Turn Your Online Business Into A Fortress

The internet has made it possible for so many people to build businesses from their own home; it saves them on paying rent for a premises, it makes it cheaper for them to advertise their products and services, and it gives them a wider customer base to buy their products. Unfortunately, no one really considers that online businesses have a few vulnerabilities that aren’t usually seen in physical stores. Whether you’re conducting your business part-time, or you depend on it as your sole source of income, here are a few vulnerabilities that could affect your business, and how you can protect it like a fortress.

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Cyber safety

Since 2016, there has been an increase in reports of online businesses being targeted and held to ransom by cyber-criminals. Experts are warning that small businesses are fast becoming their favorite target because most of them are woefully unprepared for hacks to their online domain. Don’t make your business a weak target for cyber-criminals – this is your livelihood, so protect it like a fortress. Invest in antivirus and encryption software that automatically updates to patch vulnerable spots in your security, blocks spam, and detects spyware. Companies that sell this type of software include McAfee, Norton, AVG and Avira. Cyber criminals also look for exploits in WordPress and popular plugins, so it’s vital you keep them up to date if you’re using this to host your website.

Get insurance

Depending on the kind of service you offer, you might want to consider professional indemnity insurance; this will protect you if a client accuses you of providing  inadequate advice, services or designs that resulted in a financial loss. You can get professional indemnity insurance to cover both defence costs and any liability found owing in the event of a claim up to the limit of indemnity. There are different kinds of insurance for different services, so make sure you do your research to ensure you’re properly covered.

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Secure payments

If you’re selling something online, enabling mobile payments such as PayPal can increase your sales by allowing more impulsive purchases. You’ll also receive prompt payments rather than dealing with a billing or invoicing system. A good merchant service provider can sort you out with an online payment system for your eCommerce store. But more importantly, they can help you set up secure payments. The minute your customers enter their card details into your system, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks. You need excellent encryption software and top of the line credit card security to keep these details safe from cyber thieves. No one will use your store again if they’re worried about their details being stolen.

Reputation

The best kind of protection you can provide for your business is building up a solid reputation. Establish yourself as a reliable salesperson, a provider of good quality products, and someone who responds well to customer feedback. Customers are usually very trusting of online businesses, but once they hear of any hacking incidents or lawsuits, they are less likely to return.

Starting Up A Business? It’s Simple With These Tips

Dealing within your business may come as second nature to you, but for someone starting out, it can all seem too daunting. How can you start a business? Where do you begin to fathom the challenges ahead? There are, however, some basic principals that you can overcome. Getting a grip on the main fundamentals create the perfect grounding to create your business. I thought I would share these simple tips to help you if you find yourself just starting out.

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Business plans are essential

Having a business plan is an essential part of starting up a business. It gives you the focus and clarity to know exactly what steps and actions you need to take. However, many overlook this part of the process and possibly don’t spend as much time on it as they should do. But, not only does a business plan guide you, it can also help if you are looking to gain an investor’s interest further down the line. Or even if you are hoping to raise funds from the start. Which brings me onto my next point.

Consider the financial side of things

The financial side of things is one huge hurdle to overcome at the beginning of starting up a business. You have the initial finance you need to bring a product to market or launch a company or service online. But you may also find that you struggle with cash flow when you begin to start trading. This is when websites like https://smallbusinessloans.co could help you out. You need to be able to keep a business moving forward and the financial aspect can be one of the downfalls of a new start up. So plan ahead.

Social media can be your huge advantage

Social media management and promotion is a buzz with businesses taking different approaches and strategies of how they advertise their business online. And why not? After all, it is so diverse and with a big audience you really can take advantage of social media from an advertising and marketing side of things. A decent understanding of how you can utilise these platforms will be vital to your success, websites like http://www.dummies.com could help you out.

Think of your branding and website

The branding and your website are two key facts for your business and is something that needs you time, your attention and your focus. Everything is digital these days and mostly people will head online to find the right website for their needs. However, if they do happen to stumble across your website but the branding isn’t on point then you could potentially lose that customer or client. A digital marketing agency could help with logos and branding along with web development. Lastly, you will also want to ensure that your website can be seen through the mass of websites offered in search engines. This is when search engine optimisation and the use of keywords could help improve your chances of ranking better. Thankfully, there are plenty of tutorials online to help you make a start on this yourself.

