There’s perhaps no better time than now to be an online entrepreneur.

For starters, consider the fact that there are so many tech tools out there to level the playing field for small business owners looking to topple even the biggest of competitors. Likewise, the wealth of programs and platforms to help entrepreneurs put the essentials of their business such as sales and marketing on autopilot in absolutely staggering.

Rather than get overwhelmed by the bells and whistles of today’s entrepreneurial and marketing technology, instead ask yourself this: which investments are going to allow me more time to get down to business?

If you’re running an online business, there are four essential investments to make if you want to spend less time worrying and more time running your empire on your terms.

Securing Your Site

The well-being of your website should be a top priority: after all, you can’t make a single sale if your site becomes compromised. Keeping your digital assets safe requires you to take special care with your business’ information; likewise, make it a priority to…

  • Manage your passwords amongst your team members (think: services such as LastPass which can hide passwords for guest log-ins)
  • Keep your on-site plug-ins up to date, which is especially important for WordPress
  • Using secure payment processing systems and plug-ins which are trustworthy (hint: ratings and reviews can clue you in to what platforms are the most reliable)

The Power of a Proper CMS

Managing your site doesn’t have to be a headache given the wealth of possibilities through CMS platforms such as WordPress. Considering that a bulk of sites already run off of WordPress, there are tons of existing plug-ins out there from Yoast SEO to Mailchimp which can turn your site into a marketing powerhouse. Likewise, the platform’s built-in blog and premium themes provide opportunities to bulild a sleek site that’s truly worth paying for.

Let’s face it: free platforms will only take you so far. If you want to stand out from the crowd, it pays to look the part.

Scoring with Social Ads

Paying for advertising may not seem like the ideal solution for a business just starting out; however, Facebook ads in particular are paying big returns for businesses who’ve tapped into their target audience. There’s perhaps no better place to run ads these days (think: native ads are somewhat of a dying breed), granted you’ve done your homework.

While you shouldn’t run ads from the word “go,” once you’ve amassed a social following and have the budget for Facebook ads, there’s no harm in running a social test campaign.

Make More Money Through Marketing Automation

Marketing can be a huge time-sink if you’re stuck doing all of the legwork yourself.

Instead, take the time to invest in marketing automation platforms to help put your social media and email efforts on autopilot. For example, Hootsuite allows you to queue up and recycle your social posts so you don’t have to slave over your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Meanwhile, big names in email marketing such as AWeber, Sendlane and the aforementioned Mailchimp can help you keep in touch with your customer base without having to manually send messages over and over.

By investing wisely, you can build the foundation for an online empire that’s destined to success. Although there is no “right” way to run a web-based business, these four investments represent a solid starting point for any company looking to stand the test of time.