Making Use Of The Web For Your Home-Based Business
The Web is an inviting medium for starting a business for many first-time business owners. This option has opened many doors and opportunities for the small entrepreneur. The lower overhead costs, the ability to reach a wide audience and the marketing potential of the Web are attractive. The idea of “earn even while sleeping,” is particularly inviting.
Generally, small and home-based businesses can use the Web in three different ways:
The Starting Point
While it is true that there are many benefits to conducting a small business online, the fact is, it takes more than a web presence to earn on the Internet. The normal rules of running a business offline also apply to running a business on the Web.
You need to create compelling reasons for customers to patronize your business and buy your products or services. You need to possess good customer service, listen to what your customers want and work twice as hard as your offline counterparts to interest and hold your customers. Surfers and shoppers on the Web seem to have shorter attention spans and can easily move from one site to the next. How to keep them in your site is something you need to work at.
Take for example the Nestlé site. It not only has information on the company and its products but also gives the viewers additional information they can use such as nutrition tips, information on childcare, pet care and even recipes! These additional features keep bringing viewers back to the site and will give you an idea of what you could incorporate within your site to increase its ‘stickiness’ or attractiveness.
A local example would be a site on garden fertilizers. With additional information like the gardening tips provided, viewers are tempted to explore the site. Therefore, home business owners with specialized products can similarly leverage on their own area of specialization by giving viewers extra benefits on the site, be it information or advice.
Many small and home-based businesses operating in the real world find that they need to jump into the Web bandwagon to stay competitive.
While your offline business may be operating successfully, you can use the Web to increase your revenue stream and attract new clientele for your business. You can use your site as a showcase for your products and your offline stores. In addition, you can create provide additional services such as an educational forum or an advice column for your existing and potential customers. Here again Garden Fertilisers gives you an idea of how this can be done.
However, it is important to point out that it takes more to successfully expand a business on the Web than merely putting your catalog or brochure online. Small and home-based businesses need to change their mindset to learn how Internet buyers shop and what they expect from online retailers. A more personalized customer service is one of the common strengths of the smaller businesses. For example, the online grocery vendor at Subang (http://subanggrocer.com) also incorporates online ordering, online payments and even home delivery services. They are now trying to incorporate other online facilities such as laundry services with pick up and delivery services included.
Small and home-based businesses may not necessarily use the Internet to sell. You may simply want a Web presence to support your existing operations. Your site can be designed to provide an overview of your business or service, serve as a contact point for existing and potential customers, and be a vehicle for reaching new markets.
You can continue to do the bulk of your business offline, but still use the many benefits a Web presence can create for your business. You can use your site to inform clients of new products, provide greater product or service explanations, and provide a forum to interact with them. The site becomes an extension of your customer service strategy, offering an easy access to customers.
You can also use your Web site as an interactive marketing brochure (without the costly reprinting charges of a printed brochure). Whether your clientele are local or global, the Web provides an excellent place for telling potential customers everything they need to know about your business. Many small and home-based businesses are finding out that the Web can be a great venue for showing samples of your products, price listings, and even to display customer testimonials, with the hope of winning more customers.
A good local example showcasing these features would be the site, flowerdrum bags and accessories, the site of a home-based business specializing in custom-made bags. The site is used to showcase products and to inform potential customers about its services, providing contact details. The bulk of the activities for this business is still done offline.