Archives for November 2013

Do Small Businesses Benefit From Being Online?

The answer is a resounding YES!  Thanks to the Web, today’s small businesses can sell products and services worldwide.  However, many owners are hesitant to go online because they believe it to be too complicated or opt instead to forego their own domain and instead use only social sites or reseller sites like Ebay or Amazon.  However, a lot more can be done with a business domain online.  The article below, from Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2013/11/25/how-much-is-online-presence-helping-small-business/) discusses this.  We should add that nowadays there are many easy-to-use tools and services that allow a business to go online without having an IT department, as well as many business support providers that can help get your business online.  We at KZ Management are one of these – we can help you get your business online inexpensively and maximize market reach.

 

How Much Is Online Presence Helping Small Business?

Research demonstrates that smaller businesses, by and large, are not maximizing the benefit of their Internet presence.

This may be surprising to hear, and even disappointing to some, but it should be pointed out that those taking advantage of it, are really experiencing significant gains.

So why are so many still missing the boat?

Small businesses can often be charged with the harsh reality of just keeping the lights on. Computer and communications technology is complex and even somewhat obscure to the general public – not everybody wants to spend their weekend figuring out how to optimize a deployment, and others, well, they’re just not necessarily built for it.

But the research, conducted by San Mateo, CA-based Merrill Research, demonstrates that smaller businesses can leverage their position with minimal.

The a recent study — called Benefits And Barriers Of Bringing A Small Business Online: Perspectives From Global Small Businesses — helped to shed some lightThe study was conducted earlier this year (late May though early June) and measured the responses of 1,050 businesses with 1 to 49 employees. The demographics were as follows: 150 each from China, France, Germany, India, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom. All of the respondents were from the commercial sector (i.e., not educational, governmental, military, or non-profit) and they had to have an online presence of some sort (either a website, social media account, ecommerce site, local review site, or blog).

What was ultimately discovered was of considerable interest. ils turned out to be pretty interesting. While most understood the importance of an appealing website, many simply opted for social media in its stead.

The essential wisdom garnered was that small businesses, most of which don’t have IT people on staff, think that using a social medium to host a Web presence is easier than doing it themselves. Why? Primarily because these sites offer a simple template that simply has to be populated. And, among those who were involved in eCommerce (selling things over the Internet) sites like Amazon.comEtsyShopify, or eBay seemed to most as good a place as any to set up shop online.

Unfortunately, those who choose such direction may be missing out on the true value of having one’s own, well defined space on the web..

The value of a domain for a small business is far more significant than many realize. Not only does it provide the foundation for one’s home page, but it can also be used to point at one’s Facebook or other social media site.  It may even be used for branded email – a hallmark for “real” businesses.

It turns out that before many respondents created their websites, a slight majority of thought that their greatest inhibitor would be a lack of technical knowledge. Some other perceived obstacles mentioned included cost, support, investment of time, and security. Upon project completion, concerns turned to web maintenance and content sources.

It seems most don’t realize how many affordable and effective solutions exist in today’s market.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • A great way to differentiate yourself is to find ways to continue great relationships and support with online customers. Let them know you care and that they are appreciated.
  • You are the expert of your product. And even online, special preference will be give to local business. Don’t miss the opportunity to remind how available you really are.
  • Make sure your online presence is all that it can be. Again, their are cost effective ways to look like you really know what you are doing. Looking established will set you apart right from the start.
  • If you take your online presence seriously, there is no better way to compete with “the bigs.” In fact, it is entirely possible to take a bite out of larger competitors’ volume.

Turnaround Business is Normal Business

It is a well-known fact that most startups fail, and some sources claim that up to 95% of new startups fail within 5 years. However, even those businesses that survive the first five years must make sure to not relax their standards or become complacent. Small business owners must keep their focus on maintaining ROI, efficiency, and cash flow as well as adapt to the ever-changing competitive environment. If business performance begins to slip, these businesses may quickly find themselves in a turnaround situation that requires adjustments to how they operate. In fact, a turnaround mentality may just be the best ongoing strategy to increase the odds of business survival.

Think Long-Term

Turnaround plans may provide tangible quick results but diligent effort must continue toward improving business performance. The term to always keep in mind is “Kaizen” which is Japanese for continuous improvement. It is an easy trap to see quick results and fall back on the bad habits or assumptions that caused poor performance to begin with.

 

Question Everything

Every assumption and operating tenet should be reviewed with an eye to improving performance. Many businesses owners and their staff make the mistake of relying on “that’s how we’ve always done it”. What may have worked in the past may not be working now.

Be Realistic

Many business owners look for a “silver bullet”, or a single tactical or strategic change that will turn their business around. While there are rare examples of such things happening, truly high performing businesses work to improve every facet of their operation.

Mind the Data

It is easy for panic or desperation to take hold when a business is in turnaround mode. The danger with this mindset is that it often leads to instinct-based decision making. While your “gut” is something to always listen to, don’t forget to check the data to ensure it supports your decisions.

Repeat what works

The business fundamentals of successful businesses are the same ones that help a business turn itself around and become successful once again. If it works, then why not keep doing it? These days, turnaround business mode is just normal business.

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