There’s is one important detail that a lot of people miss when they choose to run their business online. It still operates in the real world and that, my friends, was the sound of your minds being simultaneously blown. All joking aside there is an important lesson to be learned here. The idea of a purely online business goes hand in hand with the concept of a company that’s easy to run. Any seasoned online business owner will tell you that while they might enjoy it, running an online company isn’t simple. There are challenges and issues to overcome.
One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that the online and real world mesh rather than collide. If they collide, you are left with a mess, trying to pick up the pieces of your broken business. If you simply ignore the real aspect of your business, you’ll face the same type of issue. You can’t run an online business without taking into account some real world issues. What exactly am I talking about? Off the top of my head, you need to think about marketing, business partnerships, deliveries and sales. You see what I mean? None of those parts of your companies can occur entirely online. If they do, you’ll minimize the potential of your business and miss out key details. Let’s examine why the real world is important, even for an online business.
Your Consumers Exist In The Real World
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if your online customers were little pieces of code? If you never meet and interact with them, it’s easy to forget that the people that you’re selling to online are real. Since they operate in the physical world, they do have concerns. As an online business owner, you might think once they buy your product, your job is over. On the contrary, this isn’t the case at all because you need to think about what happens next. What are you hoping for when you sell to a business online? You’re hoping for a repeat sale. You want the customer to come back and buy from you again. They won’t do this if they are not happy with the product that you have delivered to them.
Let’s home in on that issue of deliveries. As an online business owner, you probably don’t think too much about it at all. Indeed, you might have even arranged an outsourcing company like Red Stag Fulfillment to complete the job for you. That’s totally understandable. For a small online company, delivery charges can be an unnecessary expense. But you have to remember that the service and quality behind your deliveries still matter. Even if you are not the one providing them. The service offered by that outsourcing company is going to reflect positively or negatively on your business. You might think the outsourcing company will take the brunt of it, but they won’t. In the eyes of the consumer, it’s your service.
Here’s where things get really interesting. The damage of that poor quality delivery floods back to your business through online sources. Customers might post an unhappy tweet, or they may give your business a bad review online. Suddenly, your performance in the real world is hitting your online reputation hard. Bad news will spread like wildfire through the social networks, and you won’t be able to stop it. That’s why you need to be aware of the issues customers can have in the real world before they present themselves.
Since your customers do exist in the real world, you need to as well. You can’t hide behind your keyboard as the owner of your company, no matter how small your business might be. You have to show customers the people behind your business. The days have past where customers would buy from a faceless business. More often than not now, they want to know who’s running it. They want to make sure it’s a person that they can trust. Let’s move on and think about the product that you’re selling.
Is Your Product Real?
There are certain online companies where the product doesn’t exist in the real world. It is purely a digital good or service, but these are rare. One example would be a web design. If you’re running a web design business, you are offering businesses a digital product. You still have to make sure that the product is of high quality. But typically, you’ll be in charge of the design so you can guarantee this. What about when you’re not in charge of production? Perhaps, in your online business, you are simply taking care of sales. The product in question was designed by someone else entirely. How could this affect your company model?
Again, you will have to be very careful that quality levels are kept high. You don’t want to be in the position where you’re found to be selling, cheap poorly made products. If you’ve guessed I’m referring to outsourcing again, you’d be right. You have to be careful when choosing a product partner. Make sure that they can provide you with a quality product that your customers want. If they can’t, you shouldn’t be buying from them no matter what the price. Even if you are selling something online, you should make sure you know where it’s coming from. You want to know as much as possible about how it’s made and produced. This will help you answer the concerns that your customers might have.
The same is true if you are selling a product that you bought pre-made online. For instance, you might be running a wholesale clothing shop which could be a fantastic business venture. If you know how to market your items, you could make a fortune doing this. But again, you need to be careful about the supplier. Ensure that they are people who you can trust to deliver a product you want to sell. You don’t want to be known for the seller of poor products. Unless the price you’re selling at matches the quality of the product. If the price matches, customers will forgive you, and this is the only exception.
Face To Face Isn’t Overrated
Complete a quick search online, and you’ll find a business partner who would be willing to make a deal with you. Better yet, they won’t even want to meet. They will, most likely, agree to complete the sale on the phone or even by email. A lot of ecommerce companies complete business like this. The question I want to present is whether or not this is a good idea. Essentially, you’re forming a partnership with someone you’ve never met. It’s like going home drunk with someone from a party. Sure, they look great right now, but you might wake up the next morning and find yourself with a goat, literally. That’s the best simile I can give you for how wrong first impressions of a business deal can be. Always make sure you know who you’re getting into bed with. If I were you, I would try to meet anyone who is going to be significant to my business model in person. This includes hiring freelancers. You might think that it doesn’t matter what they’re like because customers and clients are never going to meet them. But employees who will never meet customers still have to go through interviews. It’s about assessing who that person is. A quick interview can tell you a lot about a person’s work ethic and how reliable they could be for your business. At the very least, you should speak to anyone you’re working with on the phone.
Maintain Your Social Etiquette
Finally, businesses that operate online are often run from home which might not be a fantastic idea for one key reason. If you’re running a business from home, particularly as a solopreneur, you’re not going to be interacting with people. Slowly but surely, you’ll lose the knowledge of how business operates in the real world. Now, you might think this is fine because your business isn’t in the real world. But as I’ve already pointed out, it very much is. There will be times when you have to interact as a business man or woman.
You see, while traders might be willing to make deals online, investors won’t. Investors will want to meet you before pouring capital into your company. Or what about a trade show? At a trade exhibition, you’ll have to be able to sell who you are as much as what your business is. If you’ve been working from home for too long, you will have forgotten how to do this. That’s why you should always run your business as exactly that, a place of work. Even if you are the only full-time worker in your company, you need to keep high standards on the job. Otherwise, when it is time to socially interact in the business world, you won’t be able to.
I’ve hope I’ve shown you that no online business is exempt from the challenges and issues of the real world.