Everybody's dream is to own a business of their own. So why then, do some small business owners resist what being "online" means and stick with the former marketing mediums of yesteryear? The answer, I believe, is lack of understanding coupled with fear, a combination that may be lethal to some businesses. Read on to understand how today's hippest small businesses are creating boom businesses by using the digital world as their storefront.
We have all seen it. Small businesses open; small businesses close. This economy takes it toll on businesses, small or large. We all drive by businesses every day and wonder - how does that business continue to stay open?
Thousands of small businesses across the globe are reaching beyond their front door to get new business. None of these folks are that "Internet savvy". Yet, they are teaching themselves "on-the-job", so to speak, by starting the use of Facebook and Twitter, and working to establish their presence on shopping robots and online business reviews. It is all about the ability for customers to find your business and know that you are alive and well. My own opinion, as well as countless number of others, is - "if you are not on the Internet, I think twice about doing business with you".
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the last two years have seen nearly half a million businesses of fewer than 100 employees go under. Across the country, the former down-towns that we all remember as forty-somethings are looking like ghost towns. With these sobering realities, many small business owners are dipping their toes into the Web’s waters to reach new customers. As a result, both established players on the Internet and start-ups have eagerly jumped in to help them.
A recent Google study found that 23 percent of businesses are essentially invisible online. Early in 2011, Google began hosting events to help local merchants establish a digital identity. In July 2011, a Google event in Austin, Texas, attracted more than 500 businesses. Google hopes to get at least 100,000 of the 2.5 million small businesses in Texas online within the year.
According to an article published in a recent airline magazine, the art-ware site, Etsy, has seen their site "evolve from a place initially known for helping artists sell their wares into the primary storefront for a variety of homegrown micro-businesses. A dollar spent locally circulates around 30 times within the community whereas a dollar spent at a big chain store circulates eight times.” As I can attest to, when I buy from Etsy, I know who made what I am buying; when I buy from a large chain, my dollar is going directly to a foreign economy - the same economy that took our jobs and lowered our expectation of product quality.
So how, then, does one join the slew of other small busnesses that are waking up to the call of the Internet? There are alot of options out there - Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers, AOL's Patch sites, etc. Each have their own purpose and each have their own drawbacks. Based on their promises, it is easy to fall into the "why not do them all?" mentality, especially when most small business owners have many things to do on a daily basis with limited funds to do it with.
The real answer is this: You have got to be online to be real. And, you have got to try a variety of things and determine what works best for you. Using the Internet to reach people is required in this day and age, but it is not a panacea - it takes a bit of art and a bit of science and time to navigate what works and what doesn't for your business. Ignoring it, however, is a fatal mistake - word of mouth is one thing, but word on the online is powerful. We all know and dream about that warm, fuzzy feeling of the small businesses of yesteryear, but how we go about achieving that dream is where we can help you. Give us a call; we will be happy to help!