Where would we be without the internet?
As we discussed in this article, it makes our life easier in so many ways. We can do our grocery shopping online without having to trail out to the supermarket. We can take college degree courses without having to set foot beyond the gates of academia. And rather than trying to convince our friends and family about our culinary skills on the other end of a telephone, we can prove our talents by posting a picture of our efforts on Facebook!
The internet is a lifesaver indeed, and this is something many a business owner will understand. As our title suggested, it could, in fact, become their best (virtual) friend as they strive to succeed in the business world. On the other hand, as our title also suggested, it could also become their worst enemy, but we will get to that in a moment.
Developing an online presence is easy. There are loads of easy-to-use website builders available online, so within a day, a business owner will have a virtual window to showcase their business, whether their business is entirely online focussed or not. The business owner can then expand their online presence by linking the website to their social media accounts, meaning news of their business can quickly spread into the internet stratosphere.
Difficult tasks can be dealt with quickly and cheaply. Before the internet, a business owner had two choices when it came to dealing with some of the more difficult aspects of their business day. They either suffered the expense of hiring others to take on these tasks, or they struggled on with these arduous duties themselves. Thank goodness for the internet then, with the vast range of free software tools available to make light (and cheap) work of anything the business owner might struggle with. Especially when coping with a small budget, these downloadable utilities could be considered a godsend.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost the earth. We have already mentioned social media, which when used correctly, can be used to market a business to the masses. But there’s more online for the frugal business owner. With a free online logo maker, they can quickly create a branded image that can be used on their marketing materials. With free business listing services, such as Google Places and Yahoo Local, it’s easy to advertise their business online. And when it comes to press releases, the use of services such as 24-7 pressrelease is an affordable way to spread the word to journalists and consumers.
We aren’t going to dwell on the negatives because to be honest, the pros of the internet far outweigh the cons for the business owner. However, it could quickly become their worst enemy if they…
Incur the wrath of their customers. Social media and business review sites are great when their customers are happy with the products and services they have been offered. They are less than wonderful when the customer is unhappy, because rather than in those pre-internet days when such things didn’t exist, a business owner can quickly lose his reputation because of them.
Don’t stand out from their competitors. Thanks to the internet, it’s relatively easy to start a new business, especially in the area of eCommerce which is based purely online. Hoorah! However, because of the relative simplicity, anybody can start a business these days. This is bad news because online business owners will find it difficult to make their mark because the marketplace is saturated with up and coming entrepreneurs; we are talking thousands more than they used to be pre-internet days! If they don’t find ways to stand out, they might well lose profits and face failure.
The internet then. The business owner’s best friend? Or is it their worst enemy? It’s both, as you will probably understand if you are running a business already. But if you have related to what we have said, be sure to focus on both the positives and the negatives. The internet could elevate your business into the stratosphere of your industry, or it could bring it crashing down to earth with an unceremonious bump!