Switching to Virtual Business: how to take your business online quickly and effectively

All of a sudden everyone wants and needs to be online and have a virtual business. Whether you have a physical products store, or a service based business now is the time to move if you want to survive. Here’s some things to consider as you take the leap:

1. Know what you want your website to achieve

Whether you are building an online store or you want to be able to provide guitar lessons via video conferencing, understanding what you want to achieve goes a long way to  helping identify what type of tools and apps you need to support your business goals. 

It’s not just a website … you may need shop software, inventory management, payment gateways, instant messaging, video conferencing, mailing lists or more. Setting out exactly what your business goals are will help to define what tech you will need.

2. What do you want site visitors to do when they get there?

All the advertising in the world is a waste of money if you don’t know what you want your visitors to do when they arrive at your site. Take some time to map out your customers’ journey. Where do you want them to land – what will be there first impression of your business when they land there?

What do you want them to do once they are on your site – do you want them to read about why you set up the business, understand your brand, engage with your values or do you simply want them to shop and purchase. There is no right or wrong answer to this question – but you do need to have an answer which suits your business and your business goals.

3. Who will help you with the tech?

Finding someone to help you with the tech will be partly dependent on what you are trying to achieve. Some developers are great at online ecommerce stores, some are terrific at mailing lists, others will write great copy that converts – or put you in touch with someone that can. Some like the technical database aspects more than the design.  Review my guide to engaging a web designer here.

4. Be prepared to put the time in

While you may think you are handing the task over to someone else to complete, you still need to be fully engaged in the process if you are to get the result you are looking for.

Web Designers are great at interpreting your brand’s values, your business goals and your unique business language, but they are not mind readers. You need to be prepared to work closely with them as they develop your site so you get the exact product you are expecting.

They will need help understanding how you are going to ship products, package products, groups your products as well as discount offers, product sizes and weights. You will need to provide them with lots of information about physical products you might be selling.

Similarly if you are selling services which you can deliver in a virtual environment, they will need to work with you to find the best tools for delivering those.

5. Know your budget

It is a great idea to know what your budget is. Your web designer should be able to advise you what type of site you will get for your budget and they should be able to offer you options at different price points.

Be prepared to build your site in stages. Understand what your top priorities are if you have a limited budget and make sure you get the immediate cash flow sorted if that is an issue. 

6. Use great images and iconography

A great website will be easy on the eye, reflect your brand in its images, icons and colours. Taking the time and effort to have beautiful product shots taken or professional images produced will be worth the investment and the time when your site comes together. 

If building your brand and an engaged audience is your goal, you are better off to have amazing looking professional photography and less bells and whistles than to skimp on photos at the expense of functionality.

Most people spend less than 8 seconds on your site before they decide whether to stay or leave. Great photos and images will help them stay a little longer. Here’s my guide to finding and using amazing images on your site.

7. Commit to Maintenance

Just like a house which needs painting occasionally, cleaning regularly and repairs sometimes, your website will need ongoing maintenance to keep it in tip top condition, functioning well, maintaining good site speed and delivering results in search engines.

Don’t let your website become stagnant and out-dated. It’s not a good look for your business and Google loves new content so adding new things to your site regularly can boost your ranking. Creating a blog can be a great, simple way to do that.

8. Track visitors and their actions on your site

Analysing what happens on your site will help inform you about where you may need to tweak content, calls to action or the customer journey through your site.

Understanding who is visiting, how long they are staying for and from which point they are leaving can all assist you to make your site even better.

Managing cart abandonment by follow up emails and further calls to action can help turn an indecisive looker to a purchaser. Knowing the goals of your website will help your designer set up the right tracking tools for your site.

8. Choose a great domain name

Having a URL that people can easily remember can really help people come back to your site regularly, improve your search results and save you from a lot of spelling and explaining! Using simple words and spelling in conjunction with your brand identity will make it easy for people to remember. I wrote more about this here.

There are several good sites for finding out if domain names are available. I use NetRegistry – they’re an Australian company and their prices are reasonable. Or ask your web designer to help you find just the right name.

10. You get what you pay for

There are plenty of subscription style websites which you will never fully own which can give you a quick website for not much cash.

If you want to take control of your online presence then you will need to invest in your own domain name, hosting and web design.

You do get what you pay for and quality web design takes time, expertise and work.

Even a ‘simple’ one page website needs to direct visitors through the customer journey, create calls to action and provide enough interest to keep people engaged so will take time to develop.

Making sure your site reads well, has images that complement your brand and the words and becomes a positive experience for everyone takes time. And that’s just the front end.

There are a number of behind the scenes technical aspects to consider to ensure your site works as intended, delivers fast page and image load,  ranks well in search engines and works across a range of devices from mobiles, tablets, laptops and PCs.

Taking your business online is an exciting time and can really help boost your sales – especially in times like these.

An online store gives you a virtual shop front to promote your products and services as well as providing you with extra revenue from additional sales to people who may never physically walk past your business premises or know you exist except through the wonder of search engines.

If you’d like to chat more about getting your business online, click below.


Found a spelling or grammatical error in this post? Then contact me as soon as possible and let me know. In return for your super proof reading, I will offer you a free 30-minute review of your digital presence and some fresh ideas you can try out for free.

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If you’d like help with getting your business online fast, I can help you to:

  1. Clarify your target market and your business goals.
  2. Identify the type of online presence that will help grow your business
  3. Get you online as soon as possible to improve your bottom line

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