How to Build an #eCommerce Store from Scratch

Many businesses have decided to invest in an e-commerce solution in the last few years. It undoubtedly provides easier management and has lower costs, but it’s also not something to be taken lightly. Just like with launching any store, you will have to do certain things and make decisions to create a reliable and respectable business. It takes time and patience of course, but also great research skills and the ability to process data to your advantage to create a brand the customers will trust. You also want to achieve success and be profitable in order to get a return on your investment and expand your business and grow.

I have put together some advice for you to consider that will help you plan your eCommerce venture and prepare you for success. You can use this information to create your own online store instead of selling on Amazon or eBay. In this way you will become a business in your own right and gain respect as a brand. So take a look at our list and good luck with your future business project.

1.    Decide on a product or service

It’s all about the product today. Since competition is fierce in some fields and it can even be ruthless, you must choose a product that fits with your capabilities. You may think you know what you want, but never make that decision quickly or without taking data into consideration. Research the market and see how the most popular brands are doing in respect to sales and quality. Also, the best way to know how not to make mistakes is by observing them and learning from their aftermath. Check out the lists and examples of the worst product launches and recommendations for how to avoid these pitfalls.

2.    Make a plan

Never do any important projects, or anything at all, without a plan. It’s the crucial element of every life-changing situation and can help you make better decisions. Start with a comprehensive plan including the idea you had in mind, and then break it up into micro plans reach each milestone. When it comes to planning, being as detailed as possible, no matter how silly it may sound, is always the best approach. A sound and carefully drafted plan will help you evaluate your methods and ideas as well as prepare you for future challenges.

3.    Development of your product

There are two ways to go here: make your own or source the products. In the end, you will have to sell them both through your e-commerce store, but the investment may be bigger or smaller depending on the development process of the product. You can acquire your product in four ways: making, manufacturing, wholesaling and drop shipping. It’s crucial to decide the best approach for your business as your e-commerce store depends on it. Sometimes the most obvious direction is not the wisest one and can make it harder for you to establish yourself. So, make sure you know how to obtain your product, the pros and cons of the method and then start building your business from there.

4.    Don’t underestimate your competition

One part of your research will require you look up all the businesses which can be considered competition. This includes online stores as well as product manufacturers and their marketing ideas, especially if you make your own product. Never underestimate even the smallest ones because as a fledgling business you can review their moves and assess their strategy, and even predict where it will take them. This ability to predict the potential direction in which your competition is heading is what will help you be prepared to match and outsmart their actions. The most valuable advice we can give you is to never look down on others in the same business as you but to observe them analytically and objectively so you can come to emotionless and logical conclusions.

5.    Create your e-commerce portal

Since e-commerce means you’ll be selling the product online, the one thing you can’t do without is a website. There are free options and you can try doing it all by yourself, but that can prove to be riskier and can have a negative impact on your business. There are various experts today like WebDel Web Developers who can help you choose the right domain name and perform quality SEO, so that you can count on your customers finding you easily and having no trouble ordering and paying for the product. This will be a cost-effective decision and will provide you with a secure and reliable solution for your business.

6.    Marketing your store

Although you may think that SEO will do it all for you, there are still some things you must do to have a successful marketing campaign and one of them is your behaviour and contact with your customers. Because your communication will be impersonal, you have to create a positive relationship as though they have physically visited your store and used your services. This can be achieved with a timely response to their requests and questions, as well as with appropriate language and a respectable manner of addressing. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool, especially today when every opinion can find its audience on the social networks and other tools for expressing thoughts and reviews.

All in all

This all seems like a lot to take in and, for a moment there, you may feel the urge to give up on your idea, but there are no easy ways to be successful in business even if it’s something you love. Every beginning will make you doubt yourself and the certainty of the realisation of your plans, but persistence and unrelenting determination are the foundations of every successful business venture.

Guest Author, Neil, is a digital marketing enthusiast, DIY hobbyist and a beginner at the blogging scene. His home is the whole world because he travels a lot. While you are reading this he is probably somewhere other than where he was yesterday.

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Business Website Hosting

When choosing a web hosting provider, you should carefully evaluate your options before making a final decision. This isn’t always easy, as there’s plenty of jargon to deal with, which can make it hard to determine whether you’re actually getting a good deal for the price you’ll be paying.

