultimately, starting an Internet business offers a promising and exciting venture. As long as you take the necessary due diligence, you should be well on your way to achieving online success.


Remember: the principles of starting and growing are the same both online and offline, so apply the same logic to your online endeavours as you would with your offline business. Don’t miss part two of our “Taking Your Biz Online in 2015” series, set to go live next Wednesday February 11th.

By Andrew Patricio

February 04, 2015