How to Manage an Online Small Business

Published on April 7th, 2013 by | Category: Management

There are benefits and disadvantages of running a business online. First of all; it gives site owners freedom and flexibility, however, it also makes people forget about responsibilities. Chances are if the site owner has been employed by a company before, they would have to get used to the fact that they need to set their own goals and objectives and monitor their own progress. Indeed, setting up an online business requires self-discipline and loads of courage. It is not for everyone, and the infrastructures, self-motivation tools and processes need to be set up in the beginning of the venture.

Business Plan

With every single venture, there is a need to create a business plan. Most people just stumble upon Internet marketing and online businesses, without any particular goal. This is the main reason they fail. There is a need for a business plan that answers the following questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • How do I want to do it?
  • What results I expect?

Without answering the above questions there is no point starting any business, and with starting up online, it is even more important. There are too many distractions on the way, and if one does not have their goals ahead of them all the time, they might quit one thing and start another without allowing themselves to succeed in the original business model. Therefore, the preparation stage of the business planning should never be neglected.

Company Mission

Without having a mission and a vision, there is no way a small business can succeed. It is not only a fancy line that large multinational organizations create to blindfold the public. It is something people do business by. Believing in success and making a difference is one of the most important things. If the business owner does not believe that the product or service offered to customers is for their benefit, how do they expect potential buyers to believe it? It does not matter if the mission is published on the company site or just pinned in the office or study; it still has a huge motivational power.

Delivery Infrastructure

Having a product or service is worthless unless the business is able to safely and effectively deliver it to customers. In case of selling digital products, the delivery can be set up via email or online download sites that are secure and reliable. However, if there is a product in question, customer service needs to be taken seriously. The company needs to deal with queries, refunds, delays and delivery, as well as the payment processing. PayPal seems to be a simple solution for e-commerce sites, however, other options can be considered as well, depending on the customers’ needs.


There is no need to purchase an expensive and advanced book-keeping system or accounting software; a simple spreadsheet would do just fine. Creating an Excel or Access sheet that can be analyzed and personalized is usually accepted by taxmen, and it can also save money. Still, the online business needs to check the current requirements of accounting and invoicing and comply with the rules. There is no point risking jail or penalties by not telling the tax office about the business. First of all; having a registered business (even as a self-employed person) does not come with many obligations. Secondly; customers would trust the site more if there was a company registration number or proper business name included in the documentation.

Information Overload

The real killer of online businesses is information overload. Once somebody starts a venture on the internet, there will be certain things they would like to learn; such as setting up a website, getting traffic and gaining more customers. As there are literally thousands of ways to do the above, they would meet confronting and confusing pieces of information when reading articles and buying guides. It is not easy to focus on one method and goal, therefore, to avoid information overload, business people need to ask themselves: “does this method take me closer to my original goal?” If not, they should ignore it. Another method to stay focused is to concentrate on one particular method of traffic generation at a time. Although not all methods featured online would work for everyone, if they are given a trial period of a couple of weeks until they are dropped, most of the dead end projects can be eliminated.

Monitoring Features

There are many monitoring features online business owners can use to keep an eye on their business. It is important to be able to generate reports, even if the income and traffic is from different sources. To monitor traffic to the e-commerce site, businesses can use the hosting company’s own reports and other functions available for free. To check the search engine optimization performance of the site, many free online reporting sites can be used. However, to get full traffic and revenue statistics, there is a need for advanced features. Registering the site on Google is one of the best ways to keep an eye on the traffic and revenue real time. A Google Analytics account would allow users to set goals, targets and manage performance. Monitoring revenues on a daily basis and recording them in a simple spreadsheet would also provide online businesses a simple monitoring function.

Statistics and Further Goals

Once the online business’s statistics and revenue reports are available, it is possible to take the venture to the next level. It is simple to determine the development areas once the graphs are created in Excel or Access. For example, if the business site’s traffic is declining, it is evident that the focus should be on getting more targeted traffic. If the traffic increases and the revenues decline, this would indicate a lower visitor value and lower quality of traffic. The sources of traffic need to be looked at and improved. It is recommended that online businesses are monitored on a monthly basis, however, due to the speed of changes online, statistics can be created weekly. Monitoring the progress towards the goals is also important.

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