The good news is that with just a little bit of information, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls when comparing hosting providers. Here are some of the top mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not Paying Attention to Hidden Charges

Sometimes, there will be additional charges associated with a hosting service that aren’t always clear from the start. These can include VAT and setup costs, as well as domain transfer fees charged if you want to transfer your domain away to another registrar.

Bandwidth charges are another common hidden charge. Some hosting providers limit the amount of data your website can transfer in a month and charge you extra for any overage. Bandwidth limitations can be a problem if your website grows in popularity and starts receiving a lot more visitors, as you may end up having to pay a high amount for the transferred data.

Choosing a Hosting Service With a Lengthy Contract

Many web hosting providers give big discounts if you pay for several years of service when you sign up. Some may even require that you pay for at least one year of service in advance. Even though this can save you money over paying for a monthly subscription, it’s not really a good idea.

When you first get started with a hosting company, you don’t know what type of experience you’ll have with them in the future. If ever you’re dissatisfied with the service and want to switch providers, it might be difficult for you to get back any amount you’ve paid in advance.

Not Considering Technical Support

Selecting a hosting company that has top-notch technical support is crucial, especially if this is the first time you’re using a web host and running your own website. No matter how good your hosting company is, there is a high chance that you’ll run into some type of problem at one point and will require their assistance. When you need help, using a hosting company with a support department that is easy to reach and answers your questions quickly will make all the difference.

A hosting service that provides around the clock support by different methods, such as phone, email and live chat may cost a bit more than a similar service with less support. But if you have a question about one of your hosting plan’s features or something isn’t quite working right, you’ll quickly see the value of a hosting service which provides high-quality support to all of its customers.

Relying on Reviews Made by Affiliates

The best way to find out whether a hosting company actually provides good value for the money is to read some hosting reviews. The problem is that not all reviews are neutral and unbiased. If you come across a website that just reviews a few hosts, with all reviews being overly positive and having a link to the purchase page of the web host, it’s certainly a site operated by an affiliate that receives commissions for every new customer they refer to a host.

When reading hosting reviews, it’s a better idea to consult several different websites. This will give you a more unbiased look at various hosting companies, helping you understand what their strong and weak points are.

Choosing a Provider Solely Based on Price

It’s not a good idea to assume that all hosting services are the same and just choose the provider with the least expensive options. Also, the highest priced hosts aren’t necessarily the best either, as some providers sell basic hosting services at highly inflated prices. A better approach to choosing a host is to think about what your needs are and then compare various hosting plans from different providers, as well as read independent reviews to get an idea about the quality of each company.

Paying Additional Fees For Products and Services You Don’t Really Need

Many hosting companies try to “upsell” during the checkout process. Be careful to review each page before clicking on the “continue” button so that you don’t buy any products or services that you don’t really need.

Many of the products offered during the upsell phase are hyped up by the web host as being worth hundreds of dollars, but are actually of little value. For example, some hosting firms charge inflated costs for website templates or directory submission services that you can easily find for free elsewhere.

Not Thinking about Scalability

One of the troubles of starting a new website is that it’s difficult to know how much your site will grow in the future. While your current hosting package may meet your needs for now, this may not be the case a few months down the road. For this reason, it’s very important to select a hosting provider that offers a variety of services and makes it easy to upgrade if you need to.

Using the Same Company For Web Hosting and Domain Registration

It’s common for domain registrars to also provide hosting services, but their packages are often overpriced and offer only basic hosting features. Many hosting providers also make it a huge selling point to offer a free domain name when you sign up for their service. However, this isn’t a huge benefit, as domain names are quite inexpensive and you can easily buy one independently.

Another point to consider is that having your domain and hosting offered by the same company can make it harder to switch to a different provider in the future if your needs change or you’re not satisfied with the service.

Selecting a hosting provider for your business website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. To increase the chances of selecting a web host that is right for you and avoiding problems, you should do your research beforehand to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly down the road.

