Businesses go through several natural stages and the kind of online activity you need to engage in rather depends upon what stage you are at. Every business has to change and adapt, but the kind of changes you need to make online are linked to the stage of your business.
The first stage of business is clearly the start-up stage. What you need to do at that point is to create awareness, interest, and get recognised. You are trying to build reputation and to gain customers.
Online, this means promoting your website, establishing an email list, and using social media to build up a profile, for example.
The next stage of your business is growth and consolidation, so online that means working out where most of your income is coming from and capitalising on it. This is the stage where you need to pay attention to analytics and focus your online activities. Gone are the days where you need to worry about building up email lists, now is the time to capitalise on your existing lists of people who are really interested in what you have to sell.
The final stage of a business is getting it ready for sale, or closing it down when the owners retire. That requires a further consideration of the kind of online activities you undertake. Not only do you want to increase value by carrying on with the growth of your business, but this is the time when you want to use social media activity to find potential partners who may then take on the business after your retirement. In the final years of your business you need to create deep social connections with potential buyers.
The notion that business activities are linked to the stage of the company was emphasised in this article – Motivation and the Three Stages of Franchisees. This pointed out that people behave differently at the various stages of their business life. Given that is the case, then the kind of online activity needs to match those stages too.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+