Online Business Planning: Monitor Industry Changes Year-Round
When you’re running an online business, you can’t rely on once-a-year planning to scan your business environment and monitor your company’s performance. The online world is constantly changing as new opportunities and new competitive threats arise.
On an ongoing basis, watch for the following:
Technological innovations and their impact on your marketplace: The latest technologies would have been almost unimaginable a few years ago — from telephones with Internet capability to GPS-systems that offer restaurant suggestions. No doubt today’s newest innovation will seem almost quaint in a few years. E-businesses must keep abreast of innovations in the pipeline — and constantly evaluate what risks and benefits they may offer.
Changing customer preferences and shopping patterns: Website activity reports can tell you the nature and number of visitors arriving at your site, as well as what they did while in your web space.
Monitor the pages viewed, files downloaded, dates and times of visits, referral sources, session length, navigation path, and most certainly the keywords entered to find your site in the first place. This information reveals who looks at what and who buys what. Incorporate this data into the ongoing business-planning process.
Changes to your business environment: Conduct a SWOT (strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to assess your business strengths and weaknesses so that you can seize market opportunities and avoid threats. Put the process to work on a regular — by which we mean frequent — basis. In any Internet-based business, you simply can’t wait until year-end; by then, your business could be blindsided by new technologies, competitors, or customer preferences.
Stay ready and willing to adjust components of your business plan as the need or a new strategic opportunity arises.