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How to Use the Internet to Boost Your Business

By Hector Cisneros

Image courtesy Pixabay

Business has always been a tough proposition.  Statistically 2/3 of businesses fail before their third anniversary.  That’s because there are numerous factors that can torpedo a venture before it gets started.  Everything from a lack of funding and marketing knowhow to finding capable staff and dealing with wily competitors are some of the reason that fledgling businesses have been known to crash and burn.  Add to it the fallout from the Coronavirus and it’s a wonder that anyone chooses to start their own business nowadays, right?  Before you throw in the towel on a potential business venture or one that’s gotten off to a rough start, allow me to show you five ways the internet can help you right your sinking ship of commerce or kick one off that will stand the test of time.

      1.      Business Funding – Back in 1994 there were only a few ways that most entrepreneurs could use to find the financial backing to get a new venture going.  People either dipped into savings, borrowed from friends or family, or dug a hole in their credit cards and prayed they could get it back before the interest rates ate them alive. 

Today’s tinkerers, dreamers, and schemers can tap crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe among others to secure startup funding at the click of a mouse.  The best part about these sites is that they not only offer to help you start your business, but they do so without requiring you to cede any equity in your firm or even pay back the investors in some cases.  What a deal!

So popular has this form of funding become that there are now books and online video tutorials that show you step by step how to crowdfund a startup or take your existing business to the next level without giving up controlling interest in your firm. 

      2.      Business Startup – Before the advent of the Internet there were only two viable business models from which to choose: Brick-and-Mortar or Mail Order.  Both these models were expensive to operate since they came with hefty price tags.  The brick-and-mortar model necessitated renting or buying space, as well as furnishing and stocking the shelves, all of which could take months to accomplish.  And all of this had to occur before you promoted your business and opened your doors.  These models are still a risky way to go into business.

Mail-order businesses while eliminating the overhead associated with a brick-and-mortar was not without its own perils.  Back in the 90’s this business model required an entrepreneur to purchase and warehouse inventory and then print and snail mail tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of catalogs in order to generate sales.  While some businesses still use this model today, more and more mail-order ventures rely on the internet to showcase their wares and process orders electronically.  This not only saves time and money, but it saves a whole lot of trees as well.

The one model that wasn’t available before 1995 was the eCommerce model.  This kind of business requires no retail or office space, can usually operate on low or no inventory and can rely for the most part on the Internet to promote the business and take orders.  Some eCommerce business models can process and deliver their products and services without having to warehouse any goods whatsoever.  If you’re looking for a low-cost way to start or expand a business, eCommerce can be the best thing since sliced bread. 

Image courtesy Pixabay
      3.      Business Marketing – Back in 1994 there were three primary methods to promote your venture: Print, Radio and TV.  None of these models were particularly user-friendly or cheap.  In most towns there was only a single newspaper and a handful of broadcast stations to for business advertisers to employ.  This gave the owners of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations the ability to charge whatever the market would bear, thus pricing many would-be entrepreneurs out of the market before they could even get their venture off the ground. 

Then along came the Internet and sites such as craigslist, eBay and YouTube were born that gave startups a whole new lease on life.  Not only have these portals become a success, they’ve become so successful that they actually undermined the stranglehold of their more traditional media counterparts. 

For small businesses, the advent of online marketing has not only meant the difference between life and death, it’s provided a means for small business owners to use blogs, social networking, podcasts, and video to create a sustainable marketing model since promotional expenses are much less than they were twenty seven years ago.

      4.      Business Staffing – Hiring a staff is still something that causes many business owners to wake up in a cold sweat in the dead of night.  The costs associated with hiring, training, supporting and housing employees can be a daunting task for any business, let alone a startup with limited resources.  Back in 94, with the exception of temps, there was little a business owner could do to contain the costs associated with hiring new employees.  Then along came outsourcing and the world was literally a business owner’s oyster.  Today most businesses take advantage to outsource everything from HR and customer service to IT and editorial tasks, not to mention project-based outsourcing such as fiverr, UpWork and Frellancer.com to find capable freelancers to complete work on a project basis.

Love it or hate it, outsourcing is a resource that most small businesses could little afford to do without today. Even better, it allows business owners the flexibility of being able to generate occasional jobs for hire that add to the bottom line without threatening the business’ viability.

      5.      Business Sustainability  – Once you start a business you need to find a way to sustain and grow it.  Back in 1994 this meant the Small Business Administration.  While the SBA is still one resource that can be called upon to help fledgling businesses, it’s by no means the only one.  Today there are thousands of entities that are but a point and click away that offer everything from business coaching and business networking to online marketing and more. 

The bottom line is that no matter what stage of business you are currently engaged, when it comes to funding, starting, promoting, staffing, and sustaining a business, the Internet one terrific resource to help boost your business.

Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  

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