Running a business can be a real challenge, and it sometimes seems like you have more to worry about every day. That’s certainly true in the area of technology, where new apps and innovations are constantly disrupting old ways of doing things and old ways of making a living.
While some businesses have more tech-related tasks and challenges to worry about than others, we’ve reached the point at which no business, no matter how seemingly divorced from high-tech wizardry, can afford to ignore the most revolutionary thing that technology has given us: the internet.
The internet has been around for a while now, of course, but it has grown enormously in importance — especially to small-business owners. While local mom-and-pop business owners could once get away with forgetting about the internet, modern business owners need to keep it in mind in all sorts of ways.
Here are a few aspects of the internet that you can’t afford to forget about.
1. Your business space needs to be connected
If you run an office, you almost certainly have a network set up with an internet connection. But other types of business owners may not be thinking enough about the connectivity of their workplace.
Take a retail space, for instance. You probably have a Wi-Fi network and computers set up for your business tasks, but what about your customers? If your customers can’t use their smartphones in your shop, then they’re not going to stay as long. You want customers to be able to relax and enjoy your space, you want them to be calling loved ones and asking about a purchase, or researching a potential purchase on their smartphone. You need your space to have great cell service.
What can you do if it doesn’t? You can make a smart investment in a wireless network signal booster. Customers on major mobile providers will be happier if you have a Verizon signal booster or similar device on the premises. They’ll be more connected, and you’ll do better business.
2. Search engine optimization is crucial
Search engine optimization is the process of making your business’s online presence as appealing as possible to the algorithms that determine the results for queries on search engines. In the past, this wasn’t a big deal for local mom-and-pop shops; people searching for things online were planning to buy things online, while local shoppers would head to Main Street or look in the phone book.
Not anymore, though. The exponential increase in smartphone ownership has led to a revolution in mobile internet use. These days, finding the local bakery or auto shop is something that most people do on their phones. And, for the most part, they use search engines like Google (or map-based search engines like Google Maps — and yes, the search feature of Google Maps is a type of search engine). That’s why search engine marketing is crucial for all sorts of businesses, not just the ones based online.
3. The internet is your competition
Modern businesses should use the internet to improve their advertising and their customers’ experiences. But the internet has a sinister side for local businesses: For virtually every kind of small business, there is a mobile app or a massive online retail competitor with all kinds of advantages.
Big businesses like Amazon can drive prices lower than small shops can afford to match, rideshare apps like Uber use questionable methods to outmanoeuvre car services, and many other online corporations are hounding their mom-and-pop competition in other ways.
That’s why small businesses should keep their online competition a priority. What can your business do that makes a local experience better for the customer than the online option? From loyalty programs to superior customer service, you should be thinking about how to beat the internet even as you think about how to use it.