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small business magazine

3 Online Skills Every Small Business Owner Needs

Most businesses at this point are aware that they need a website and an email address, but very few take it any further than this – and some haven’t even gotten that far. This in spite of the fact that mastering a few basic online skills can improve your customer base, your sales, and your customer’s loyalty to you. After you get a well-designed website in place, consider adding these online skills to your repertoire to get more out of your business.


Though many businesses have websites, comparatively few of them have online sales options. Customers can find out what your business does and where it is located, but they can’t make a purchase. Especially considering the instant-satisfaction demands of today’s consumers, this approach may be losing you far more customers than you know.

A basic e-commerce addition to your website is fairly easy and inexpensive to install, and the benefits are myriad. With e-commerce, you can:

    Make sales after business hours. Your business closes at 5 pm and when your customers find out they’re too late to buy from you, they visit your competition instead.

    With e-commerce, they can buy anytime it’s convenient for them, without you needing to open shop.

    Cut down on staff costs. Usually, if you wanted to stay open later in order to allow more time for customers to buy, you’d have to take on more staff or pay your current staffers more. With an e-commerce site, you’ve effectively extended your store hours with no overtime needed.

    Automatically send orders to shipping. Most e-commerce sites will notify whomever you choose that a purchase has been made and needs to be filled. That makes it simple for you to get those orders out without losing track of order forms.

    Set up a secure site so that your customers feel comfortable shopping with you, and start expanding the number of sales you can make in any given 24 hour period.

Review Sites

One of the reasons your customers stop being loyal to you is if they’ve had a poor experience with your business. Usually it only takes one bad experience to turn off a customer for life – and very often, you won’t even be aware that you’ve lost the customer. You don’t even know what it was that made them decide not to return.

Review sites post the comments of actual customers about what they liked and did not like about your business, and they are often much more frank – and plentiful – than professional reviewers, giving you an excellent idea of what you’re doing well and what needs improving. You can also follow up on unhappy customers and turn their opinions of you around with a little customer service.

Look to sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Citysearch, Google Maps, and even Twitter to find out what your customers are saying about you. Google Alerts can send you a notification anytime someone mentions your company, and you can see if anything needs your attention. If you see a bad review, try to help that person fix whatever problem they had with your company, and offer to make amends any way you see fit. Often, you’ll find that unhappy reviewer turns into a loyal customer because of your excellent customer service – and online skills.

Social Media

As we discussed, many of your customers will mention your company on social media sites like Twitter, and you can use that information to improve your business. Social media is also worth mastering because it can help you build personal relationships with your customers. They’ll start to think of you as a friend instead of as a business – and we’re much more likely to want to support our friends.

Several excellent social media sites for business include Facebook, Twitter, and having your own blog. These are relatively easy to set up, and you’ll find that you can make friends with lots of people who come to peruse your page. Be friendly to those people and make them feel at home with you. You’re not looking to sell them anything, you’re just building a relationship and letting them know what your business is all about. That way, if they’re in the market for something you sell, they’ll look to you first. After all, they know and trust you – why wouldn’t they want to come to you first?

Some advice on social media – just be yourself. One of the perks of being a small business is that you really are the face of the company, and customers will feel loyalty toward your business as they grow to like you. Have fun and make some friends – it’ll be one of the best business decisions you ever made.

  • Wix Facebook page
  • Wix Twitter page
  • Wix Google+ page
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