As an online entrepreneur, do you have an online business (or are you about to launch one)?
You might think that what really matters is your marketing ability, or your project management skills. However, there are certain technical skills that you might struggle to outsource – particularly in the early days of your company.
Here are three technical skills that online entrepreneurs should consider developing:
1. Graphic design skills
However great your products are – or your thought leadership, or your content – people are going to judge you based on a quick first impression.
That first impression will center on how things look. If your website seems a bit amateur, it’ll put customers off buying. If your graphics are generic clipart, they’re not going to help build your brand. Even a tiny mistake like pairing two fonts that don’t go well together can make your marketing materials less attractive.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to be a bit of a graphic designer, too. You can absolutely hire someone to help, but in the early stages of your company, you probably won’t want to pay a professional every single time you need to create an image.
Tip: Think about your graphic design as a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. How could you use design to create and reinforce your brand? This doesn’t mean making your online presence look completely different from everyone else’s in your niche. It means seeing what you could do better, or with a twist.
2. Cybersecurity skills
As an online entrepreneur, your business might not be vulnerable to issues like flood, fire, or physical theft like a traditional brick and mortar business would.
However, you could still lose your business due to criminal activity. For instance, if your website is hacked and goes offline during a major sales campaign, you might lose out on a huge amount of revenue.
You may not be a cybersecurity expert, but you do need to know enough to protect your business. This means planning ahead for cybersecurity risks – for instance, with automated backups and ensuring that employees follow safe practices.
Tip: One of the most important things you can do for cybersecurity is to use strong passwords. Consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to store them, so you don’t have to remember lots of different ones.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO) skills
If your business is going to succeed, it needs to be visible. For a physical business like a retail store, that might mean having a location with good foot traffic. For an online business, the equivalent is getting lots of traffic from search engines.
Google and other search engines always try to rank the best content for users at the top of their search engine results. You can help them do so by producing great content and by ensuring that you optimize your content so it’s easy for search engines to find and understand.
This isn’t about gaming the system. You need to avoid dangerous “black hat” SEO techniques that could see your website penalized by Google. However, there are a lot of legitimate techniques you can use to make your website better for both Google and for readers. For instance, you can do this by improving your site’s speed and by using the same phrases your ideal customers would use.
Tip: There are three types of SEO: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. On-page SEO means optimizing your website pages for search engines, off-page SEO mainly means building links to your website, and technical SEO means having your website set up in a way that means search engines can easily crawl it.
Building Your New Skills, Fast
As the CEO or online entrepreneur of a small business, you probably don’t have much time to spare. Some great ways to build these new skills quickly include:
- Taking an online course. These can normally be completed at your own pace, so you can go as fast as you like. While some courses cost a lot, there are plenty of others that will suit small businesses on a tiny budget.
- Hiring someone to teach you. This is a more expensive option than taking a course, as you’ll be paying for one-on-one attention. However, it means that what you’re learning is perfectly tailored to what you need.
- Working alongside a group of peers. Another way to accelerate your learning is to learn alongside others, so you can share questions and tips with one another. There are hundreds of online groups devoted to all the above skills. You could join one for free peer support.
You don’t need to be a professional-level graphic designer, a cybersecurity expert, or an SEO guru. However, investing some time now to become competent at all these skills will help your company to grow.