ONLINE BUSINESS STARTUP isn't just a how-to guide in online marketing or SEO... it contains everything an experienced entrepreneur wished he had known when he started in business.
We are flooded with so much information in the digital world that it distracts us from the fundamentals of starting up and running a lean business. This book is ultimately an answer to the question "How can we quickly implement proven strategies for my online business, and avoid all the noise?"
ONLINE BUSINESS STARTUP will teach you:
From the Foreword: “I will be recommending this book to every one of my clients, and I highly recommend it to you. It’s an easy read for the online novice, and will stop you from wasting thousands of pounds and having sleepless nights like I used to.”
About Your Course Tutor, Robin Waite
Robin Waite is a Bestselling Author, Business Coach and Founder of advertising agency, The Coconut Group.
Robin works as a Business Coach working with a maximum of 20 clients at any one time. Robin says, “There aren’t many business problems I can’t fix.” Using a structured 1-to-1 coaching program Robin has a toolkit covering digital, branding, marketing, sales and lead generation, productivity, product and pricing.
The Coconut Group has helped hundreds of business owners and organisations to grow since being founded in 2004.
The Coconut Group focuses on delivering Branding Workshops - using their signature 1-Day Branding Workshop which incorporates a 7-step process to create new brand identities, re-brand existing companies or brand new products.
Choosing a Name for your new startup company can be a daunting and challenging process, so I have created a short video containing 6 tips about what to consider when choosing a Company Name [read the tips below]:
Tip #1 - Are you the brand or is your company going to be the brand?
Tip #2 - Do you want to create a unique brand name and identity?
Tip #3 - Register the company name via Companies House (in the UK)
Tip #4 - Check the availability of Domain Names and Social Media handles which will be associated with your Company Name
Tip #5 - Check if your proposed Company Name is a registered Trademark with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
Tip #6 - Ask yourself, will I still like the Company Name in 5 years Don't come up with a name down the pub, which was funny at the time, if you are going to be embarrassed by it in 5 years, or next week in some cases.
My 6 Top Tips on Logo Design, Branding and Colour Schemes
Tip #1 - Do your research. Find half a dozen logos and brand you like by going to google, search for ‘logos’ click on the images link. Grab a pencil and sketch out some ideas. Finally go to www.colourlovers.com and choose some colours you like.
Tip #2 - Things that don’t constitute a good logo include use of clipart, copying other logos, looking too much like your competitors and using too much detail in your logo.
Tip #3 - Do engage a professional graphic designer, they understand good design.
Tip #4 - Avoid clichés and metaphors.
Tip #5 - KISS – Keep it Simple (Stupid).
Tip #6 - Ensure your brand is used consistently by creating and referring to a set of brand guidelines whenever you create a piece of marketing collateral.
Here are my 5 top tips for managing your accounting & bookkeeping:
Tip #1 - Find A Good Accountant. Finding a competent accounting can be crucial to keeping your books in order and they will be able to give you great advice and may deliver efficiency and tax savings.
Tip #2 - Understand The Basics.Try to read up on the basics of accounting such as profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and cash flow forecasts.
Tip #3 - Cloud Tools For Bookkeeping. There are loads of great cloud-based tools out there that allow you to access the information anywhere, any time
Tip #4 - Cloud Tools For Payroll. Can make the process much more efficient and save time that can be spent on other areas of your business.
Tip #5 - Paperwork. The key is to do paperwork in small bursts, do it a little and often. File paperwork year-round and be regimental.
Here are my 4 top tips for writing a business plan:
Tip #1 - Actually write a business plan. It is an important document that will be useful for you to refer to in the future. It will outline your future aims and objectives and should be no more than 20-30 pages of well structured content
Tip #2 - Market Research. Doing market research helps in the development of a marketing plan and allows you to identify your target market and barriers to entry such as your competitors.
Tip #3 - Realistic Forecasting. Your forecasts must be accurate and based from factual research and market intelligence
Tip #4 - Apply branding. It is a great idea to brand your business plan as it will make it look professional which may be crucial when looking to acquire funding from investors.
Here are my 6 top tips for creating your online business strategy
Tip #1 - Formulate your Strategy. A lack of planning often leads to failure, it is important your objectives and strategies are reflected through your website.
Tip #2 - Apply A Phased Approach. This is a great method to ensure that tasks happen in the right order and that the business is scalable.
Tip #3 - Get Online Early. This helps you gain trust with Google in their search rankings
Tip #4 - Test The Market. This allows you to iron out any issues that may occur through gaining important feedback and gauging the interest in your products.