Guest Author, Josh McAllister, is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

3 Critical Things Your Startup Business Needs!

Startup businesses are a risky thing to own as it’s the phase in a business’s life where it’s most likely to fail! The key to avoiding failure is to be properly prepared because startup businesses face many perils that can finish them without a seconds notice, so we have to get ready for these things and avoids the pitfalls that await us, but what can we do to avoid these failures from happening? Well, if you read on, you’ll find out!

Hire Website Developers

Your website is your businesses face to the world, it’s where people come to your business in order to use your services so it has to be a good one! The problem with most startup businesses is that they don’t have a proper website; they have one that the owner has made themselves, and this just isn’t going to cut it if you’ve not got professional skills! If your website is poor, it’s going to put people off your company, so how do we get around this issue? Well, it’s simple; you get professional skills in! By hiring website developers, you can be safe in the knowledge that your website is going to be unique and easy to use, so you can captivate customers and get them to buy your services.

Target Only Your Demographic

Most big businesses will only advertise to their target demographic and no one else, why? Because if you’re advertising to people who aren’t your target demographic, you’re simply not going to get anywhere with them! You need to know what the best ways are to reach out to your audience, because that’s the way that good advertising is done. Take a seat and think about who you’re mainly going to be selling to, and then base your advertisements off that. If you put your adverts in the wrong place then you’re going to be paying for nothing, so think first before you start putting out wide adverts.

Getting A Business Loan

When people start off a business, they often underestimate the costs of running it and decide to fund it themselves, however this is a mistake that often puts businesses under entirely and is therefore something you want to avoid! Websites like businesslineof.credit offer loans specifically for businesses. They can help you with paying all of the costs that come with having a business as you’re going to make a loss for for the first few years until you start getting cash in, so loans like this help you ease the pain of this by giving you a nice sum of money to sit on!

Keep in mind all of these things if you want your startup to succeed. Hire a website developer to get a professional website that will look good and will be easy to use for customers, make sure you’re advertising in the right place and not wasting your money on reaching out to people who don’t care and make sure you get a business loan to keep your financial needs satisfied! On top of loans, another good way to get funding is through lines of credit which you can read up about here.

5 Incredibly Easy Steps To Start Your Own Website

In today’s world if you don’t have a website you basically don’t exist. Or at least no one will ever know about you. Not having a website is no longer an option for anyone who’s into any kind of business simply because everyone is on the web today. Luckily for you, setting up your website is no longer as difficult as it used to be, with many web hosting options available for you to choose depending on your needs. Here are the 5 easy steps to get you started with designing your own website.

Decide on Your Domain Name

Before you jump to choosing a color and layout, please first pick yourself a domain name. Domain name is extremely important as that’s how your website will be called. Getting a domain name will cost you an annual fee which you’ll be paying for the right to use the unique name, so no one else can take it from you. Choose a domain name that is going to be catchy but also reflect whatever your site is about. If you can read the domain name and get a good sense of what’s your website’s field of interest you’re all good.

Choose a Website Platform

Choosing a website platform depends solely on your capabilities. Are you confident about your coding or you know absolutely nothing about it? If you’re good at it, you can go on and design your website from scratch, but if you’re not – CMS might be a better option. CMS (Content Management System) is a platform for building websites, which you’ll also use to manage all elements of your website, such as content. Today, most people just use CMS and we recommend it as well. It’s easy and allows you to run a website with little to no previous knowledge about website management.

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Which CMS Should You Choose?

The best CMS platforms out there are free to use, with WordPress leading the pack as by far the most popular one. The other two are Drupal and Joomla. There are other CMS platforms out there, but we’ll be focusing on these three.

  • WordPress – When it comes to beginner friendliness, you should look no further than WordPress. It’s used by over 60 million websites today, it’s easy to install, it has by far the most plug-ins which makes it very customizable. The bad side to WordPress is that you can’t edit its visuals significantly, at least if you’re not a designer.
  • Drupal – Drupal is much more complicated than WordPress, but it makes up for it with its faster response times. However, if you’re absolutely new at this, Drupal has nothing to offer that WordPress can’t.
  • Joomla – This CMS platform is great for setting up online stores quickly. It combines the power of Drupal and the easiness of WordPress. It’s basically a middle-ground for those who aren’t satisfied with WordPress or Drupal.

