How To Use Online Resources To Grow Into A Multi-national Company?
By Nishant Kumar
Running an MNC is the holy grail of every entrepreneur. Not more than a decade back the rate at which business flourished was almost five times lesser than it is today.
Online resources have helped companies - that would have otherwise remained confined to a town - to expand their reach worldwide.
I recently happened to interview one of my colleagues ‘Alex’. After heading operations in several VPS hosting companies, Alex decided to venture one of his own. Just last week, the company turned four, and despite being in its infancy the firm has cast imprints in the local hosting business.
If you happen to be an entrepreneur, or soon thinking to be one, here are a few tricks you can buy from Alex.
No substitute for websites
Websites are inarguably the most cost-effective way of running a business, especially one that needs a lot of inventory.
It makes sense to have one big warehouse and ship orders from that warehouse rather than having multiple stores all throughout the country. Big companies can afford that (having various stores) but the smaller ones cannot - at least for first five to ten years.
How did you use websites to spread business nationwide?
“To cater to multiple locations, what we needed was an online platform. We made a website that was catchy. Though, the idea of establishing multiple offices was always on our mind, it never got off the board because the results we had with our website was enough to keep us thriving.“
Market products. But do not do so overly.
Even today, there exists a plethora of marketers who do not want to move past print media marketing. We do not really understand the need to stay tied to techniques that have long outdated. Obviously, in some cases, prints might have a better reach than the internet, but not always, and the internet has had an edge at every place else.
How did marketing help you and what were the dos and don’ts?
“We launched an email campaign even before we inaugurated our facility. What I stringently focused on was to not send mails more than twice a week as the client can get irate.
Overly marketing is twice as dangerous as not marketing. One should make customers through luring with benefits and not by coercing.”
Customers find you when search engines do.
It is essential that you are within at least the first three pages in the search engine rankings or your website is good for nothing. 75 % of the visitors will never scroll past page one. Technically, there isn’t a better place to hide a dead body than google page two.
So, whether page 2 or page 100, it makes very little difference, as you would only be left to scavenge on the leftovers of page 1 traffic.
How did you get ranked? What impact did it have on your business?
“We hired a native SEO freelancer. Once satisfied with his work, we offered him full-time employment in our firm.
You do not want to compete in the global market as there are other big predators (competitors) that will prey on anybody that poses any imminent threat. We kicked off optimization for local searches; it was easier. Once we had ranked our sites with local keywords, we shifted our focus to global pages.”
Mobile-friendly is customer-friendly
52.2 % of the traffic is mobile. Mobile phones do not have the same screen resolution as desktops. Websites that load exceptionally on a desktop often get distorted when viewed on a smartphone.
How likely do you think visitors are to spend time on a website that is not optimized for mobile view? Not more than a few seconds. The visitors will probably abandon as soon as they see icons misaligned and one over the other.
After such poor experience, some might not open your website on a desktop as well.Not having a mobile-friendly website is like running a race with legs tied.
Let’s see what Alex did to counter this problem.
“I had a developer simultaneously develop both desktop and mobile versions of our website. You are only as good as you look. A poorly web UI (User Interface) is a mark of incompetence, one you cannot afford in today's slit-throat competition.”
The last thing you would want is to burden yourself with operations that are not as crucial, and yet mandatory, as any other operation. It is better to outsource such processes to a third party.
Say, you can hire a third-party legal advisor or a Chartered Accountant, or completely outsource your call center - all being available on the internet.
How did outsourcing benefit your company? Did you outsource any of your processes?
“Outsourcing is necessary. One cannot take care of these many operations concurrently. After all, we are all humans.
We hired a third-party call center to outsource all our customer service operations. This reduced the burden and also reduced our operating expenses. We were also planning to contract out a legal advisor, but we did not find anybody good enough out there.
And all this was done over the internet. No site visit. No unnecessary formalities. Everything was absolutely paperless.”
While many would argue that the internet is not as easily accessible in the countryside as it is elsewhere, but is it not the same with offline stores too?
Because there is an ever-increasing shift towards the internet, one is likely to build a more diverse clientele with the internet than one can in any other form of business.
It is also imperative to know to what level the international network has reduced upfront spendings. It takes not more than a few hundred dollars to start a website. Even though you have a centralized distribution warehouse, you can do business in as many locations as you want. With offline stores, you would typically need at least one outlet at each location.