Tag Archive for 'e-Business'

Don’t make a business wardrobe faux pas

The late comedian, George Gobel, once joked that he felt like the whole world was a tuxedo and he was a pair of brown shoes. Some small businesses may be starting to relate due to their uncompetitive Internet capability.

 

Not too long ago, a national survey indicated that half of small businesses don’t have a website. This number is difficult to believe, but it’s probably pretty accurate. Some business owners still don’t understand that a website is not just for selling things online, the way Amazon does. More often than not, customers just want to find out who you are, what you sell, why they should care and how to contact you.

 

Recently, when we asked our audience about their websites in an online poll, six of 10 of our respondents said their website is a critical part of their business. And a little more than a third said they have a website, but it was just an online brochure. Even the five percent who don’t have a website said they intend to get one.

 

So why do our findings differ so much from the research mentioned first? Clearly, members of my audience, by definition, are smarter and higher adopters of technology than the average small business owner. After all, how could you hang around with me for very long without succumbing to the pressure, guilt and shame I lay on anyone who is not taking advantage of the Internet? To paraphrase Erich Segal, tough love means never having to say you’re sorry.

But while it’s difficult to believe that 50% of small businesses do not have a website, our 95% adoption number likely indicates that those who don’t have a website won’t admit it, even anonymously.  It might seem like twisted logic, but it’s a good thing to be self-conscience, if not embarrassed, about not having something so essential to 21st century business success.

 

Your world of customers and competitors is proceeding to dress itself up with the online capability equivalent of a tuxedo. If you’re inadequate Internet capability has you feeling uncomfortable about being uncompetitive or, worse, irrelevant, congratulations; not because you showed up at a formal event in a pair of brown shoes, but because being aware of the deficiency is the first step of many toward getting your business properly dressed for success.

Here are three of several places where you can get a website produced and hosted quickly and for low or no cost.  Yola.com, Homestead.com and Webs.com.

 

If you have a Web presence, keep improving and upgrading it. If you don’t, get one.

Recently on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about the importance of having a web presence with Anita Rosen, author of several books, including E-Commerce a Question and Answer Book, and e-Learning 2.0. Anita is also president of ReadyGo.com and a valued member of my Brain Trust. Click on one of the links below to listen to our conversation, and, as always, leave your comments.

 

How difficult is it for prospects to find your business online? with Anita Rosen 

How does your website serve prospects and customers? with Anita Rosen

Serving customers online is not an option, it’s an imperative

Continuing the series on small business responses to poll questions on our e-newsletter and website, recently we asked this question about e-commerce (aka online sales, aka Internet sales): How much of your small business’ annual revenue comes from online sales? Here is what our respondents said:

·  Five percent said all revenue came from e-commerce.

·  Fourteen percent said more than half of their sales came from the Internet.

·  A little more than half said e-commerce represented less than 50% of total sales.

·  One fourth said they had no online sales at all.

E-commerce has been around for a big chunk of the commercial Internet age, which began in 1995 when unencumbered access to the Internet was fully allowed. But in terms of historical marketplace practices, e-commerce is just a baby.  So I’m actually quite pleased with the mix of responses we received, indicating that 75% of small businesses are generating some e-commerce revenue.  But over the next five years, there will be significant increased pressure to generate online sales.

According to the research firm, Forrester, online sales will reach $248.7 billion in the next five years, accounting for 8 percent of total U.S. retail sales by 2014. But the next statistic may be more important (read: ominous) for small businesses.

Forrester also predicts that by 2014, over half of all retail sales will be influenced by online product and company research before customers make a purchase.  The reason this stat is so significant is because of another piece of research that produced this astonishing number: Half of small businesses DO NOT have a website.

Regardless of size or industry, no business can expect to be successful in the future without a web presence. Even if you don’t sell online, you MUST be available online so prospects can find you the way people are looking today. Here are two words that make having a website even more of an
imperative: local search.

Local search is increasingly replacing the phone book or dialing 411. Even when customers don’t expect a business to have e-commerce capability, like a restaurant or dry cleaners, they do expect to be able to find you online, with product offerings, directions and a clickable phone number.

If you don’t have a website, get one; today you can actually get a simple one for free. And unless you sell nuclear products or Stinger missiles, please, find a way to offer e-commerce to your customers; It’s not free, but it’s no longer cost-prohibitive.

Serving customers online is not an option, it’s an imperative

Small business, online customers and local search

One of the most troubling statistics I’ve seen lately revealed that approximately half of small businesses STILL don’t have a website.  If you’re one of those companies that have chosen to disregard the billions of prospects who are online around the world, I have two words to say to you that should get you motivated:  Local search.

Every second, zillions of people are typing, tapping, thumbing or, in the case of smart phones, saying into their computing devices (computers, cellphones, etc.) search words that are the objects of their immediate desire, plus one more thing: Where is the closest place I can find this?  Local search.

Pepperoni pizza in Peoria.  Model trains in Monroe. Wedding planners in Wausau. Local search.

Are the doors of your business open to the world of online customers? Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about finding success online with Stephen Pierce. Stephen is an Internet multi-millionaire who runs an empire of online businesses and three different coaching clubs. Take a few minutes to listen to what Stephen has to say, and be sure to leave your comments. Listen Live! Download, Too!




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