According to the 2021 Data Reportal Digital Report, in January 2021 there were 38.2 million Internet users in South Africa – that’s 38.2 million people searching for products, services, answers to questions and general information every day. This means that there is a world of opportunity to bring your small business idea to life in the digital space.
The online world has become the ideal space to build up your small business. Whether you’re selling your locally designed clothes, gourmet food products or offering a home cleaning service in your local area, taking your business online allows you to target specific customers and create your online presence in a relevant, effective, affordable and time efficient manner.
As with any new business venture, it’s advised that you plan ahead before getting started. “Create an online launch plan and decide how much you want to invest in it,” says Thomas Vollrath, CEO of local Web hosting company 1-grid. “Getting your small business online doesn’t have to mean excessive upfront costs, but it’s important that you set aside a budget for the basics like web hosting, branding and marketing.”
Getting a small business online takes time, but technology has made things a lot easier. There are various online tools and platforms that can help you automate processes, build marketing collateral, manage projects and schedule content. Once your business grows, you can then look to employ others with specific skill sets for your business needs.
There is a lot of information floating around about getting a business online and it can all be overwhelming. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, here are three basic steps for getting your small business online:
- Register a domain: Get instant credibility with a unique business domain name. Keep it short and easy so that people remember it. If your market is very local, you could get a .co.za or even .capetown or .joburg domain name. If you set your sights on a larger market, .com or .africa domain names are favoured by search engines.
- Subscribe to Web hosting: Web hosting provides a space for your website and all its data on a local server. Secure your space online and ensure your website is live and available to clients and customers 24/7.
- Build a website: You no longer need to hire an expert to build a professional-looking website. DIY website builder tools make it possible to select a suitable template and customise it to suit your brand look and feel.
- Invest in website security: SMEs are the number-one target for hackers due to their reputation for having poor security. You need an SSL certificate and an anti-malware tool to offer constant online surveillance, monitor breach attempts and resolve threats before they gain access to business data.
Once these foundations are in place, setting up social media pages and basic digital marketing strategies gets easier and more effective. Do some research into social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to see which would suit your brand best. These will help you build your presence alongside your website.
Once your basic social media platforms are up and running, you can look into more advanced tools such as Google Adwords to help you build awareness and generate leads on Google. Growing a business online, from your website to your social media, is not just about the hours put in – it’s also about working smart and investing in the right tools and people to free you up to deal with the bigger picture.
With a focus on SMEs in South Africa, 1-grid.com bases its offering on the motto, “Small business is our business”. It offers a one-stop shop for getting online, from DIY website builder tools, SSL certificates and Web security packages, to domain registration, e-mail hosting and custom website design to customers. “SMEs are vital to the growth of our economy – but they need real and affordable online expertise, support and tools to keep their data secure and their sales growing,” says Vollrath.
For more information on how to get your small business online, visit www.1-grid.com.
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