Tip #5 - Build An Outsourcing Strategy. If there is something you are not confident or an expert in, hire a professional that is.
Tip #6 - Be Prepared For Change. The average life cycle for a web site is 2-3 years which demonstrates how technology is constantly evolving. Make sure you are prepared for the inevitable change.
Here are my 4 top tips for setting aims, objectives & goals within your business.
Tip #1 - Be SMART. When setting your goals be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound.
Tip #2 - Work Backwards. A great tactic which breaks down your aims into manageable steps and identify what is needed to reach your goals.
Tip #3 - Plan For The Future. Consider your exit strategy and what needs to be done in order for that to happen. Your long term business strategy should create value so one day you may be in a position to sell.
Tip #4 - Regularly Audit & Review. Using tools such as Google Analytics helps you to identify where you may be under performing and from there you can pivot to get back on track to reaching your goals
Here are my 5 top tips for writing proposals & meeting deadlines.
Tip #1 - Provide Realistic Time Estimates. This gives you a target to work towards and plan for, while managing expectations so you are not rushing to complete something too quickly.
Tip #2 - Get Signed Propsals. This is important as it allows you to refer back to with the client should any disputes arise and to identify a buffer for delays for any additional features.
Tip #3 - Regularly Review With Customer. This will keep the customer happy and in the loop as well as having the opportunity to uncover any issues and react to them.
Tip #4 - Learn To Say "No". This is all about managing expectations and not over-committing to deadlines which can put an enormous amount of pressure on you.
Tip #5 – Inform The Customer If The Deadline Will Be Missed. This allows you to limit the damage done and move forward quickly and the client will appreciate your honesty.
Here are my 5 top tips for creating a scalable business:
Tip #1 - Document Your Processes. This means ensuring your role is teachable, learnable and repeatable to others.
Tip #2 - Automate Processes. Using cloud services to automate processes will help you with efficiency.
Tip #3 - Existing Customers. Do not forget your loyal and existing customers, it is important that they receive the same high level of service as your new clients
Tip #4 - Invest In Personnel. Having a strong team around you is key if you are expecting growth so that they can deliver an increase in sales.
Tip #5 – Make Sure You Have The Right Product. You need to be able to think objectively about your products and if they are serving a specific need in the marketplace.
Here are my 6 top tips for creating a simple online marketing strategy:
Tip #1 - Free Web Applications. There are a variety of free tools out there such as Google Analytics that you can use to help analyse and plan a great strategy.
Tip #2 - Complete Online Business Profiles. Completing your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile instantly gives you an online presence and makes it easy for potential customers to find you online.
Tip #3 - Upload An Online Portfolio and Get Reviews.
Tip #4 - Share Knowledge. Don't be afraid to give away free advice, as it will present yourself as an expert in the field.
Tip #5 – Paid Online Marketing. PPC and re-targeting are great ways to boost your online sales strategy.
Tip #6 - Hiring Professionals. Hiring an agency that has a vast amount of experience can take your strategy to the next level and result in a growth for your business.
Here are my 4 top tips for Managing Change
Tip #1 - Change Is Never Predictable. External forces are the hardest to predict and adjust to and you may be forced into to change.
Tip #2 - Offload Time-Consuming Tasks. This allows you to focus on your core competencies and outsourcing means you can still deliver a high-level service from the specialists you hire.
Tip #3 - Large VS Small Projects. A great strategy is to focus on fewer large projects and more small projects. Keeping projects simple helps ensure a quality service is provided.
Tip #4 - Plan For Change. Reinvesting into the business means you can strive for continuous improvement and are prepared for when (not if) change occurs.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to find a great web design agency.
Tip #1 - Shop Around. It is best not to go for the first agency you come across, have a look at 3 or 4 and compare prices.
Tip #2 - Create A Specification Document. This document should outline any features you want included and is also great for quoting against.
Tip #3 - Make Sure They Have The Credentials. A good designer will have no problem in showing you their portfolio.
Tip #4 - Look For The Level Of Detail In The Proposal. Have they outlined up-front and ongoing costs? Make sure you compare proposals like for like and don't be tempted to choose just on price.
Tip# 5 - Get Testimonials From Their Current Customers. A good designer will have no problem with this and it can help you gauge what the working relationship will be like
Here are my top 4 tips for choosing the correct feature set for your website.
Tip #1 - Choose Your CMS Carefully. It is a good idea to leave it to your web developer to choose a platform they are comfortable with.
Tip #2 - Use A Phased Approach. This makes it easier to make more accurate time and cots estimates.
