Whether your business is in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, or another country, you need to get or start an online business. We are all familiar with a Brick-And-Mortar-type of business. Fast forward to the modern age, everything has moved to the Internet.
The COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020 forced businesses to rethink their processes. After month-long lockdowns and restrictions, companies must take advantage of tools that foster business continuity.
As such, here are the steps to properly start an online business:
1. Register Your Business With The Governing Authorities
Before you start an online business, you must make the business legitimate. Every serious business should first register with the government. By doing so, you will get a registration certificate confirming your official use of the business name within your country. In Trinidad and Tobago, you can now register your business online.
2. Create Social Media Business Accounts
The next step to start an online business is to create your social media profiles. The leading social media providers are Facebook and Instagram. These platforms connect your business to a broad audience. It is free to create a business page on these channels. Therefore, it should be the first step of any online business strategy. With Facebook, you primarily create and share posts and stories. With Instagram, you share photos & videos.
It is a positive step to get started on these social media platforms. However, you are somewhat limited by what information can be displayed. Hence, we highly recommended the next step – your business website.
3. Establish A Business Website
The gold standard for any established online business is to have a professional business website. There are so many benefits of having a professional website for your business. Not having one would be a BIG mistake.
You can hire a developer to code a website from scratch. However, in the long run, you operating costs would be high. This is because you will need the developer to add content and maintain the site.
The best way to start an online business is by having a business website based on a Content Management System (CMS). Some managed CMSs, such as Wix and Weebly, quickly get you up-and-running with drag-and-drop website builders. However, there are restrictions on what you can do on those platforms. We, therefore, do not recommend these managed CMS options for serious-minded businesses.
For continued business growth, we recommend the installation of a CMS called WordPress on your domain name and web hosting. WordPress is free, open-source software. It is also the world’s most popular Content Management System. With WordPress, you can easily create a website like the pros using drag-and-drop website page builders like Elementor. With Elementor, you can create beautiful pages without writing code.
Using WordPress gives you unlimited possibilities in terms of design and features. For instance, you can create a simple 5-page brochure website or even a complex e-commerce online shopping store. A website built using WordPress is the best option for continued business growth.
Please see our website design packages for further details.
4. Setup Professional Email Addresses With Your Domain Name
The other step needed to start an online business is to have a business-grade email address. Having a [email protected] or a [email protected] address may be quick and easy, but it is not ideal. These addresses are primarily for personal accounts and do not reflect highly on your business. Your business must have an email address with its domain name for your persons to take it seriously.
A Domain Name is an internet address for your business. E.g. technokatsolutions.com. When you register for a domain name from a Domain Name Registrar such as GoDaddy, you can set up email accounts.
Google WorkSpace offers professional business email addresses through its familiar Gmail interface. The starting cost is US$6 per user each month. Apart from email, you also benefit from a suite of other services such as GDrive, Calendar, and Docs.
Office 365 also allows business-class email addresses along with web versions of their popular productivity applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint. Office 365 is a pay-as-you-go option starting at US$5 per month.
5. Create a Google Business Profile
The next step in your quest to start an online business is to ensure that you create a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This free service from Google lists your business on Google map searches. Some of the business information captured includes:
- Business Name
- GPS Location
- Opening Hours
- Contact Information such as telephone, email, and website address.
Create a Google Business Profile for business to be found easily in local searches.
6. List Your Business in Local Directories
Another step to start an online business involves listing your business in local directories. Local directories in Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, and other countries abound. One popular directory is Yello.
7. Promote Your Online Business
After setting up your business website and listing it in various directories, you need to market your services and products to start an online business. Without proper marketing, no one would know about your business. This is where website marketing or digital marketing comes into play. Use online marketing techniques such as Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, and Paid Advertising on Google Searches, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
An agency like TECHNOKAT Solutions can help you generate leads and sales from online marketing efforts.
8. Utilize Cloud Services
Finally, to start an online business, you need to jump on board the world of cloud computing services. You can now achieve the following businesses functions online:
- Documents: To create documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints, you can use Google Workspace or Microsoft.
- Storage: To store files and documents, you can use Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
- Calendar: To manage schedules and appointments. Microsoft Calendar and Google Calendar are good options.
- Accounting: To manage your finances, quotes, and invoicing, you can use Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks, or Zoho Accounting.
Start your online business now in this changing global landscape. As the Covid 19 pandemic has shown us, your business must continually evolve and adopt innovations. Starting an online business in Trinidad and Tobago is now a case of survival.