Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar company or an online-focused enterprise, getting your startup business online will require some creative thinking. There’s the naming, domains, SEO, social media presence and online marketing to worry about. If you don’t know where to begin, read on – as we’ve done some of the homework for you.
Step 1: Branding
If you don’t have an established name for your business, perhaps the best place to start is the Internet. Keep in mind that there are tons of startup businesses online, and the first name that pops into your mind might already be taken. Moreover, if you do come up with a good-sounding name, make sure to check for online results when searching for that name, in order to prevent a situation where the name of your business is associated with something else (intellectual property, piracy, political connotations, etc).
If you’ve completed the steps above, it’s a good idea to check up if a domain with your name is available. For this, you can use a domain registrar of your choice. If your domain is available – you're in luck! Go ahead and register it.
Alternatively, if the domain is taken, you have three choices: a). purchase it from the owner, if it’s for sale, b). look for a different TLD extension, c). come up with a different name.
- If you’re absolutely set on owning the domain with this particular extension (for example, .com), purchasing it from the current owner might be a possibility. However, this might be a little pricey, as entrepreneurs often register dozens of domain names with hopes of re-selling them for profit in the future. Also, beware of scammers and off-shore domain registrars. Remember, it’s best to go through a well-established and trusted intermediary.
- When the TLD extension is taken (for example, .com), you always have the option of searching for another Top Level Domain, such as .net, .org, .pl (Poland), .de (Germany), .co.uk (UK), .ca (Canada), and etc. You might find out that although your preferred domain extension is taken, another one might be up for grabs. Also, certain domain extensions might be cheaper!
- Sometimes everything is simply taken and not for resale. In this situation, it’s best to start the research process for your startup business online once again.
Last, but not least, it’s always a good idea to double-check your domain or business name across a slang dictionary. What may appear innocent to you, might have an entirely different connotation to the on-line community.
Step 2: Website
How should an ideal business website look like? Well… there are no clear guidelines. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remember:
Your website is your online business card
First impressions last a lifetime, and that’s an opportunity no startup business should miss.
The website should be fast-loading
Slow-loading websites are viewed negatively both by users and by search engines. In short, with an under-performing website, your business will rank the lowest in search results.
Regardless of your sector, your website needs to be technologically-modern
This is where aspects such as responsive design, SEO-friendly code and other technical aspects come in. Without a modern back-end, regardless of its aesthetics, your website will always rank low in search results. If you’re not familiar with the above-mentioned technical aspects, or you’re just starting out with web design, it might be a good idea to consult a professional website development company. Certain companies – such as us – can build a website for you from grounds-up or help you along the way with your code. The end-goal should always be a fast, responsive and SEO-friendly website. In business terms, a click lost is a client lost.
Step 3: Show your startup's presence
This might be optional, however, many business owners agree that it helps tremendously with getting new clients. We’re talking about social media presence.
Some startups choose to do this in-house: setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts, generating a userbase and adding relevant content. This is definitely the best idea for those on a tight budget.
Other companies with deeper pockets opt-in for a professionally-managed social media service. There is a multitude of social media management companies out there who have the skills and expertise in running well-performing social media sites. The ROI can vary, so it’s best to double-check the reputation of each company. In our opinion, it’s best to rely on a word-of-mouth recommendation, if you’re not entirely sure which company to go with.
Last, but not least, we have to point out two possibilities when it comes to social media presence: a). building an organic following base, b). social media advertising.
- These two differ in the fact that the first option can be done entirely for free, only at the expense of your time. After all, someone with the right communication skills has to come up with an overall theme for your account, decide which content gets published and, most of all, generate the content which will bring in visitors.
- The second option is always a paid one. Here it’s better to do social media market research and strategically choose which social media platform you want to invest in. For example, LinkedIn is a social media platform for business professionals. Here B2B advertisements will perform much better, than for example, on Twitter. Conversely, if you have a B2C offer, Facebook and Instagram might be your best bet, while LinkedIn might not perform so well.
Step 4: Build trust
Building trust of your startup business online might seem like a strange task, given that there’s always a certain feeling of anonymity online as we conduct business from the privacy of our homes or offices. However, with a certain amount of work a feeling of trust can be established. Look into the following:
Add your business location to a map
Whether it’s Google, Bing, Targeo, Yandex or any other service, adding a physical location of your business always legitimizes your brand in the eyes of Internet users.
There are tons of review websites out there. Some even allow you to place a widget with customer reviews right on your website. Personalized, verified reviews let your prospective customers know that you’re running a trusted, well-performing business.
Build up a community
Newsletters, giveaways, discounts. All these create a sense of attachment and loyalty to your brand.
There’s nothing particularly difficult about getting a startup business online. However, prospering online is an entirely different story. The decisions we make today when starting out online will have a long-lasting effect in the future. Whether it’s the right business name, the right domain, proper logo or visual identity – it’s best to do some background research before settling out on creating a startup online presence.
Without a doubt, some of the work can be the done-in house. This includes designing your own logo, coming up with a name, registering a domain, building a website and creating social media presence. At the same time, a business owner is not always necessarily a jack of all trades, and relying on professional services, although at first costly, can definitely bring in best ROI.
When it comes to the technical aspects of getting your startup business online, unless you’re absolutely technology-savvy, it’s best to go along with a reputable website development company. The reasons are numerous: utilizing the right technologies to create modern, optimized technologies requires extensive know-how. Web development companies also provide a holistic service: they can design the website layout for you, advise on how to present your products or services, or provide you with a graphic designer as part of delivering the project. Most importantly, website development companies know the latest trends in online security – and this is something businesses cannot afford to shrug. While data breaches in certain countries may result in a loss of confidence of the consumers, in the European Union this also can mean hefty fines.