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The internet

Laptops and a globe, representing the internetThe internet plays such a big role in business that it’s unlikely your company doesn’t already use it to some extent. But could you do business on the internet more effectively, and are your internet services doing you justice?

Business internet basics

There are lots of reasons to use the internet in your business. For instance:

  • Attract new customers. With an effective website, the internet can be a great marketing tool for your company.
  • Reach wider markets. Unlike a High Street shop, there are no geographical restrictions online. You can find customers worldwide.
  • Improve communications. You probably use email already. But the internet gives you other options too.
  • Work more efficiently. Whether you use your business internet connection for online VAT filing or finding information quickly, the way you use the internet helps you get more done.
  • Create a new revenue stream. Using the internet for an online shop can give your business a new source of income.

Your objectives on the internet

The investment required to start using the internet may be relatively small. However, it’s worth answering some key questions about what you want from your business internet connection to make sure you put your effort into the right areas:

  • What do you want to do online? For example, do you just want to give your staff access to the web and email, or do you want to create a full-blown online shop?
  • What are the risks? While the internet is often (accurately) described as a land of opportunity, there are risks. Understand the security issues involved in using the internet and educate your staff.
  • How much can it cost? If you simply want to allow your employees to get online, you can get an internet connection for under £20 a month. However, building a sophisticated website for your business to promote itself on the internet will cost much more.
  • How can the internet help you achieve your objectives? Ultimately, the internet is a tool to help your business. So make sure you use it in ways consistent with your business objectives.

Your business internet presence

Some specialist knowledge of the internet will probably be required in order to build a website. You may need expertise in design (to make your site look good), development (to make it function properly) and business web hosting (to ensure it’s available on the internet).

Employing extra members of staff to run your website can be hard to justify, so it may make sense to outsource this to a company with experience working on the internet. Use a web design agency to complement your in-house skills with specialised knowledge and experience when you needed.

If you’ve not built a website before, or have a limited budget for your business internet projects, start small. This will allow you to experiment and make mistakes while the stakes are low. Then, once you’ve proved your website works, you can refine and expand it.

To make your website truly effective, treat it as an ongoing project. Update it regularly and add new features as you go. You can also test your website, establishing benchmarks with web analytics programs on the internet to see how it’s performing.

You can also consider starting to sell online. After all, the internet lets you to reach a wide audience, making it especially suitable for selling niche products.

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