5 Steps to Building an Online Business Strategy

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5 Steps to Building an Online Business Strategy

Step 1: Define Your Target Market

Understanding your customer is critical to your online business success. Knowledge of your target customer permeates everything you do online, from determining your search engine optimization strategy, to understanding what compelling content would appeal to this audience.

Step 2: Decide on Product Offerings

Consciously and purposefully make a list of the products you want to sell online. The best place to start is what products do you sell today offline? Here’s the key to this step – the products have to be described and communicated in the customer’s language. Online business is self service; don’t speak a language your customers don’t understand.

Step 3: Document Technical Requirements

Different target markets require different features and functionality, for example a business to consumer target market requires a credit card payment option (because you’re servicing customers you don’t know). Different products require different workflows; don’t assume every technology supports all the products you want to offer.

Step 4: Find Enabling Technology

The first (3) priorities for choosing an online ordering system are 1) Ease of Use 2) Ease of Use 3) Ease of Use. If your customers can’t use it, who cares about anything else? Simplicity overrides functionality, less is more. After ease of use, the technology has to meet the specific requirements for your target market and the products you want to sell online.

Step 5: Create a Change Management Plan

Transitioning your business from a primary offline business to an online business is a major change. It is critical to take into account where the resistance might appear and how you’re going to deal with it. Engage your staff in the strategy, collaboration builds momentum, sales resources are critical change agents in organizations – leverage their positive attitude towards change.


  1. Dave Grebin on September 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Jen – You totally “get it”…

    Too many try to build the “field of dreams”.
    Or “If you build it they will come”… Only worked in the movie!

  2. Jennifer Matt on September 29, 2010 at 8:41 am


    Thank you. Unfortunately I get it because I’ve lived through too many situations where time, labor, and money was wasted because all the focus was down in the weeds (at the feature level).

    Everyone involved is smart enough, wants to work hard enough – now we just need to move their focus high enough to the strategy level and then we’ll all realize that the features aren’t as important as we once thought.


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