Get your Online Company off the Ground
By Jared Preusz
May 9, 2009
Though numerous e-businesses are launched each day, starting a successful online company is no easy task. With competing companies vying for the same customers, making the right moves at the right time throughout the startup process is vital.
Ryan Caldwell, CEO of EnticeLabs, an innovative staffing company, knows starting a new e-business can be a struggle. “It’s important to find an industry where consumers are already buying,” says Caldwell. “A lot of e-businesses try to go after this great idea and say that no one is really spending money on this yet, but they think it is a problem. The best kinds of e-businesses are where people are already spending money in a general area that you’re solving. This can dramatically increase the adoption rate of the business.”
Finding an innovative idea that works is the foundation for a prosperous online business, Caldwell says. This involves a complex process of research, assembling a team of solid workers and marketing your business online with the latest technology tools.
Discover Your Business’ Value
Your idea will not sell in the competitive marketplace without adequate research. To make an e-business work, you must have a thorough understanding of the market and your competition. Search online for other companies out there with a similar idea and make sure your idea is unique enough that it will attract customers. Several companies and organizations, like Grow Utah Ventures, offer entrepreneur workshops and networking events that can assist you through the business research process. Caldwell says in this early stage of an e-business, it is also critical to target a very specific group of people.
Build Your Team
No e-business will survive without a team of skilled and talented employees. John Richards, managing director of the Rollins Center for eBusiness, advises new Internet companies to bring in three to four experts to make the company work. “It’s very hard to find someone who can do everything all in one package,” says Richards. He also suggests founders put as much money as possible into the business,even if that means cutting their salaries.
Finding capital for a new Web company can also be a challenge. Richards says you should first create a detailed business plan before pitching it to venture capital firms. He also advises entrepreneurs to take advantage of networking events to talk to key representatives in charge of capital.
Deliver at the Lowest Cost
People are always searching for a great bargain and if you offer it, customers will come. Paul Allen, CEO of FamilyLink.com, says the most profitable e-businesses deliver their service for the lowest cost possible. “You can actually create an incredible Internet business using open source technology, using three-party API and using other Web 2.0 services,” says Allen. He advises Web companies to make sure they are comfortable with open source technology and Web 2.0 platforms before fully launching their business.
E-businesses can also save money by marketing their products online, says Allen. He advises using search engine optimization, Web analytics, affiliate marketing and e-mail marketing. Monitoring the number of hits on a Website and determining what parts of a Website work for customers is vital, he adds.
Utah is rich with companies specializing in online marketing software. Orem-based Omniture provides Web analytics software SiteCatalyst; OrangeSoda offers online marketing solutions. E-mail marketing platforms, such as ExactTarget, are highly popular with businesses that need to get the word out about events and important changes or news within their companies.
Utilize Social Networks
Social networks are gaining momentum and Web companies that fail to utilize them properly may miss out on valuable business opportunities, says Allen. “You need to use social networks constantly,” he says. “Find as many ways to stay in touch with customers as you possibly can. Constantly do what the customers want you to do.”
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and Gmail groups, Allen says, all provide ways for e-businesses to share news, comments, videos, links, applications and more.