If you’re starting a business, chances are you’re leaning toward starting an online business. There are so many clear advantages to going digital, and besides, we live in the digital era. It almost seems like a silly idea not to go online anymore, right?
Well, while it’s true that starting an online business has a lot of clear advantages, a real live brick and mortar business can still provide quite a lot of benefits that you won’t get from selling your products and services exclusively on the web. Here are some to to consider:
Let’s take a moment to consider the humble eBook. This is such a simple and powerful idea. Simply a book that you read on your laptop, eReader or phone. Anybody can read one, anybody can write one, you can buy them from anywhere in the world, price them whatever you like, and with no real publishing costs besides maybe hosting a website, there’s no risk of loss. It seems like a no brainer to publish digitally.
But then, what if the new Stephen King book was available exclusively in print? Whatever the reason he used to justify the decision, it doesn’t matter. The fact is that the book, perhaps printed in a run of only 10,000 copies, would then become a serious collector’s item. People would be clamoring for live copies, perhaps you might even see bidding wars on eBay for the remaining new copies of the book.
Now, this doesn’t always make sense, not everything needs to be sold in this manner, but consider the 5 star restaurant with only five tables, the jeweler who sells only handmade items. Exclusivity is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, and the web tends to kill exclusivity.
Something else to contemplate is:
You’re not going to be able to start a restaurant online. If you want to earn 4 and 5 star reviews on your secret lasagna recipe, you’re going to have to start a real restaurant. Some businesses simply cannot be done on the web.
That said, there’s no reason you can’t have a serious web presence with your offline business. A local bookstore can sell books on the web. A restaurant can book reservations online. A miniature golf course can offer an online arcade on their website. There are a lot of ways to reach out through the web to bring customers into your offline business.
3. Making the Choice
Choosing between running an online and “offline” business is really a matter of what kind of business you’re hoping to start. Not all businesses need an online presence, and not all online businesses are a smart choice to pursue.
Online businesses cost less to start. You can begin doing web design with nothing but a free download of a few design tutorials. You can start an eBay business with junk from around the house. By contrast, even a business run out of your home will require a little startup cash to get going.
Ultimately it depends on what your business is, and your overall strategy. Offline exclusivity can be a great marketing angle, but so can selling yourself online, so it’s really down to your unique vision.
Sam is an Internet marketer with a background in corporate SEO and social media management. He particularly enjoys finding useful social media reporting software and other programs that make social media management a more efficient process.