First came the internet, then came a new source of income for many. You might be one of those many who is ready to take the plunge and start an online business. Regardless of whether you’re seeking financial independence or simply want a side gig by monetizing your passion or hobby, starting an online business can be a profitable, successful idea. That is if it is done properly. Entrepreneurship can be challenging and it takes a lot of hard work to see results. Sometimes, even those who work hard don’t see the desired results. While entrepreneurship offers a lot of advantages, it’s certainly not a glamorous lifestyle and there are no guarantees that your startup will actually make it. This, however, shouldn’t discourage you from trying. If you want your online business to succeed, you need to first have a few things clear: Why are you doing it What will you be doing What are the challenges and obstacles you’ll need to overcome Determine whether there really is a true market gap/need Determine how much competition you will have Understand that financial stability is not guaranteed. If you check the above, validating your idea, and found your niche, then you’re ready to launch. By the time you launch, you need to have at least the following ready: A name A logo and slogan A website Social media presence Physical presence (if you will be selling a product rather than a service). Beyond the above, there are three things you should carefully consider when you launch your online business to improve your chances of success. 3 Online Business Elements You Need to Have 1. Excellent Customer Service Today’s consumers don’t purchase a product or a service, they purchase an experience. This is why retail stores and company headquarters have become more amenity oriented; they want people to have a unique experience with their brand. One of the best ways to ensure that your online business delivers a unique experience is by providing great customer service across all touchpoints. Regardless of what you’re selling, you need to make sure that potential customers have a seamless experience across all touchpoints with your brand: through the website, social media, calls, email, etc. If you’re running an online business from home and are still in the early stages and working by yourself, then keeping up with customer service related queries and issues can be daunting. While you may not be at a point where you are ready to hire a full-time in-house customer service representative, you should consider other alternatives. One great solution for many online businesses and startups is to hire a live receptionist. Basically, a live receptionist is a remote worker that fulfills the same tasks and duties as an in-house receptionists, and they are a great option for online businesses because live receptionist services can be customized and personalized to specific business needs–they greet callers with your company name, they use your brand voice, they can aid in fulfilling orders, scheduling appointments, answer frequently asked questions, and capture qualified leads. Great customer service is associated with increased brand loyalty and referrals. 2. Content Marketing If you want to attract clients and customers, then you need to embrace content marketing. There are a couple of reasons why content marketing is a key component of any successful business strategy. Content marketing helps with SEO purposes. When done right, it can help improve your ranking in online searches. Content marketing can also help position you and your brand as thought-leaders and experts; if people find that the content you share is valuable, authentic, and useful, they are more likely to purchase from you than from your competition — in simple words, content marketing can help drive conversion. Content marketing is also a great way to increase brand awareness, which is especially important for online business and startups. Fact is, sometimes people don’t know they need a service or product until they stumble across it. By creating and pushing out content you can easily increase your brand awareness and there are plenty of benefits that come when people are able to recognize and recall your brand. Depending on the product or service that you’re selling, content marketing can help educate the market about what you’re offering. This is especially important for those launching an online business that is offering innovative and lesser-known products and services. Pro tip: content marketing isn’t just about posting articles or blogs. Be creative and use video, podcasts, and images in your content marketing efforts. 3. Embrace the Power of Networking You’ve probably heard it before, but to build a successful business you need to focus on your networking efforts. These efforts can be done online or in-person, but the idea is to make sure you’re being active about meeting people, telling them about your brand and product or service, and building strategic relationships. Beyond finding potential clients, networking can help you find potential business partners, vendors, investors, and employees. If you’re selling a product, attend local networking events where you are likely to find potential partners that let you showcase your product or put up flyers in their establishments. If you’re selling a service, reaching out to your local community and offering them at a special rate can help you build your portfolio. As for online networking, LinkedIn remains one of the best platforms to do it, so make sure you spruce up your profile and that you are an active member; post articles, share blogs, and participate in group discussions. Final Thoughts While nothing can guarantee your online businesses’ success, being strategic about where you invest your available resources can go a long way in getting you on the right path. Keep in mind that the internet has made it possible for a lot of people to have a source of income, and there is a lot of competition out there. Making sure your brand stands out from the crowd through exceptional customer service, valuable content, and authentic relationships can increase your chances of success in the short and long term.