Tip #3 - Create A Minimum Viable Product. This allows you to test the market, gain feedback and pivot if you need to.
Tip #4 - Extra Features & Costs. Think about the "must have" features vs the "nice to have" features.
Here are my top 5 tips for planning your website development costs
Tip# 1 - Auto-renew Your Domain. If your domain expires, so does your website. Alternatively you can pay your web designer to manage the domain billing for you.
Tip #2 - Compare Quotes On Like-for-like Specification. Cheap web designers will result in cheap looking websites, so it is important to question if the cheap quotes include the same set of features as the more expensive ones.
Tip #3 - DIY Does Not Equate To Enterprise Level Websites. When your business grows, your website will need scaling and the quality of your site depends on your technical ability. Be willing to pay for professional help.
Tip #4 - Expect Ongoing Support Costs. Consider the ongoing support, maintenance and hosting fees.
Tip #5 - Ask For A Fixed Price Quote Up Front For Any Updates. Then you know exactly how much you will be billed in advance.
Here are my top 4 tips when considering bespoke design vs themes or templates for website development.
Tip #1 - Modern Themes Have Evolved. The great thing about themes are that many specific design trends have found their way into them. However, only use one if it reflects your core message or can be adapted to do so.
Tip #2 - Bespoke Design Will Reflect Your Brand Well. Design is much more flexible for revisions and layout of the features needed.
Tip #3 - Remember "The 7 Second Rule". A customer must know who you are, what you do and where to go next within this time.
Tip #4 - Use The "KISS" (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Principle. If the design is too busy, your message will be lost.
Here are my 4 reasons why you shouldn't use WordPress.
#1 - It's Just A Supercharged Blogging Platform. It isn't an enterprise level CMS platform and often lacks front end quality and good customer user experience.
#2 - Developed By Bad Programmers. It may be that it has a lot of errors and poor site functionality and you cannot guarantee that the developers build their sites to a high standard.
#3 - There Are Alternatives. For the best results, let your web designer use their chosen platform.
#4 - If You Do Want A WordPress Site. Make sure you find a developer that specialises in WordPress.
Here are my top 4 tips on how to find inspiration on other websites for your own website.
Tip #1 - List Websites You Really Like. This could be from your local competitors up to Apple. Theme and template websites are also great for gathering ideas.
Tip #2 - List The Features You Like. The most important thing to consider is the customer journey, creating extra features that aren't needed will just cost you money you need not spend.
Tip #3 - List Elements From Your Competitors. Consider their logo, colour scheme and branding.
Tip #4 - Ask Yourself "What Is The Core Message Running Through Their Site". Good websites tend to have a consistent theme and message, this could be the style of the images or fonts and colours.
Here are my top 4 tips on what to expect in terms of what your web design agency will be doing for you.
Tip #1 - Be Prepared To Write Your Own Content. As the business owner, you know your own USP's and so it is your responsibility to write the content. Additional costs will be incurred for extra services such as copy writing.
Tip #2 - Ask About Your Website's Warranty Period. The warranty period has 2 deadlines associated with it - when it's considered to be finished and when it launches. Don't be surprised if your web developer bills you once the website is considered finished.
Tip #3 - Check What Training You Need. You might need to be trained in how to add content to your site so check what your agency offers.
Tip #4 - Don't Assume Your Web Designer Is A Specialist At Everything. If you need extra services to do with things like SEO and social media, find an agency that specialises in them.
Here are my top 4 Tips for setting customer expectations after launching your website.
Tip #1 - Use Google Analytics. It's imperative you are auditing your site's performance, Google Analytics has a vast amount of data on your site and is a great tool to take advantage of.
Tip #2 - Check The Site Launch Check-list. Conducting a thorough check of your site means you can identify any problems quickly and react to them sooner rather than later.
Tip #3 - Ask Your Web Designer For A Copy Of Their Service Level Agreement. This will allow you to identify where your site may have periods of downtime
Tip #4 - Ask About Your Content Distribution Network. This is a large distribution network of servers deployed across a series of worldwide data centres.
Here are my top 5 tips for ensuring your website is secure.
Tip #1 - Find An Established Agency. The industry is unregulated which means anyone can start calling themselves a web designer.
Tip #2 - Find A Reputable Hosting Provider. If you register the domain yourself, find a good hosting provider and don't forget to auto-renew and keep your credit card details up to date.
Tip #3 - Ensure The Domain Is In Your Name. Your business should be the registered owner of your domain.