Plan Your Website

Now that you’ve chosen your CMS platform, you need to start planning your website. To do that you need to make a number of choices that will determine how your site looks. First off, consider the type of website that you need. Is it an informational type of website, like a blog? Or is it an e-commerce shop? Different types of websites require a different approach to designing a website, so make sure you know what you’re after. Secondly, you need to decide how your users will navigate the website. Like any freelance web designer can tell you, navigation is extremely important to every website’s success. The third thing you need to know is the type of content you’re going to use to attract visitors.

Promote Your Website

Promoting a website usually includes either PPC (Pay Per Click) or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaigns, or you can combine both of these for the best results. However, SEO is cheaper and it’s probably the best way to become visible on the web. You’d rather be on the front page of the newspaper than all the way in the back, right? That’s what SEO lets you do – appear on the first page of the SERPs. Do your keyword research, write high-quality content, and do some link building. These are the SEO practices that will get you the best results.

Conclusion

Creating your own website today is easier than ever, which isn’t to say that it’s a piece of cake. It still requires a lot of time and effort to get it running, and even more to get it to the top of your SERPs. But if you invest yourself in it and follow these simple tips you’ll soon get the website running and in time you’ll learn how to manage it and how to attract visitors. The better your start is though, the easier it’s going to be to manage it.

Decrease Your Bounce Rate, Increase Loyal Customers

A poor bounce rate is a conundrum that a lot of businesses face. They are attracting a good amount of traffic to their website, but they don’t have many conversions to back it up. Of course, traffic means nothing if the people that are visiting your website are not interested in what you have to offer. So, where are you going wrong? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can decrease your bounce rate in order to increase your loyal consumer base.

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Is your web design confused?

This is one of the main reasons for a high bounce rate. Does your branding reflect your business and the industry you operate in? If your web design is confused, it is going to dilute your brand identity, and it will immediately turn potential customers away. This often occurs when people work with web design and marketing businesses that have no experience in their area. If you run a law firm, for instance, a company like Foster Web Marketing would be ideal, as they cater to the legal sector and have an abundance of experience in this industry. It is so important to find designers that have experience in your niche, and check out their portfolio to see the work they have done so far.

Do you understand what your visitors are looking for?

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the biggest problems business owners face is that they have a tremendous amount of website traffic, but they can’t turn these users into customers. The main reason for this is because not all every user is your ideal consumer.  So, what happens is that someone gets directed to your page, and then they realise that you don’t offer what they are looking for, and then they leave. This is why your bounce rate is high.

To rectify this issue, you need to understand your website visitors. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:

  • Analyse onsite search trends – This is a good way to understand what your customers are expecting from your website. You can see what search terms they use, and whether your website is catering to what they want. If not, you can identify the gaps in your content and make the necessary changes.
  • Discover the highest converting pages on your website at present – You can learn what type of content attracts customers to your business by understanding the highest converting pages. You will probably find that there is a big difference between your highest converting content and your most popular content, and this signals that you need to make a change.
  • Find your most popular content – This leads on from the former point perfectly. You need to find your most popular posts and make sure they are optimised for boosting conversions.

Do you encourage new website users to opt-in to your email list?

If you don’t, now is the time to start. This is important because research indicates that to create a viable sales lead it takes six to eight touches. This is why collecting email addresses is a must. This enables you to keep in contact with your potential customer, ensuring the relationship is kept alive until they convert. Otherwise, how would you be able to encourage the six to eight touches until a sale takes place?

You need to have a careful and considered approach when encouraging people to sign up to your email list. You need to give them an incentive to do so. For example, you could offer valuable digital downloads, such as a whitepaper, cheat sheet, template, or eBook.

Do you re-engage abandoned visitors?

This is the final point to consider when it comes to your bounce rate. A lot of business owners simply give up on the users that have abandoned them after their first visit to their website. This is a big mistake, which can result in many opportunities lost. You shouldn’t give up on these users. Perhaps they simply were not ready to make a purchase from your website or sign up to your email list first time around?

You need to look for the most effective methods of re-engaging with these visitors. One of the ways you can do this is with social media. You can target people that have recently engaged with your website, creating posts that have been perfectly put together to appeal to them. You can also use on-site remarketing to appeal to abandoning visitors through targeted exit-intent popups.

All in all, reducing your bounce rate is of huge importance if you are to have a successful online presence. Use the tips that have been mentioned above to get started.