Small Businesses Are Going Digital And Thriving
There are some who feel intimidated by the march of digital technology, particularly given its new wave of massive corporate dominance. Google has a stranglehold on search, Amazon on e-commerce, and Apple on consumer electronics. These companies thrive on absorbing rivals, and governments often seem unwilling or unable to do anything to slow their progress.
But the beauty of the digital sphere is that it provides a more equitable distribution of opportunity. Where a small business of decades past might lack the resources to build up any significant momentum, an equivalent business today can use the internet to achieve meaningful progress both quickly and cost-effectively — and the possibilities keep expanding.
We’re seeing this today with the rise in businesses optimized for the web — it’s even possible to establish a thriving business that has no conventional physical location. America is said to be the land of opportunity, so it’s no great surprise that it’s an incredible hub for startups. Let’s take a closer look at why the move to digital-centric operations is proving so powerful.
It expands the reach and power of marketing
Even the most impressive business will get nowhere if it’s unable to reach its target audience. Before the digital revolution, marketing options were essentially limited to print and media ads, sponsored partnerships, and occasional marketing stunts. Furthermore, research methods were basic, using focus groups and surveys that often raised more questions than they answered.
Today, the internet has changed everything about marketing, providing transformational for variety, accessibility, and customization. There are social media platforms, forums, messaging applications, websites of all kinds, downloadable apps, and countless email inboxes to be approached — and each step along the way can be rigorously tracked to produce actionable analytics data that far exceeds the vague self-reported survey data of antiquity.
Just think how easy it has become for a small business with big ambitions to make a name for itself through social media. Viral marketing allows even the smallest of budgets to achieve levels of ROI never before possible. Instead of relying on payments to stations, businesses can establish their own channels through YouTube and podcasting networks, advertising their brands and earning ad revenue from other brands in the process.
It isn’t easy to reach that level of success, of course, but it is certainly easier than ever before to make a niche business model sustainable. If there’s a market out there for a product, you can find it online in a matter of hours, and build a connection effortlessly — given the sheer size of America, this kind of connectivity used to be unfathomable.
It bolsters productivity and flexibility
One of the many things furthered by the advent of worldwide digital communities is the awareness that old-fashioned working models (such as the classic 9-to-5 grind) are far from optimal. Sitting in an office for 8 hours every day is one way to approach things, but different people can be just as productive in different settings and circumstances.
Someone who isn’t a morning person might reach peak productivity at 9pm, for instance, and this is something that digital business models can accommodate. With access to laptops, smartphones, video conferencing tools, cloud computing, and 24/7 mobile data connections, a weekly workload can be distributed much more rationally.
Giving your employees the flexibility to work the hours they prefer (from any location) makes team members happier, which tends to make them more valuable to their companies. In addition, the more flexible a business model becomes, the quicker that business can adapt to changing circumstances — something that’s vital in a time of such great technological innovation.
It can drastically reduce overheads
In years gone by, establishing even a basic office setup would incur numerous costs. You’d need to pay rent for office space, purchase equipment, invest in security measures, and hire full-time employees (if only to fully justify the office expenditure). Those costs might not sound like much, but they could easily be enough to leave many startups struggling to get off the ground.
Using digital technology, though, many of these costs are greatly reduced (or even avoided entirely). There are still monthly rental fees to be paid, but those fees will come in the form of hosting platforms and/or SaaS services instead of premises. If needed, employees can use their personal computers to get their work done (instead of using expensive dedicated workstations). Additionally, physical security isn’t an issue when everything is kept on a server that’s already secured for you.
It’s also become much easier to start a business in the first place. Since a business can essentially be a website, you can simply pay for a domain you like and use a site builder to get up and running within a day. You can even buy an existing store (at surprisingly low cost) and run it as it is or rework it as you like: find one registered in your preferred state (if you want to operate in Utah, check business listings near Utah) and you won’t need to configure sales tax.
And that’s all without factoring in the benefits of automation. Almost any rote part of a digital operation can be automated to save time and money. Services such as IFTTT integrate with innumerable apps and platforms, making it possible to easily create routines that free up time to be spent on more creative (and growth-inducing) parts of the business.
The move of standard business operations to the online world is a net positive for anyone who wants to compete in a level playing field. It allows entrepreneurs to find and reach out to huge pools of prospective customers, makes the professional life easier and less stressful, and saves a huge amount of money. If you’re not steadily moving elements of your business into the cloud, it’s time to start giving it some serious consideration.