Settlement Guide

How to run your micro-business online

Source: Getty Images/La Bicicleta Vermella

During the COVID-19 pandemic many Australian micro-businesses were forced to implement new digital strategies in order to survive. Digital business experts believe creating competitive advantages are about the ability to evolve, innovate and understand that digital and business strategies are two sides of the same coin.

How do you grow your business, your target audience? How do you do it in a way that doesn’t annoy people? How do you generate content?

With answers to these questions, Dr Sandy Chong, a Harvard alumna and educator in digital strategy, has helped over 200 businesses, including Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, American Express and Apple. 


Highlights

  • Financial assistance and free business mentoring are available through a government-funded New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
  • Targeting the right audience and creating a robust sales funnel can impact business sustainability
  • Applying the 'rule of thirds' to digital communication can help maintain a strong online presence

Dr Sandy Chong says the best way to start the online business is to have a website, identify your target audience and make sure you have an account with a few social media platforms. 

And I would say, not all social media will suit your business so be very selective with who you want to engage with and how.

Dr Chong  says that small business operators from culturally and linguistically diverse communities often face challenges in the online marketplace despite their attractive services or sound business models.

They don’t have the necessary network that you need to drive the initial growth and engagement, and they often have language barriers, so it’s it really hard for them to market effectively online. 

In Australia, for micro and small business operators, financial assistance and free mentoring are available through a government-funded program called New Enterprise Incentive Scheme or NEIS. 

New entrepreneurs can access free mentoring for the first 12 months of participation in the program and receive financial assistance for up to the first 39 weeks of business operation.

small business micro-business woman entrepreneur
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After completing the NEIS training in Melbourne, Maja Jadrijević founded her business venture Maya Dot Earth and started charging for her online yoga classes.   

I had to create a business plan, and then I learned how to create my target market, how to find my ideal customer, and how to create and implement a marketing strategy.

Existing micro-businesses impacted by COVID-19 can access NEIS if they need help to keep their businesses running.

Also, people with part-time contracts, who are working up to 25 hours per week, can access NEIS if they are looking to start their own business. 

While NEIS providers are local; you can also take Employability Skills Training or get financial help to hire new staff

online business content creation videos
Getty Images/10'000 Hours

Lisa Teh, director of the digital marketing firm CODI Agency, says website builders on the market who are offering free plans on how to create a professional website.

If you are targeting business to business services, I’d be all over LinkedIn, but if you are looking to target business to consumers products, then I’d be all over platforms like Tik-Tok and Instagram and Facebook.

Maja Jadrijevic reaches her audience through her website, a monthly newsletter, Instagram and Facebook.

As a recent Croatian migrant, she admits writing content that cuts through the internet was beyond her reach. So, she engaged a person who was willing to help. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, for example, I give my yoga class in exchange for getting my text done.

Business Connect is a free New South Wales Government program offering business advisory services in Arabic, Cantonese, Dari, Iranian, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

Nazanin Majidi, an Iranian speaking business advisor, says entrepreneurs can get practical advice on how to start, run, adapt or grow small businesses in their own language.

This is a free program, and we can help in terms of the language barriers, in terms of what you need to grow your business.

Young women taking photo to shoes with cell telephone or smartphone digital camera for post to sell online on the Internet and preparing pack product box
Getty Images/TravelCouples

Lisa Teh says creating the robust sales funnel has an enormous impact on your long-term business sustainability.

The sales funnel is either about selling your services or products or nurturing potential clients by creating brand touchpoints in the marketplace. 

You have to consistently keep getting your brand in front of people to be a part of the consideration when they actually decide whether or not to spend money. 

However, running a small business and having a digital strategy for every stage of the costumer’s journey can be overwhelming.

Dr Chong suggests applying the rule of thirds.

Branding is one third of sharing the relevant content that is beneficial, inspirational and educational.

Marketing is one third of promoting your business or services.

And Sales is one third of interacting with 20 per cent of your audience that gives you 80 per cent of your revenue.  

You don’t always have to generate all original content yourself. 

Young Asian woman doing online yoga class with laptop in the living room at home i
Getty Images/AsiaVision

During the Melbourne lockdown, Maja Jadrijević learnt the ropes of producing, shooting and editing her yoga classes. 

She says going online was a great way to grow her business and connect with new customers during the pandemic.

Going online brought me amazing opportunities. People are connecting from Sydney, from the UK, from Ireland, Croatia, Singapore, so you can really go global once your business is online.


Get professional and confidential advice from a Business Connect advisor. 

Find out more about help available through New Business Assistance with NEIS

Find out NEIS provider located in your area. 

Visit the SelfStart online hub.

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