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Your Own On-line Business

By now, it will be evident that getting noticed isn't easy. Once you achieve that much, if only in a small way to begin with, you have to keep it rolling. You've probably heard of particular Internet features going viral, like cute videos on You Tube. That's when the initial visitors to a web page recommend it to someone else, who passes it to another, and so on. It's a bit like pyramid letters, a ripple that becomes a tsunami. The chance of your small business venture achieving this status is remote, but you have to be prepared for a better-than-expected success, especially when you first launch your website - call it curiosity value. Should this happen, you must be ready to fill every order immediately as if it was the only one. That's what the customer expects - special, personalised attention. Fail to do this and your reputation for inadequate service will spread far quicker than you can fix the problem and get back on track. Whether you are manufacturing yourself, or buying in from another source, make sure you have enough stock on hand to fill at least a few orders. And bear in mind how long these stocks will take to replenish if they sell out on the first day. I'm not suggesting you should pile up the spare room with ready-made T shirts - that's not the idea of on-line selling - but you must try to hook as many of the shoal as you can before it swims off. Then you have to cast out some more ground bait to attract new clients. Always be on the look out for fresh ideas, and never let up on the promotions - you have to bring in the customers any which way you can before your opposition grabs them. That's the nature of on-line business.

On-line shopping is easy for both buyer and seller, and the money side is no different, having been tailored to suit the medium. The customer simply grabs a shopping cart, clicks in the intended purchases, then goes to the check-out department. Depending on your type of business, you may prefer not to handle this yourself, rather passing on the responsibility to a trustworthy payment agency. Pay Pal springs to mind, but there are more to choose from. I would prefer not to make recommendations because doesn't actually sell anything, so there is no exchange of money. From your point of view, however, you will most likely need to put a system in place so that buyers can pay you. And, of course, there may be times when refunds have to be dealt with. These, especially, should be treated with no-less importance than a normal sale. If the customer has to wait too long, or is made to feel dissatisfied, they won't be coming back and will probably spread news of your untrustworthiness. That's something you don't want. Find yourself a reputable payment agency that suits the way you do things and doesn't have too many provisos that are likely to leave you waiting for your money, or out of pocket if something goes wrong with the transaction. If you know of someone already operating an on-line business, have a word with them about it before you make your decision. This is particularly important if you are considering keeping it all in-house and like the idea of taking on the money side yourself. Believe me, it's a huge responsibility and very convoluted. Personally, I'd leave it to the experts!

If your stock in trade is downloadable, as with eBooks, software and computer packages, there is the extra problem of security involved. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a must if you are to prevent your programs being hacked, then copied and sold illegally. You should also think about how you are going to prevent original buyers from copying your product and distributing it among their friends - every one means a lost sale for you. Once again, be thorough in your research of suitable marketing companies before you take the plunge to do it yourself. Like the payment agencies, they operate 24/7, which means you can sell to anyone in the world, anytime, and the initial transaction can be done and dusted in minutes. All you have to do is get the orders out as quickly as you can.

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