Tip #4 - Check Who Owns The Assets. Agencies can be protective over releasing the intellectual property during a site transfer so check who it is that owns all the website assets.
Tip #5 - You Should Not Be Charged For Switching. Customers often have very legitimate reasons for switching, it is unfair and unethical to charge for this.
Here are my 5 top tips for launching your website.
Tip #1 - Don't Rush Your Website. Bugs and issues do happen so it is best to wait and iron out these issues.
Tip #2 - Your Website Is Never Finished. It is an organic product that can always be enhanced through new features or subtle design tweaks.
Tip #3 - Test Your Site Thoroughly. Ensure everything is in working order by running through a site launch check-list.
Tip #4 - Google Is Based On Trust. The longer your site is live, the longer Google trusts you. So by getting a holding page up early, Google has something to index and give you a head start with SEO.
How to use The Site Launch Checklist
This is a list of tests, checks, documents to look out for, pages to test as well as a reminder to set up tools such as Analytics and Webmaster tools. It is a comprehensive list.
Sections five and six in this course demonstrate how to test your website and set up social media correctly so you should be able to confidently identify any problems or errors on your new website.
However, if you have built your own website then I would recommend working through the more technically challenging tests with the help of a web designer.
In this video I am going to talk about why it is important that you can test your own website.
#1 - Confidence & Empowerment
If you are paying a web developer to design and build your website you would hope that it would be done to a high standard. By testing your own website, you can be sure that your website has been built to a high standard
#2 - Faster Response to Edits
Web designers are often very busy and may be juggling several projects at once. By learning about your website and your CMS you can alter your own content without the need for your web developer which therefore speeds up the whole process.
#3 - Cost Saving
Uploading new pages and testing them yourself without the need for a web developer is going to save you money as you don't need to pay your designer for those updates.
#4 - Insight
Gain an insight into the details and building blocks of how a website works.
In this video I talk about the 6 key things that you should be testing your website for.
#1 Page Loading Speeds
#2 Web Standards Compliance
#3 Quality of Your Content
#5 Cross-Device & Cross-Browser Compatibility
In this video, I will discuss the 7 best tools (some of them free tools!) you can use to test your website.
#1 Nibbler - http://nibbler.silktide.com/
Free tool where you enter your website's URL and it will give you a score out of 10 for key areas such as SEO and social media
#2 PageScoring - http://www.pagescoring.com/website-speed-test/Provides key information about the loading speed of your website. This tool will check everything from your domain resolving speed to your download times.
#3 GTMetrix - https://gtmetrix.com/
Uses both Google Page Speed and Yslow to grade your website's performance and provide actionable recommendations.
#4 Pingdom https://www.pingdom.com/ Analyse load speeds AND learn how to make them faster. The tool allows you to trace your website's performance history and test from multiple locations.
Analytics software is essential for any online business. In this video I talk about the benefits Google Analytics can have for your business.
#1 Influence on Indexing
When you add a new page of content, and then view it in the browser with Analytics installed on your website, Google automatically adds the page into its list of pages to index. This alleviates the needs to do a manual submission.
#2 Unique Visitors
This is the most important metric to look at. There are some great filtering tools allowing you to average data out and get a simple overview of traffic so that you can start to set benchmarks.
#3 Bounce Rates
Facebook is the most popular social media platform on the internet. In this video I will give you an introduction to Facebook and how you can take advantage of it for your business.
Google+ can be a great place to connect with your target audience. In this video I will give you an introduction into how to use Google+, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
Increasingly, people turn to LinkedIn to learn more about a business. In this video I will give you an intro to LinkedIn so you can put your best foot forward and boost your credibility, provide key information and get your business discovered.
At the heart of any online marketing plan is a great content strategy. How you plan, create and distribute your content is key to creating engaging material that your followers can interact with and will boost your online presence.
I am a business coach, speaker and the author of a bestselling book called Online Business Startup.
From 2000 to 2004 I worked as a systems analyst in a large medical devices agency. This gave me a great insight into the world of business systems, processes, and efficiency.
In 2004 I was looking for a new challenge and founded a successful branding and digital agency, The Coconut Group, based in the UK. And finally took on the mantle of Business Coach and speaker after the launch of my bestselling book, Online Business Startup.
I have helped over 1,000 businesses create change and growth within their organisation since 2004 through a series of workshops and masterclasses, and 250 businesses directly through The Coconut Group.
I gained a degree in Business Management whilst working as a systems analyst; this has provided me with a unique way of seeing businesses from outside-of-the-box. More recently I won a CPD Award from the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing.