Even twelve years ago, when I started my business, it was significantly easier to survive than it is today. Big companies acted like big companies, only going after the giant targets, leaving a lot of smaller targets for small companies. If you could provide a unique value proposition, with great customer service, you could survive. However, making it big was harder, because it took a long time and a LOT of money to extend the reach of your products/services and build the necessary infrastructure. Neither of those things is true anymore.
Today you can look big fast because of the internet. You can get big-company infrastructure for cheap…again, because of the internet. You can reach the entire world, 24 x 7…because of the internet. However, big companies are now offering amazing levels of service, flexibility, and customized products… all because of the internet. The “long tail” theory is giving niche products a much bigger marketplace, but big companies are now able to justify competing in those niches.
So, if you can leverage the internet, your new business can get ahead like never before. If you ignore the internet, you’re dead before you know it. Here are ten signs you are in the dead category:
- You think the internet is a coming revolution. Sorry to break it to you, but the revolution already happened. How often do you use the yellow pages compared to five years ago?
- You still don’t have a website. Unless your business is less than one month old or you are intentionally trying to make this hard, you have a major problem.
- You have a website, but you don’t know how to change it. A website that doesn’t change frequently is dead. And a dead website is a dead business.
- You acquire less than 1/2 of your customers via the internet. Over 1/2 of your customers are looking for you online, so who is getting your share?
- You think your website is just for acquiring new customers. Most businesses earn over 50% of their revenue from repeat customers. Is 50% of your website dedicated to driving repeat business?
- You think your business is local. Flower shops, travel agents, tax preparers, bookstores, all thought they were local businesses. Guess who dominates those categories now? ‘Nuff said.
- You think your website is just for the “front office.” More and more “back office” services are being offered on the web: payroll, voice services, accounting, marketing, etc. all can save you time and money and help you compete.
- You think your website is your internet strategy. Without connections to lead sources, comparison shopping engines, online communities, search engines, mobile services, other websites or blogs, etc. you are living in a Field of Dreams. Trust me, if you just build it, they will NOT come.
- You try to hide that you are a small business. Don’t hide it, small is beautiful. The internet can help you provide big company value, but customers still want small company service.
- You take all of my advice (or anybody else’s). No two businesses are the same, so you have to figure out for yourself exactly how the internet can help your business. Test, learn, improve.
Written by Justin Kitch at http://ceounplugged.homestead.com/2007/02/small_businesse.html