The Key To Making Your Business Successful Online

What is the most important aspect of business that will make you more successful online?

There could be many answers to this but I believe there is one thing that is common to all of my successful friends and clients. It’s something that on the face of it is obvious, but is largely neglected. In particular, those who are struggling neglect it more than others.

What is it?

I will give you a clue. Go and check out my post over at the Bank of Montreal small business site entitled 4 Key Lessons All Sales People Can Learn From Grandma.

Think you know what it might be now?

OK, let me explain …

Avoiding the Technology Trap

When people look to move their small business online one of two things often happens:

  1. They throw something up and hope for the best (I call this abdication of responsibility “cheque book marketing” – they pay someone as if they are buying a yellow pages ad then wonder why their bottom line isn’t improving).
  2. They become overly concerned about the technology to the point where they obsess over elements that are not going to move their business forward.

Both of these are neglecting what is truly important to growing your small business, and is in fact your small business secret weapon!

What is it? The answer is relationships!

Online Business is Still a People Business

When you move online you do have some needs that need to be addressed, but look at the things that people ask me about as an online business consultant:

  • Traffic
  • Search engines
  • Referrals
  • Links
  • Sharing
  • Leads
  • Market research
  • Networking
  • Customers
  • Sales

What do they all have in common?

Yup, they all involve PEOPLE. People doing things. Their preferences, and their behaviour. You need people to share your content, to link to you, to visit, to subscribe to your newsletter, to read your articles, and to buy your stuff.

You have to focus on making people happy with dealing with you. If you want a long-term, healthy, business. If you want to attract quality leads. If you want to have fantastic customer service.

First, Be Human

People, given the choice, would rather work with people who they like and feel a connection to. Small, agile businesses have the ability to create those connections far easier than larger companies.

It starts with letting people know you are an actual human being. Use your photograph and your name on your website and in your social profiles.

You are not a faceless corporate brand, your brand is enhanced by your own personality and reputation. Keep the stock photography to a minimum and write more like you speak. Open up to feedback, encourage people to talk to you. Reach out.

The more you allow interaction, the more you will get to know your prospects, and the better service you will be able to provide them, and therefore the better reputation you will generate.

How to Make Every Interaction Count

Especially when you first move online and you have few visitors or contacts, you really need to make every interaction count. You do this by

  1. Acknowledge people – We want to be noticed even if we don’t expect much action or a full reply. It’s horrible to feel ignored.
  2. Keep your promises – While we might aim to exceed expectations, at the very least you need to put in your best effort to keep any promises you make (hard as that can be sometimes).
  3. Say sorry – If and when mistakes happen then own up, say sorry, and set about making things right. Don’t let things fester.
  4. Be generous – I truly believe the more you give the more good things happen. Be as generous as you can be without expecting anything in return.
  5. Share good news – Make your customers and contacts the hero. Tell people about the great work they are doing. And, yes, you can let people know you helped too!

Bottom Line

All of this might seem like common sense but look around, how many people actually put this into practice? By being the best person you can be you can actually grow your business brand. Try it!

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

How do you grow your customer relationships online? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is an online business consultant, founder of Authority Blogger and VP of Educational Content for Copyblogger Media. He also blogs at where he teaches small businesses how to grow audiences of people who know, like and trust them.

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  1. Thanks for this post Chris. You’ve made me think.

    As well as the Hub, I provide tech support to micro business owners. I’ve been frustrated lately that I’ve not found time to update my own website. But you’ve made me realise that its so much more important for me to continue what I do do and that is to spend the time listening to my clients and solving their issues…. which has resulted in quite a few referrals 🙂

    • It’s a constant juggle, but I would say the priority is always making sure that people have the best possible experience of dealing with you. Your website is a first impression, but actually interacting with you is a profound lasting impression!
      Chris Garrett recently posted..How to Solve the “Creativity Problem” and Stand Out in a CrowdMy Profile

    • Jo, I’ve visited your website because of interaction, so that comes first 🙂

      Sometimes it’s not possible to maintain the level we’d like. After waking up with a bad sore throat yesterday, I knew I needed to take yesterday off and take it slowly for the rest of the week – or else I’d be properly sick. It’s hard to know I have tweets waiting for replies and emails (from Georgina!) sitting in my Inbox, but it’s one thing at a time. Clients come first.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 reasons cake belongs with bookkeepingMy Profile

  2. Great stuff Chris. For me, the best part about owning a business is the people you meet. The clients, the partnerships, the mentors, the colleagues and the audience. We have this unquenchable need to connect and belong to something. I think where most fail is that they don’t GIVE enough of this attention and sense of belonging to others.

    Thanks for writing this!
    Russ Henneberry recently posted..How To Make A Sales Prospects Jaw DropMy Profile

  3. Really great points Chris. It’s so true – people buy from people, we use different mediums and technologies but it’s still all about people.

    I totally agree with your point about being generous. I’ve found that the more I share and the more useful I try to be with people, without expecting anything back, the more relationships I’m building and the more leads that have developed. It’s a very rewarding way to develop your business!
    Robert Peters recently posted..5 Reasons to Create a Superior Customer ExperienceMy Profile

  4. HI Chris, I really enjoyed reading this post. I often find that people buy from people and so it makes sense (especially if you are a micro business owner) to really focus on that angle in your business and give it your attention. It’s so important that you give your audience the opportunity to know, like and trust you and things like blogging, social media and visibility are all valuable tools for making that happen.

    It’s really great to see you on the Hub Chris. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience with our audience 🙂
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..Get Successful In Your Micro Business NowMy Profile

  5. Great tips Chris, interaction on line is the same as walking into a meeting in the real world. It is important to remember that in all areas of life we get out of relationships what we put in, too often people forget this in cyber space.
    Be honest, trustworthy but most of all be you – it is that which will grow your realationships as well as your business.

  6. Chris, you’re the only one of the ‘big bloggers’ who interacts and pays attention to us ‘little people’ on a relationship level. I know Robert talks with you, I’ve had the odd Twitter conversation and you took part in a discussion in my LinkedIn group Homeworking UK about referral marketing.

    It does show that Chris really does do what he says here – relationships. It’s hard when you have thousands reading your blog posts to continue to prioritise relationships with individuals at the little end, like micro businesses, but being willing to guest post on places like the Hub is pretty freakin’ awesome, to use San Fran techie language 😉
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..A home made brownie for every clientMy Profile


  1. […] Make interaction the norm. Respond to the comments of your readers. Acknowledge them. […]

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