Sometime during the spring of 1995, you and I were given access to the Internet for the first time.
Since then, related innovations have produced a new marketplace where businesses of all sizes turn prospects into customers in a virtual, parallel universe. Here is a short list of the significant innovations:
· E-commerce – the ability to buy and sell online
· High-speed internet replaced dial-up
· Search engines indexing a gazillion online offerings
· Mobile computing from convergence of mobile networks and smartphones
· Social media transcending websites by connecting participants in online communities
After 10,000 years of the traditional marketplace, these innovations have at once produced unprecedented opportunity and disruption in less than 20 years. But here’s good news for small business: Part and parcel with the new capability is the incrementalization of virtual resources, which means they’re available in units and pricing that fit our focused (niche) applications and diminutive budgets.
We wanted to know how well small businesses are adopting the handy and affordable virtual marketplace tools, so in our online poll we asked: “How much of your sales can you attribute directly or indirectly to your online strategy?” Here’s what we learned:
Only 5% of our sample reported that 100% of their business resulted from an online strategy, while double that percentage said they did “more than half” of their business in the virtual marketplace. Just a few more, 12%, allowed that they got “about half” of their revenue from the Cloud, while our big group, 55%, said “less than half” of their business came from the Internet. And finally, almost one-in-five said the Internet produced “zero” business for them.
It’s good news that 81% of our respondents are experiencing some business from their online strategy. Twenty years after the telephone was introduced in 1877, I wonder how many businesses had adopted that proto killer app?
But another way to look at small business’s virtual marketplace adoption is that almost three-fourths of our folks still associate less than half of their business in any way to an online strategy. Sadly, that troubling news could foretell the unnecessary extinction of way too many small businesses.
After almost 20 years, customer expectations are increasingly evolving in the direction of more virtual interaction. Which way is your business trending?
Write this on a rock…Don’t act like a dinosaur – execute an online strategy.
Jim Blasingame is one of the world's leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate® Show. In addition to his weekly columns, Jim is the author of two books; Small Business is like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success.