Top Tips & Tools For Digitizing Your Business

Want to Get Your Business Online? Here's How to Make it Happen

Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting your business online as a way to reach more customers. Then covid happened to the world and you realized that you had to get your business online as a means of survival.

In the midst of the pandemic, The Nice Center has been supporting small businesses by helping them digitize their products and services. Throughout the process, we’ve taken notes on what’s been working best for our clients. Shared below are the top tools and tips we’ve found to get your business online and thriving.

Google It

It’s shocking how many businesses go to great lengths to create an elaborate website, yet fail to claim their own business on Google. Customers are more likely to search your business name on Google than they are typing in “www.whateveryourbusinessiscalled.com”. Meet them where they’re already going by claiming your business on the world’s most ubiquitous search engine.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

No, we’re not talking about unloading your investment accounts. We’re talking about selling your products and services! We’ve compiled a list of e-commerce tools and websites that you should consider when moving your business online.

  • If you’re selling products and widgets, consider…
    • Shopify: If you have a wide range of products, Shopify has a great dashboard for keeping inventory orderly and archived.
    • Squarespace: Beautifully designed templates make it easy for you to set up a site quickly.
    • Gumroad: An easy-to-use platform for selling digital and physical products.

Not sure which one to pick? Check out this side-by-side comparison to help you decide.

  • If you’re selling services — from coaching or consulting to music lessons or therapy —  consider…
    • Squarespace: Again, beautifully designed templates catered toward booking appointments and keeping your calendar full of clients.
    • Patreon: This isn’t so much a commerce site as it is a gateway for receiving recurring financial contributions from fans and followers.
    • Square By Appointments: More commonly known as a payment platform, Square can also help you book appointments and take payments through one service. (Naturally, this makes a lot of sense if you’re already using Square as your point of sale.)
  • If you’re not interested in our first two website-building suggestions, then maybe you’d like to give these ones a go…
    • Wix: Easy to use, and free!
    • WordPress: Easy enough to get started, but can become complex, depending on what you’re needing from the site. This is a good option if you’ve got plans to customize a lot down the road.
    • Weebly: This website-building service syncs with Square and works nicely as an e-commerce platform.

How Will You Reach Your Customers?

The most sophisticated website in the world won’t mean much if customers don’t know about it. If you’re just beginning to share about your business online we recommend that you focus where your customers already gather. Speak to their needs, not your business. Sound counter-intuitive? It’s basic human psychology; people want to know you care about them. Do that first, and then they might ask what you’re selling.

  • Email: Before creating a marketing campaign across multiple social media channels, just start with your immediate email contacts.
    • Mailchimp: Start gathering emails from friends, supporters, and customers, and share personal messages straight to their inbox when your business has something new to say.
  • Social Media: Don’t be overwhelmed by all the options for social media tools these days. The important thing to do is to consistently post on the ones where your customers congregate.
    • Instagram: If your business sells a product, or shows up well in photos, then this a great place for you to show off what you do. Bonus: sync it up with your Facebook business page store and you can sell products through your photos.
    • Facebook: The Facebook is the OG social media platform nowadays. And, it’s still helpful for advertising events, organizing into groups, and, as mentioned above, setting up a store. (For more on setting up your Facebook store, this article is very helpful.)
    • YouTube: If you’re regularly sharing video content, then having a YouTube channel is a no-brainer. Even if YouTube.com is not where your customers ultimately watch your videos, having a channel enables you to upload videos that can then be embedded and shared elsewhere, like on your website, newsletter, or Facebook.
    • LinkedIn: More of a professional vibe on here, which may suit your business well. If your work doesn’t fall into the “professional services” category, then this is more of a place to network.
  • Blog: Remember, you don’t have to do this. If the thought of maintaining a blog gives you anxiety, then, simply, don’t do it. But, if you enjoy writing, and are able to keep a consistent schedule, then blogging can serve to build your email list and spread word of your business across the web.
    • Medium: A public forum for bloggers and writers.
    • Your website will likely have a blogging option, so you can do it on there, too.
  • Podcast: Maybe you’d rather just speak your words rather than write them down. We use podcasts for interviews, but you can also use them to monologue and reflect on topics specific to your industry.

Show Me The Money!

Getting paid is critical to keeping your business viable. (Duh.) But there are quite a few options for receiving money from your customers. So here’s our two cents on payment services we’ve used to make the cash flow.

  • Payment
    • Venmo: This is kind of a run-and-gun way of receiving payments, but could work if you’re doing a pop-up business, or doing a limited-run of sales.
    • PayPal: Great merchant services, including invoicing options, and very adaptable to a range of businesses.
    • Stripe: The “standard” payment platform for online businesses. If you have an e-commerce platform, you’ll want to look into this.
    • Square: So easy to use, wonderful sales trackers, captures emails on credit card swipes, portable, etc.
    • Moonclerk: Good for nonprofits or orgs that receive recurring payments (like donations).
  • Extra Financial Support

These are just some of the tools and services available to help your business succeed online. If there are others that you think should make this list, please email Dane at: dane.m.johnson@ndsu.edu with more.


Need Help Going Online?

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Posted on March 25th, 2020 by Dane Johnson in Resources