Do you run your own business? Running your own business may be preferable to having a boss and doing what you are told. However, could things be even better and how can you streamline your current business using digital technology?
Much of how you operate a business comes down to your own knowledge. For years I wanted my own business and when I got there I realized that things were not as peachy as I thought they would be. For starters you have to keep turning up regardless of how many customers turn up! You need to keep paying your rent to have a place to run. As I run a physical business and a digital business I thought I would be well placed to write this article, and although both are works in progress, I still lean towards the business model of a digital business for the following reasons:
1. A digital business can be scaled up far more easily than a physical business. Scaling up a physical business is a far greater problem than doing so online with already (largely) automated systems. A physical business requires people to be present and increasing staff and usually paying more in wages. There is a physical limit to how many people can fit into a building, or are available within your geographical location. And, there is a limit to how many people can get through the physical ’till’ and any one time. Compare this with a physical online business which can serve thousands of people at once worldwide through automated processes.
2. A digital business can be run from anywhere. With a bricks and mortar type of business you have to turn up to the same business premises time and time again. If you want to get away you need to cover your business hours which means getting someone to run the show for you. An internet based digital business is much more flexible and can be worked around other business commitments, family, holidays and trips away much more easily. You can work from a laptop anywhere in the world providing you have an internet connection.
3. You don’t need to hire in staff with an internet business. As a physical business grows you need to expand areas such as staffing and this requires paying people and training them. With an online business you don’t need staff as you can run adverts and websites on virtual autopilot. If you need to (or don’t want to do the work yourself) you can access freelancers via online databases and websites such as Fiver.com, Odesk.com and Elance.com.
4. The start up cost of an internet business is much lower than a physical business. Owning your own business in the virtual world is pretty easy. There are far fewer start up costs for an internet business than there are for a physical one. With a physical ‘franchise’ business there are huge start up costs before you even have any customers. Even for a business which is based on your own skills and expertise, there is a huge investment of time and energy in developing yourself and then in developing your business itself.
5. Anyone can learn how to build an online business. Many people see a physical business as beyond their expertise and although anyone with the drive and desire can build a business, an online business is much easier and within the grasp of anyone who has the drive and commitment to make it a success. With an online business you can learn a few new skills but much of the processes have become easier within the last few years due to advancements in technology. For example, it is now fairly easy to build a website and anyone can use a program to ‘drag and drop’ (from a user-friendly platform) to create their own website. Only a few years ago this was in the realm of the specialist who would build a website in code from scratch. This is no longer necessary and many other online tools have become similarly less technical.
6. A digital business has a built in ‘Freedom Factor’. Building a business takes time and energy and, assuming it is successful will tie you into working in that business. Even if you put someone else in charge, you still need to supervise and run it for it to run efficiently and effectively. As it grows so do your responsibilities to it! With an internet business you are building something which has more freedom intertwined into its routes. Having your own business should set you free! You no longer have a boss and you can choose how to run it! However, to make a success of any business you must put in the hours, weeks, months and years to make it the success which should pay for your lifestyle. Once you have achieved a certain amount of success from your business you may want more time away from it! With a normal business this may present problems. With an internet business you can travel and plan your life around it. Most digital systems will operate while you are ‘away’ and your business will still run 24/7 and 365 days of the year, even when you are sitting on a beach. A digital business is a portable business.
7. There’s no need to talk to customers or ‘persuade’ people. I used to run a magazine business franchise which required selling through a magazine door to door. I would struggle with having to deal with the negative reactions which was inevitable eventually when going door to door. With an internet business there is no need for this and you can choose your own level of involvement when it comes to promoting products online. You can choose products and services with a built in sales team. (More on this later). What this means is that you can simply work in a way which suits you. There is no need for hard selling, cold calling or and kind of dealing with customers with an online business.
8. You can make money while on holiday or even asleep with an online business. This is definitely something which doesn’t happen with a physical business unless royalties are involved or recurring payments. There is nothing quite like making a sale from the work you have already done previously and being notified by email. Having a sale go through on complete autopilot is quite a kick! In a physical business to make money you nearly always have to ‘turn up’ and even if you have customers paying monthly payments it would soon stop if you didn’t turn up to work.
9. Owning a physical business is expensive. Running a shop or premises is expensive before you think about hiring staff. You need to pay for your premises, stock, employees (if you have any) and then there’s your advertising costs. That’s before you have sold anything. Running costs are much lower with an internet business. All you really need is a website and some advertising. Websites can be bought fairly cheaply and you can work your advertising around a suitable budget for you. You have no expensive rent, employees or stock to manage. Your main cost will be on your development and ongoing training which is still much cheaper than running a physical business in most cases.
10. The stats don’t lie! Online shopping is not going away and more people are now purchasing goods and services from their front rooms that ever before. This trend is not only for online physical goods including items such as food and wine but also for online services, training and member websites. Knowing the growing trend in technological growth, online spending and automation, can you say your physical business will still thrive in years to come without expanding into the online world?
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