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Basic rules to follow

To build a successful business online, there are certain basic rules you need to follow, which I describe in the rest of the article.Follow a proven business model

The first question when setting up an internet-based business is to ask yourself what business model you are following. A business model describes how the business will make money. The most common models are:

  • Brokerage, where you bring buyers and sellers together and facilitate their transactions;
  • Advertising, where you display content on a website and advertisers pay their advertisements to appear on the site
  • Merchant, where you sell goods and services either as a wholesaler or a retailer;
  • Manufacturer, where you sell the goods you make yourself;
  • Subscription, where users pay to access your site or use the services thereon;Sell real value

Successful businesses sell real value, they don’t just attract visitors to their site like many dot-coms were doing in the 1990s. You need to carry out research to find out if customers really want and are willing to pay for your products and services. If you don’t have something of real value to sell, a website will not help you make money.Make it easy for customers to buy

With so many options available online, customers can easily try someone else if the buying process is cumbersome. It must be easy for customers to access the website, find exactly what they are looking for and make a purchase fuss-free. Delivery of goods must also be quick, so it is wise to use a reliable overnight courier to avoid delays. A money-back guarantee, with quick refunds for returned goods, will build customers’ confidence in doing business with you.Attend to complaints quickly

Online customers are quick to broadcast complaints on the numerous social sites now available and bad news can spread very quickly. As you keep your ears on the ground online, you must be prepared to act quickly to put out any fires before you gain a bad reputation and lose customers.

Have an online marketing strategy
Simply having a website will not guarantee that customers will land there and start buying. Like in any other type of business, you do need to develop a marketing strategy that will make potential customers aware of your site and your products. This will be the subject of a future article.

  • Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning consultant who works with entrepreneurs and growing businesses. You may contact him by email on chichonip@smebusinesslink.com, or visit http://smebusinesslink.com

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