Whether your business is in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, or somewhere else in the world, you need to get or start an online business. A Brick-And-Mortar-type business is pretty much what we were all accustomed to. Fast forward to the modern age, everything has now been moved to the Internet.
The COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020 forced businesses to rethink their processes. After month-long lockdowns and restrictions, businesses need to take advantage of mechanisms that will foster business continuity.
As such, here are the steps needed to properly start an online business the right way:
1. Ensure That Your Business is Registered With Governing Authorities
Before you start an online business, you must make the business legitimate. Every real business should first be registered 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 needed to start an online business is to create your social media profiles on Facebook or Instagram. These are social media giants and they can connect your business to a wider audience. It is free to create a business page on these channels and thus, it should be the first step of any online business strategy. With Facebook, you primarily create and share posts and stories. With Instagram, you more share photos and videos.
Though it is great to get started on these social media platforms, you are somewhat limited by what information you can display. Hence, we highly recommended the next step, your business website.
3. Establish A Professional 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 create a website built from scratch, however, in the long run, your costs will be great. This is because you would need the developer to add content and maintain the site.
The best way to start an online business is by having a professional business website that is based in a Content Management System (CMS). There are some managed CMS’ such as Wix and Weebly, that quickly get you up and running with drag and drop website builders. However, eventually, you would realize that there are restrictions on what you can do on those platforms. We, therefore, do not recommend these managed CMS options for long-term business growth.
For continued business growth, our recommendation is the installation of WordPress on your domain name and web hosting. WordPress is free, open-source software, and it is the world’s most popular Content Management System. With WordPress, you can easily create a website like the pros with the use of drag and drop website page builders such as Elementor. With Elementor you can create beautiful pages without writing a single line of 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, therefore, the best option for continued business growth.
4. Setup Professional Email Addresses With Your Domain Name
The other step needed to start an online business is by having a business-grade email address. Having a [email protected] or a [email protected] address may be quick and easy to set up, however, it is not ideal. These addresses are primarily for personal accounts and do not reflect highly of your business. For your business to be taken seriously, it must have an email address with your domain name. 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 are also able to set up email accounts.
To create and manage the emails, you can use the Web Host’s free webmail software. If however, you want to step it up a notch, utilize paid, business-grade email systems such as Google Workspace and Office 365.
Google WorkSpace offers professional business email addresses through its familiar Gmail interface. The starting cost is US$6 per user each month, and 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. This is a pay-as-you-go option as well 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 is a free service from Google that allows you to list 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.
By Creating the Google Business Profile, your business will be easily found in local searches.
6. List Your Business on Local Directory Listings
Ensuring that your business is found on local directory listings is another step when you start an online business. There are several local online directories (e.g. Yello) available in Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, and other countries.
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 properly start an online business – else no one would know you exist. This is where website marketing or digital marketing comes into play. Utilize 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. Every service you need can now be delivered online:
- Documents: To create documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints, you can utilize Google Workspace or Microsoft.
- Storage: To store files and documents you can utilize 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 utilize Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks, or Zoho Accounting.
You must start an online business 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.