Running a brand or business online today keeps getting more sophisticated. To thrive, you need to keep acquiring relevant skills that can help you to stay better in business. Nigeria’s online marketplace keeps getting larger as the years pass. According to Statista, the internet penetration rate is about 70% and the number of online shoppers in Nigeria is around 76 million.
As the internet penetration increases, the number of people who sell online also expectedly increases. More and more brands, from micro-businesses to large corporations, are getting to realize that the world is now digital and not being online would mean having to lose a lot of money on the table.
There is so much ado about doing business online and reasonably so. However, what factors guarantee success for an online business owner? What distinguishes people who eventually thrive building an online business from those who struggle? What determines ultimate success for the people who have it and for those who do not?
The answer to this, for a start, often lies in the skills that each individual acquires and effectively uses to move their business forward. In this blog post, you will be learning some of the top skills you should have in your arsenal if you want to succeed online.
1. Research, Planning & Strategy
To effectively gain customers, you must know how to research and plan for your potential customers. This is the first stage a lot of small brands miss. To increase your chances of success, you should get your research, planning and strategy right. Here, you want to ask yourself questions like:
- What are we selling?
- What are our unique selling propositions?
- Who are we serving?
- Where can we find them online/offline?
- What age, gender or location are they?
A clarification of what you offer would allow you to know how to craft your messaging in such a way that people want to buy from you. Understanding who you are serving and where they can be found online will also help you to prevent ineffective marketing and wasted efforts.
Having a clue of what I call the most basic questions of marketing will help you to better understand where to market, how to position yourself, what to pay attention to and what you ignore. It will also guide your efforts as you go on and help you to stay on track.
“To increase your chances of success, you should get your research, planning and strategy right”.
As a brand owner, you cannot ignore the effects of networking. You need to be open to creating connections with different sets of people in order to grow and sustain your business. You need people because they hold the key to the next level of your business. Also, networking is not just about thinking of how to get from people you perceive have something to give you, it is also you thinking ahead of ways to deliver value to them as well. Always remember that networking thrives on value. Some kinds of networking relationships you should look out for are:
- Potential clients and customers: A lot of times, you will need to reach out to the people you consider your potential clients or customers. This is called prospecting. When you let them know about the benefits of your product or service, they are likely to want to buy from you if it’s something they need or want.
- Partners and collaborators: There are people who have something you need to grow your brand. It could be a larger audience, physical resources or a network. You can consider ways to network with people like these for the purpose of collaborations. This way, both sides win.
- Investors: To scale your business, you might need investors. You may consider debt financing, equity financing or even grants to get more funds to expand your business. Therefore, you want to pay attention to the people who are likely to either be able to invest in your business or can introduce you to people who can.
- Mentors: With appropriate mentorship and guidance, you are able to move faster and also avoid mistakes that those ahead of you have made. Finding the right kind of mentors, a lot of top business owners say, is instrumental to your growth as an entrepreneur.
“Networking is not just about thinking of how to get from people you perceive have something to give you, it is also you thinking ahead of ways to deliver value to them as well”.
3. Sales and Online Marketing
There are different forms/branches of online marketing that are necessary to thrive online. As you definitely know by now, sales and marketing are the lifelines of any business. Without this, a business could go underway in no time. Some of the most popular online/digital marketing branches include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Through this, you are able to drive organic traffic to your website. If you run an e-commerce site, SEO should be one of your top long-term marketing strategies.
- Content Marketing: Through this, you are able to research, create, distribute and measure content that is relevant to your audience and target towards specific goals. Content marketing is important because it shows you ways through which you can show that you care for your potential customers without being salesy. You can sign up for our content creation and marketing course here.
- Email Marketing: With an email list, you have a database of people who are likely to be interested in what your business offers. This allows you to build a relationship with your existing and potential customers.
- Copywriting: It is not enough to ask people to come and buy from you. You must also be able to craft your offers in such a way that convinces them to buy. This is known as copywriting. As an online business owner, if you are unable to convince people to buy from you, you will struggle with sales.
- Social Media Ads: Running adverts online can help you reach larger audiences, especially if you are unknown or have a small business. With a small budget for Facebook Ads, you can reach thoudands of people.
“Sales and marketing are the lifelines of any business”.
4. Graphic Design
Everything is visual and for a highly visual world, you will be losing much of your audience if you are not focusing on the kind of designs you’re creating. Good graphic designs will help you:
- Communicate the value of your brand, products and services
- Consistently develop a visual identity of your brand in the minds of your audience.
If you’re building your business with a lean budget, you can learn how to use tools like Canva or to create your designs yourself and save more money. Tools like Coreldraw and Photoshop are also amazing tools, although they take more time to master
5. Online Customer Service
Running an online business is almost the same as running an offline business. However, if your business functions solely online, then it means that you must have your online customer service in place. Customer service allows you to ensure the satisfaction of your customers, retain them and resolve complaints amicably. In our world today, a single call-out from someone online can cost your business a lot of money and brand reputation. Hence, paying attention to your customers is a major way to pay attention to your business too. Tools like Hubspot CRM allow you to manage your customer database properly.
6. Business Analysis
Whatever is not measured cannot grow. It is not enough to start an online business, you must also be able to analyse on a regular basis. This will allow you to understand what is working, what is not working, what to keep doing, what to stop doing and what to review. It might seem like a huge task but you can start out with keeping records about the small things that happen. If you are able to hire a business analyst, it would also take the stress of your neck.
