Checklist for taking your small business online
Here are some of the digital tools you can use to take your small business online.
The increased usage of internet-based services in light of COVID-19 is still on the rise and as a small business owner, you must have an online presence to reach more people as well as increase sales. In this article are tools you can use to ensure you have an online presence as well as reaching new customers thus increasing sales.
TL:DR (Too Long, Didn't Read): Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, Whatsapp Business, Website, Tubayo, Youtube, Flutterwave, Eversend, Swipe2Pay, WaveApps.
Facebook platform has over 2.7 billion active users and counting 🤯. That's a huge number of people in one place! As a small business owner, having a Facebook page is a must since it gives your business visibility online on Facebook as well as search engines like Google, Yahoo and the rest.
In order to get your Facebook page more visibility, you can create a Facebook Ad by using the Facebook for Business platform. You can also use Facebook Messenger to engage your audience and also interact with your customers as well as close deals online! So no more "meet me at this restaurant" kind of thing.
The photo sharing platform is part of the Facebook eco-system and its very popular amongst teenagers as well as the youth especially in Sub-saharan Africa. I recommend having an Instagram page and linking it to your Facebook account so as to ensure your business brand is very clear.
Instagram has more business features like Instagram Live, where you can engage your audience in a live video chat as well as Instagram Direct Message which you can use to engage with your customers. Recently they introduced Instagram Reels, a TikTok competitor and I think this one is for the small businesses that engage in creative arts. Instagram rolled out Instagram Shop and Facebook Pay but these are available in a few countries though they plan on expanding these features to more countries with time.
Google My Business
Have you ever Googled a business and you see an information box usually on the right when using a desktop computer? Your small business needs to feature there when someone Googles it as it increases the trust thus creating new revenue streams. To sign up for Google My Business, simply head to the link below and follow the prompts.
You can use Google My Business to engage with customers for free on Google, create a public business profile which can be indexed in Google seach results as well as improve your business reputation online. All these lead to increased sales as well as trust in your business brand. You can also include location and contact information for customers to reach you straight from Google results! Isn't that amazing?
We all know Whatsapp for being the simple but secure text messaging platform which is now also part of the Facebook eco-system. The Whatsapp for Business is a simple and free app for engaging with your customers within Whatsapp. To get started, download the Whatapp Business app and follow the prompts.
Create your business catalog, engage with customers, add auto responders so as to ensure you bring in more sales while keeping costs down in your small business.
A website is simply a place online that has the most up to date information regarding your small business and what you want your customers to know about you. I believe your small business should have a website if you want to offer a unique scalable and custom online experience for your customers or if you are a marketplace, eCommerce or any other platform-based business. Apart from the above, I do not see why you should stress about getting a website for your small business.
You can use online tools like Wix, Google Sites, Webflow etc to design your website using drag and drop means.
A website consists of two very important components which you must understand. A domain name and web hosting. Domain name simply means the name of your website where your customers shall find you plus a country code domain extension eg . com, .ug or one for an organisation which is .org. Web hosting simply means making the website files accessible to the whole world by putting them on a public server.
Tubayo is an online travel marketplace for users to list, discover, and book travel experiences around the world. So if your small business is in line with hosting experiences ranging from homes, travel trips, cooking classes, town tours etc then Tubayo Travel is your go to place for free and easy listing.
51% of online marketing that is done in video form fetches a high ROI (Return On Investment). Video is now a very popular way of passing the message across when it comes to making sales and as a small business, embracing YouTube as part of your sales and branding strategy is important. Your next sales might be waiting on Youtube.
To create a Youtube channel, simply create a Gmail account and go to youtube.com. This is because Youtube is part of the Google eco-system. Simply access your account, create a Youtube channel and begin uploading videos!
The fastest way for a business to die is having dead inventory. This is a situation where a business has products but can't sell them for reasons best known to them. Flutterwave is one of the easiest ways of growing your business through making and accepting payments online. Yes its a cashless revolution and the COVID-19 outbreak has proved that online ways of making payments can work and are a very great way of increasing business sales.
As a small business, Flutterwave offers you a set of tools for accepting and making payments online. You can collect payments through a simple web-based link, integrate it in your existing website as well as mobile app. Flutterwave supports Visa, Mastercard, Mobile Money (yes that's not a typo), MPesa, Visa QR, USSD and Bank transfer. A flutterwave account is free to setup.
You can also create a free online store to sell your goods online in simple steps. Simply click on the link below to get started.
Eversend is that app your friends told you about which can help you move money in different currencies across Africa in a snap and like a boss! As you conduct business online, you do not want to be caught up in a mix of wanting to send USD to your friend in Nigeria but you have Mobile Money on your phone or being stuck with KES yet your uncle in Uganda does not want to walk to the Forex bureau and be charged fees for nothing.
Eversend is a Neo Bank (a bank that only exists online) for the rest of us. A multi-currency e-wallet that allows you to exchange, spend and send money at the best possible rates. Insurance, virtual debit cards, and bill payments.
When was the last time you kept your books of accounts updated? As a small business, one of the most expensive costs to think about is hiring a book keeper or accountant. This is mainly due to the fact that many small businesses do not keep updated records thus do not know where to start from regarding accountability of how money was spent or earned.
WaveApps is a free (yes totally free) accounting tool for small businesses. Send invoices, digital receipts, track and know your paying customers and let WaveApps do the auto accounting for you including reports. Once in a while, you can invite your accountant friend to take a look at the reports Waveapps is giving you so as to get a second opinion. You can also do the invoicing and receipting while on the go.
For feedback, you can reach me on Twitter, otherwise stay safe and keep selling!