Topic overview

The internet

The internetThe internet plays a vital role in everyday life. 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 ways to use the internet effectively for 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

Getting a business internet connection up and running these days is relatively inexpensive. 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 on the risk of cybercrime.
  • 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 website for your business to promote itself on the internet can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds depending on the design and functionality of your site.
  • 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 this is the first website you have built, or you have a limited budget, start small. There is a range of template-based systems and simple-to-use software packages you can use to build a simple site. 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 selling online. After all, the internet lets you to reach a wide audience, making it especially suitable for selling niche products.