7. Crisis Management
What happens if someone tweets that your business duped them of a huge sum of money? Before you even come online, the tweet has gotten thousands of engagements and hundreds of angry people are mentioning your Twitter handle. Every online business, no matter how great, should have a crisis management plan. While your business might not face a huge public crisis, it does not hurt to have a plan. What would you consider as a possible crisis for your business field? How will you react when something like this happens? What steps will you take to resolve the situation and restore possibly lost trust?
There are many other skills you need as a business owner who operates online. Some of them take a little while to develop while others that are more complex may require a longer time to master. Hence, it is vital to maintain a curious and willing-to-grow attitude so that you can always increase your capacity to succeed at doing business.
Are you a small business owner? What skills do you believe are necessary for all business owners to thrive? Share your thoughts in the comments. Share with a fellow business owner.
Everyday, I observe business people and deeply appreciate the fact that people engage in a legitimate means of survival. I am usually fascinated by how far people can go to ensure they earn a living. At times, I come across people who sell stuff that I most likely would never have anything to do with. And I find myself wondering why exactly these people have chosen to sell these things. Is it that they just love the items they’re selling? Or is it that they don’t want to enter a competitive market by selling what everyone else is? Or is it that the desire to make money just exceeds the need to consider the market well? I just may never know.
I believe everybody who wants to start up a business or who is looking at providing services should ask themselves vital questions like:
-Who will buy what I want to sell? Business isn’t just about selling what you like to sell or selling what you think will sell. It is selling what people will buy. And I know you’ve heard that you shouldn’t go into business for the money but trust me, nobody wants to be in a business that’s gulping down all their costs and giving them close to nothing in return, unless it’s a charity organization.
-Where are the people who want to buy what I want to sell? If you’ve sat down and considered the above, then you should make the effort to know where your buyers are. Are they on a street? Are they in a big market? Oh, are they online? Find these out. This would help you in getting to know how to get your market to your consumers. It is also vital to know that something that sells well in Abuja may not sell in Lagos.
-How do I get my market to people who will buy it? Now that you know who will buy your products and where they can be found, how can I get it to them? If they’re online, you definitely would have to invest your resources into social media marketing. If they’re offline, you should develop a plan to either be located close to them or make arrangements to make it available to them if you can’t be physically close to them.
Of course, building and establishing a business definitely requires more than this on a larger scale but for starters, I believe this would help.
What other questions should every business person ask before launching out? Please comment below.
With the little time I have spent on the social media, one of the vital things I’ve had to relate to, learn and use are hashtags. Hashtags have basically been a part of my journey on social media and I would attribute my job as a social media manager to that. What I have observed over the years, though, is that hashtags are relatively becoming more popular than they were on social media a few years ago, especially on Facebook which was initially not designed to accommodate hashtags.
I love to use hashtags for whatever project I am embarking on because asides the fact that hashtags are cool, they very much pass your message across without you having to talk much. However, it is highly repulsive when I see someone use an hashtag in the wrong way. So, since I am tired of seeing such on my timelines, I have written this for the common social media user. Of course, they should help you if you’re looking at using hashtags for an upcoming event or for your business but this is basically for everyday use.
Hashtags are words following an Hash (#) character and are directed at passing a message across concerning a situation, an event, a business and whatever have you at first sight. In other words, when I see an hashtag, I should have a basic knowledge of what message you are trying to pass across. So an hashtag is meant to give an idea of what you’re trying to tell us- succinct and interesting.
What To Know Generally About Hashtags:
1. Hashtags are not meant to replace your long sentences (although this can be permitted on Instagram) but on Facebook and Twitter, please stick to short phrases. Don’t go writing something like, “#Ilovemymummysomuchicoulddieforher” or something like that. That is a very wrong way to use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook. Let your hashtags be short, straight-to-the-point and yes, relatable.
In the same way, you do not have to start all the words of your sentences with an hashtag. Writing something like, ” #Courage #is #needed #to #succeed” is totally off. Please be warned.
2. When using an hashtag, know that the word(s) you are meant to use should be directly behind the hash character. Don’t write something like, ” # Success” else you’ll be having an hash and a tag and not an hashtag. Okay?
3. When using hashtags, don’t use any punctuation marks in between (commas, fullstops, colon, hyphen etc). Punctuation marks will break your hashtag. Underscores (_), however, are allowed.
4. If you do not need to use an hashtag, really do not. I get displeased when I see people using hashtags that have no use in the first place. If all you need is a sentence, write your sentence. If all you need to write is an ordinary word, write it. Like I mentioned earlier, hashtags are meant to be phrases which can convey information on first sight, or at least, make people want to find out what the hashtag is about.
5. For business owners and organizations, be creative in your use of hashtags. You want hashtags that people could, over time, attach to your brand so use hashtags that are unique to your brand, specific, catchy and ones that can stick to the heads of your customers. So, as a personal advice, stick to one or two official hashtags for your brand. I could help out with this if you need help. I have a history of creating good hashtags ?
6. Asides Instagram, one or two hashtags are quite enough for every tweet or post of yours. You do not need to design your tweets and posts on Facebook with hashtags. Instagram allows this though.
I hope this helped. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer.
You could connect with me on these platforms:
Facebook: Orifunke Lawal
E-mail: [email protected]