How does an entrepreneur and small business owner on Main Street adapt to a new world economy bought together by the wireless web, with intelligent cell phones, and billions of customers from the developing countries as well as those just around the corner? This article will reveal a blueprint that shows entrepreneurs and small business owners on Main Street how to use Internet techniques and tools to market and sell anything, to anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world.
A little over a decade ago, I was a Partner with Deloitte, a Big 4 Accounting and Consulting firm, and was based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I approved with companies that were building and using the Internet; These included network equipment manufacturers, developers of application software for networks, and bandwidth and service providers. We developed web-mail, VoIP, web-based video conferencing, and many more innovative consumer and business products.
At the turn of the century in 2000, I was recruited from Deloitte for a VP role with a B2B eCommerce software startup company in Silicon Valley. At Tradeum, later acquired by VerticalNet, we focused on developing and operating B2B eCommerce sites for businesses in over 50 different vertical market sectors and sub-sectors; what eBay was doing for the retail and consumer sector, we at Tradeum, later a part of VerticalNet, did for the industrial sector. We were transforming corporate purchasing by creating killer applications in the Business-to-Business Internet revolution. We felt like pioneers, trail blazing across the commercial landscape as Internet Marketing, and making money online, was in its infancy.
Now, a few years, a few burst bubbles (such as the tech industry, the housing industry, and the investment banking industry), and a Global Financial Crisis later, our economy is beginning an upward climb and redefining the world of business. Major obstacles for entrepreneurs and small business still exist. Taxes are out of control; credit still remains tight; healthcare is expensive; and things seem downright gloomy. Yet, our entrepreneurial and small business economy has its roots in just this type of post-recession reality.
A movement is slowly building in the business world and we are seeing the beginning of a new entrepreneurial economy built on nimble, low-overhead, small businesses with fluid workforces that have upheld the economy for decades. However, something larger is at hand. By choice, or necessity, more people are pursuing self-employment as an alternative to an uncertain corporate existence. And, across the country, enrollment in entrepreneurship programs at universities is booming.
As technology continues with advances like cloud computing, a recent book from Michael Malone titled The Future Arrived Yesterday, Malone heralded the arrival of a truly entrepreneurial society. You no longer have to have a large physical plant to start a company. The cost of entry is getting close to zero. Now the little guys can build a business without the overhead. Inventory, customer management, accounting, shipping, corporate communications, and even human resources can be outsourced to the digital ether as a cluster of web based services and applications sweep away the need for large office spaces and a large pool of employees. The best strategy is to get small and adaptable, strip things to a solid core, and hire from the cloud of talent that is out there. When you encounter a potential market, pursue it relentlessly, and as you get a transaction, expand like a puffer fish.
It may take a while however to learn to use various Internet marketing and promotion methods and tools. Setup and follow a traffic formula to build relationships with leads and customers. Build websites that create trust. Collect name and email addresses using an Optin form on a Landing Page. Use email systems with both auto-responders and broadcast capabilities in order to send messages to your leads and customers. In these email messages, send information, provide knowledge, and often promote an offering. Understand that leads and customers do not like to be sold to however they will browse and shop.
By using the Internet to market your products and drive sales, you will be using the key tactics you need to succeed in the new economy. It is clear the next Industrial Revolution is upon us and it is indeed happening online. The Internet is the new global stage for the modern symphony of commerce. Those that learn how to leverage this most powerful of platforms will be its conductors; and they will make music, and money, at the same time.