The Two Big Keys to Online Small Business Success

the mechanics and psychology of online success

In years gone by – and this holds true for many small business owners still today – the keys to success were often relatively few and could be mastered by a single person.

Let me give you a very simple example. Individuals starting a small business that revolved around outside sales could pack up their samples in their cars and then go around and make sales calls. They already had the knowledge to drive the car, so if they were good at engaging prospects, and they had the right solutions, success would usually follow.

Two elements of success

Today, however, a lot of small business success – even for non-ecommerce companies – depends on strategies carried out in the online environment. And, there are two major components to achieving online business success:

  • Properly working with the realities of the Internet, and
  • Properly understanding and addressing the psychology of your prospects.

Although the Internet is a beast made up of bits and bytes and powered by flowing electrons, I like to think about this technical side of small business success today as almost “mechanical.” You have to set up various pipelines, feed search engines the right fuel, boost the speed of your website, hook up an auto-answering service for customer inquiries, etc. It’s really like one huge, digital Rube Goldberg machine that needs to be running smoothly – with everything happening in the right order at the right time – for you to be successful.

The other part of this, the psychology, presents entirely different challenges, and these can be quite subtle. You need to understand what motivates your prospects. You need to be able to think like they think so you can engage them in ways that will make them respond in the manner you need them to respond. This understanding is critical no matter what your end goals are. It’s important whether you want to ultimately make a sale, or whether you just need to collect email addresses.

Personal contact required

By the way, this gets to one of the reasons why I always encourage founders to continue making direct contact with customers. The small business owners I referred to at the top – those who drove from client to client, engaging each one – had a built-in advantage: Their personal contact helped them understand their customers better and build relationships.

Let’s pull this together now. Considering the two big keys to online small business success that I’ve outlined here, how many of those keys do you personally hold? If we can be honest with ourselves, I think most of us would say that we had much better command of one compared to the other.

Where is your strength? Are you an Internet guru who knows how to magically weave all the elements of on-page SEO, off-page SEO, website user experience (UX) design, landing pages, pop-up boxes and all of the other online elements? Or do you have a complete grasp of your prospects and what it is about your solution that makes them fall in love with your product or service?

Who completes you?

Unless you’re that one-in-a-thousand individual who is incredibly competent on both the technical side and the people side of your business, you need to bolster your weaker area with either a partner, employees or virtual workers.

Finally, don’t waste time bringing on the help you need. The doors to opportunity close quickly and even if you feel that the expenditure to get the help you need is going to be painful, in the long run, it will pay off. It’s better to tighten your belt for a short season while you put all the right elements in place than to let a problem linger and cause a longer-term malaise in your small business.