I’m in business online when I have a website, right?

Many people start businesses every day with the attitude that having a website is the starting point for a new business. While I won’t deny the power and effectiveness of getting a website up as soon as possible in your business venture, I do suggest an alternative before diving into a website investment.

Find your market online

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Where would this customer spend time online?
  • What can I do to be in that space?
  • How can I join the conversation?

You should really do your homework when it comes to identifying your target market and where they are, well before you have a website. This allows you to see and feel the type of activity and engagement taking place. Observing this activity allows you to gather information and make decisions about your budding business and how you should approach marketing. It also helps you know how to communicate with your market as individuals and as a whole.

Make connections and build relationships

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are the existing influencers?
  • What are they doing to get people interested?
  • How is the audience engaging with each other?

Whether in person or in a virtual/digital environment, you should be networking with colleagues. This is your opportunity to seek knowledge and share it in return. People are attracted to those who give and are a resource for value. However, to be an effective giver, you must be clear with your own understanding of what you want to accomplish. Don’t give and expect to always receive something in return, but be prepared for it.

Get insight and feedback to build a business

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What questions are not being answered?
  • Where are consumers having difficulty?
  • How does my business fill these gaps?

A great concept to guide yourself through these question is Customer Development. By reaching out by asking questions and playing the character of the student, you not only learn, but you will also gain insight into your market’s emotions and thought processes. This works best before you start promoting your business, as you do not feel compelled to sell, but to learn. I like to think of it as crowd sourcing your education to form the right idea to suit it to your audience’s needs.

Once you have answered the questions in full and satisfied each of the 3 parts, you are ready to test the market with promotion of the concept. This is the time to get your website up, and best of all, you don’t even need to have a product yet. You can market the idea of a product to see if it is worth pursuing.

What question are you having difficulty answering?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.

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