Why an internet business?
It’s one thing to decide to set up a business, but now consider the advantages of doing it online. Some have compared the advent of the internet with the invention of the printing press. In the same way the printing made books cheap enough to be distributed to the masses (at least to those who could read), the internet allows a businessperson in their broadband connection bedroom to connect with billions of buyers.
In many ways, direct mail was the forerunner of the internet as a distribution channel, and much of the best practice established by direct marketers is still valid today. Let’s take a look at the benefits of doing business online.
Long Opening Hours
An internet business can be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you’re selling a downloadable product, in fact, the sales side can take care of itself. The dream of many aspiring internet entrepreneurs is to wake up in the morning, turn on their computer and gaze adoringly at the mountain of automatically fulfilled orders as their PayPal balance grows. The promise of the internet is a business that, once set up, can be left to run itself as an efficient, low-maintenance, money-making machine. Whether it lives up to that promise is another matter.
The internet also lets you quickly and cheaply test the performance of different product lines and the effectiveness of marketing approaches. Imagine you had an idea that there was a demand for 100% natural puppy-training treats. Twenty years ago, your choices would boil down to either selling them yourself or finding a distributor. It clearly wouldn’t be practical to rent a shop to sell one product, so you’d have to go into the general pet trade or, perhaps, hire a market stall. Finding a distributor would be little easier, involving lots of negotiations and committing to a large production run.
Fast-forward to the present day. Within a couple of weeks you can have a website up and running with a low-cost shopping cart, payment handled by PayPal, and production limited to whatever you can handle in your kitchen. If there turns out to be enough demand, you can then ramp up production, increase your marketing spend and enhance the shopping experience.
Because of this flexibility, internet business can often be scaled to suit you. For example, they can be run alongside a normal job, either permanently or until you want to increase the income generated and go full-time. They can also take up much less time than traditional businesses, because so much of the work normally done by human beings is handled by software.
Competing with the Big Boys
The final major benefits of the online business is that it’s possible for the smallest concern to compete on more or less equal terms with global corporations. Since you have no physical shop, your customers can’t necessarily tell how large your business is. A well-designed, smoothly running website can, without misleading customers, appear just as polished and trustworthly as Amazon or Tesco.