Going Digital, part 1 of a four part series. A fresh view of work, thanks to COVID-19. We address this new normal with online business and a new future....
part 4 of a four part series
In part 3, we talked of knowing your business and your limits, honing your efforts to maximise your returns, being able to choose how your business fits your life and getting comfortable with your idea as it becomes real.
In part 4 of our series, we look at various business models and what they need, to maximise their potential.
There are a great many businesses, but there are basic components, which are common to almost all.
The primary component is your Company identity/ brand
- This is your unique name and image which set you apart from your competitors.
- It is the collection of characteristics which tell the story of your business to your potential and ongoing customers, while establishing your path and intentions, as a guide to yourself and your employees.
- It sets the tone for your enterprise and should clearly state who you are.
This is the hardest part, but worth the work.
Knowing who you are as a company, your goals and intentions, how you look, talk and what you say to the world and yourselves, is your foundation.
This profile will enable you to create concise components for your web presence:
- A compelling company name and therefore domain name, preferably based on your business.
- Say who you are.
- Explain your capabilities and services.
- Showcase your skills and talents.
- Make contact with interested potential clients.
- Establish a general Terms and Conditions.
- Advertise to existing clients, providing a monthly Newsletter.
- Advertise your business on social media and redirect interested parties to your showcase.
- Stay on the road and still be connected to your virtual office.
- Invoice and receive payments and review these, as well as your accounts and banking, while on the move and online.
Some business models:
Local Service or Trade
If you provide a new, or existing local service or trade, you would use the digital side of your business to:
- Establish your identity/ brand online.
- Create a showcase of your work.
- Connect with interested parties.
- Advertise to your market, invoice and receive payment, while continuing your work regardless of location.
This is by far the most streamlined and simple example of digital as a showroom, contact and payment gateway, enabling small mobile businesses to maximise their work while staying constantly connected, without the constraints of salaried office staff or office rental.
If you make something and sell it online: answer these questions first.
- Who wants it?
- Is the quality, functionality, presentation, copyright protections and general legal compliance in place?
- What’s the intended market?
- Can I make enough of them to satisfy a potential market increase?
- Do I have facilities, raw material supplies, infrastructure and available investment, tooling and skilled labour and potential expansion capabilities to do this?
If your answers are positive, then proceed with the process of developing your identity and brand, domain name and website as per our suggestions above.
But this time, you will need to include a catalogue and photographs of your products, a pricing structure and a sales sales gateway, along with a relationship with shippers who can collect and deliver.
This may sound complex. That’s where we can assist you in making and managing a robust Content Management System (CMS) which contains both website and online store, with all of the appropriate connections to payment gateways. This is an extensible system, more than capable of handling an expanding collection of products.
Note: Other potential sales platforms such as Amazon or online versions of department stores, are another sales option. They work as an intermediary and handle sales.
Before settling on a ‘go it alone’ system, review these options.
They are designed to handle many different scales of enterprise.
If you comment or review online: answer these questions first.
- Who reads your blog/ commentary?
- Does the quality and presentation garner a considerable interest and following?
- What’s my intended market?
- Can I generate enough fresh material/ content to maintain and develop interest?
- Can I develop advertising around my content?
This is best served initially with Google Adsense, although there are others out there.
- Can I develop a YouTube channel to visually review items?
If you are good at it, passionate about what you say, and willing to, as the old adage says, “educate, inform and entertain”, then you must promote feverishly to develop a volume market of potential consumers, who enjoy clicking and shopping while reading your offering. The more clicks, responses, actions and reactions, the more revenue you will generate.
Associated to this, you may be a very talented writer, who can offer more insight than just a well patronised blog. Consider writing and publishing your own ebooks, available for a small price and downloadable after the payment gateway.
If this is your forte, your business is fully digital and would require all the aforementioned identity items, plus a blogging Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, a well chosen layout, responsive to desktop, tablet or mobile and ad server savvy and a reliable newsletter system, to build and maintain your list of subscribers.
An Agent for Others
If you wish to rely on becoming an agent for others and sell their products for a commission, being an affiliate, selling a third party product around your own site, or being in a franchise arrangement, there are a large amount of choices out there on the web.
Somewhat similar to animals in the jungle; some bite, some sting, some see you as lunch and some, thank heavens, are willing to let you sell your heart out for them and you both make money.
- Again research
- Read the fine print, legalese, Terms and Conditions
- Is their offer clear? Does it make sense? Confusion is the playground of crime!
- Search for comments and opinions on different businesses.
- Look for likemindedness - you always wanted to run an art supplies shop.
‘Maybe I could do this online’. This will fire your imagination and possibly allow for developing a business which you can characterise as your own.
- If the business is of quality, you should be able to ask questions, download a brochure or interact in some way with them to answer your concerns.
- Remember, they already have a business.
- You are looking for one and they know that from the outset.
- So be forward, ask for support, advice, some consideration.
- Kick the tyres and go for a demo.
- Be wary of those who require a fee to get started. They are about to make money from you, so if they do want payment it should be for specific online setup like a customised sales site, tutorials and seminars, but not access to advertising material and stock photography. You should not be buying a job. You are looking for work not internship.
- Try to avoid pyramid scheme products.
Keep the franchise online and out of your garage!
Note: A well written site, with good photography, easily navigated and responsive to desktop, tablet or mobile devices will, if advertised, especially through traditional means, let everyone know your website exists and will generate considerable interest and traffic. Business cards, flyers and classified ads are still dependable! A Facebook/ Instagram presence and advertising, with your chosen demographic will then boost your marketing and sales online.
PayPal or equivalent online financial services will take care of payments, which are connected to your debit or credit card. They can also deal with recurrent billing and payments.
To Sum Up
We now sit in a ‘when’ world rather than an ‘if’.
Retrenching, home offices, self discipline, ideas and keeping them fresh, advertising, website management and online invoices, all sound like someone else’s life and world.
But it’s not new. Entrepreneurs have been doing this and making a healthy living online for years.
If it’s fair to say that the 1950s onwards were the golden years that gave birth to the advertising and marketing industry, the 80s onwards, systematically gave the power back to the small person, who developed a big voice.
As designers living in the islands of the Caribbean, we lived through finished artwork on zip disks, couriered to printers, to emailing ads to magazines half way round the world.
We stopped paying vast amounts for printer supplies a long time ago, opting for presentation files, pdfs, web reviews and online proofing.
The pace changes as the technology and culture evolves.
We are glad to say that, in our environment, we contribute to changing the pace every day and by doing so, assure our clients of a strong online presence, able to respond effectively, to that ever present evolution.
If you wish to take the digital step, remember:
- Better to do the simple things well, than the complex things badly.
- Never make a promise you cannot deliver.
- Never forget real world devices like business cards, flyers and newspaper ads.
- Play in your own ballpark. Don’t waste time focusing on, or undercutting your competitor.
- Be yourself unequivocally. Be decisive, trustworthy and genuinely good at what you do.
- Never be scared to turn work down. You don’t need all the work, just the work that is a good fit with your business.
- Have operating standards. Respect your industry. In times of plenty, share. In times of difficulty, care. No Standards? Research, experience and write some.
And above all, be bold but smart and enjoy your new found freedom!
In case you missed it...
June 29, 2020
June 30, 2020
Going Digital part 2 of 4, we dig deeper into having, building and positioning your own business online, developing, planning, deploying and making it real....
July 14, 2020
Going Digital part 3 of 4, we talk of knowing your business limits and your efforts to maximise your returns and choosing how your business fits your life....