The advent of the Internet has created a new and exciting economy, which by its sheer scope and size has changed our perception of traditional ways of doing business. Multinational companies like Amazon and E-bay have come up thanks to the Internet and now dominate areas where, just few years ago, traditional brick-and-mortar companies once ruled.
Even small- and mid-sized companies are making impressive profits by taking advantage of the Internet to conduct businesses. One survey by Harris Interactive, a leading market research firm, found that 81 per cent of small businesses that had an online presence during a holiday season reached new customers, leading to an increase in sales and profitability.
Similarly, another study by Gartner research found that 30 per cent of small businesses with a web presence and fewer than 20 employees generated more than 25 per cent of their revenue online. If these statistics are not convincing enough, here are a few more reasons why you should seriously consider investing in an online business, if you haven’t already.
1. You get streamlined company branding
In today’s digital age, people simply don’t take a company or business seriously if it doesn’t have a website. People often quickly check out a company’s product or service offerings and related content online to make quick judgments on the business before they engage with it. That’s why your company needs to have a presence on the Internet, whether you conduct business online or not. Investing in an online business presence is a great way to streamline and bolster your company’s image and brand.
2. You have low start-up costs
Once upon a time, setting up a business online cost business owners a small fortune. Today, however, getting online is not only cheap, but also becoming easier to accomplish thanks to emergence of new technologies. Free website-building tools and open source Content Management Systems like Drupal and WordPress allow you to build a website for free with templates. For less than 10 dollars a month, you can have a full-fledged, self-hosted corporate site with all e-commerce features in place.
What this means is that the playing field for small businesses to compete with major corporations has been leveled. It’s up to you now to step up, take advantage of the low start-up costs, and get online.
3. You have lower risk on investment
Online businesses are generally lower risk than brick-and-mortar businesses because setting one up doesn’t have to cost a lot. Another reason online businesses are low risk is because of their adaptability. With the right investment in terms of online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and so on, it is possible to turn a losing business into a profitable one in a relatively short amount of time.
There are also a myriad of unique ways to make money from your website aside from creating and selling your own products, such as affiliate marketing. This means new ways to create an income stream online.
4. You have reduced overhead and operation costs
Because online businesses generally aren’t tied to a location, they require less work to maintain. This is particularly true in cases where physical products, distribution, rent, and other costs are non-existent. In the retail industry, for example, a shop owner can browse and purchase goods for resale from suppliers around the globe without leaving the comfort of his computer desk. How’s that for convenience?
By simply adopting an e-business solution, your business can reduce more than 5 per cent of your travel, repair, maintenance, and operation costs. This 5 per cent savings can turn into 50 per cent of you company’s net profit!
5. You can do business 24 hours a day all year round
Another huge advantage of investing in an online business is that it makes it possible for you to do business 24 hours a day year round. For example, you can set up a virtual retail shop that never closes, meaning you can literally make money while you sleep.
Even when your business closes for the day, automatic online systems can ensure sales don’t stop. In some cases, automatic sales during off-hours can be more than your regular sales during business hours.
6. You have added flexibility
Thanks to the Internet, if you need to work from home, you can. In fact, you can do your work from just about anywhere in the world, as long as you have a reliable Internet connection. This remarkable flexibility is another huge attractor to many entrepreneurs and business owners. It means you can run a profitable online business while also exploring other ventures, or spending more time with your family.
7. You have access to a global customer base
With an online business, you instantly become a global player. That’s because customers from all over the world can learn about and purchase your products and services with just a few clicks of the mouse. For a nominal fee, you can also get access to large audiences on hundreds of e-marketplaces on the net. AMR Research has reported in the past that more than 1.3 trillion dollars worth of goods and services flow through B2B marketplaces online. You really don’t want to miss out on this growing piece of the pie.
8. You have more advanced marketing tools
Marketing is one of the most important components to any business. What makes marketing online more attractive is the tremendous number of marketing channels you can take advantage of. Blogs, podcasts, videos, social media, email campaigns, white papers, eBooks, and a variety of other assets can all be used to attract your target profile. Admittedly, marketing on the Internet is becoming more expensive, but tracking and measuring your return on investment is much easier and advanced.
By taking advantage of tools like Google Analytics and scoring data from online marketing companies like Moz, you can monitor not just your customers, but also your business competitors in real time. This empowers you to adapt fast and change your approach and strategies as needed. If conversion rates are low, for example, you can make some tweaks to your website to increase conversion.
In addition, targeting specific demographics has never been easier, especially with the rise of social media advertising. You can now define the audience you want to target in precise detail, and begin to market to those people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.
9. You can give better customer feedback and support
Advancements in Internet technology also mean that online businesses can now provide better customer support and deliver information more efficiently. Just a couple of years ago, companies used to require days to deliver product or service update information to their customers. Things have changed since then. Today, if your business is online, you can add or make changes to your company info or product description virtually within no time, publish on your site and share with customers on social media.
You can also communicate with customers in real-time about your products or services online. This means improved customer engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately increased profitability for your business.
10. You have improved networking opportunities
It can get pretty lonely running a business. That’s because business owners spend most of their days in their offices working. In the past, a business owner’s only option was to join a local chamber of commerce in order to network and learn from fellow entrepreneurs. Thankfully, the Internet has created a global community of peers only a click away who can relate to the problems, stresses, and excitement of running a business. You don’t have to join a local chamber of commerce anymore to network.
Simply log on to the blogosphere and join relevant online chat rooms, social media groups, and forums to connect with other business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs. Today, a person in Silicon Valley can exchange ideas regarding promotional and marketing techniques with someone in the same line of business based in Jo’burg, South Africa. It’s even easier than ever before to reach out to gurus and celebrities in your space and work with them online. Certainly an exciting time to get online!