Whilst I develop my own business and my clients' businesses online, I often support and observe local small businesses to see how the Internet could potentially impact them.
Having been a foreigner for many years, I often get asked by people in the different countries I live in how I earn an income there (especially when even local people have a hard time finding a job, and they speak the lingo!)
I explain about my virtual business - it's often not a concept they really grasp, so then I explain a little more about how I support business owners online, and when I do that I introduce them to possibilities, which usually brings up a lot of very limiting beliefs surrounding the Internet and there's a common thread between certain specific ones, so I'm here to bust them.
#1 - It won't work in my local business
The most common block for local business owners is that they only see themselves being able to generate business from a certain mile/kilometer radius, so they think that it's pointless getting onto the Web. Let's say you're living in an area with 100,000 people in the radius of your small business, they would need to be told about your shop, or go past your shop, in order to know it was there. I bet a significant number of those people are on the Internet, whether it be tablet, desktop, laptop, phone or other device, and often they'll look online to find what they want. So let's say I'm seeking out Organic Cous Cous for a Moroccon Tagine I'm making, I'll go online, Google, Facebook whatever and see if I can find a store locally that sells it. The store that has the online presence will likely get my business as I hop in the car and make my way there.
#2 - I don't have the cash, and the bank won't loan
A lot of folk won't embrace the digital landscape because they don't have the cash to invest into creating an online presence. It actually doesn't cost that much to get yourself online, even in some small way, but, unless you can find your way around a computer, an investment of some sort may be required. Often times people can't get loans, but the Internet provides alternatives, look at Kabbage.com an online loan provider. Not many people realise that there are options beyond the local bank!
#3 - I don't have the time to learn all thatMost of the time, people might entertain the idea, but never follow through because the online world is so alien to them, plus not many people have an interest in starting the learning curve. This is where Virtual Assistants can come in. Finding a great VA to get behind you and support you with creating an online presence is a fantastic resource to have. If the small business owner is completely new to the concept of going online, start small, and build gradually, maybe first with a boutique website, and a Facebook page, then other social accounts can be introduced, such as Google +, Twitter and Pinterest as the online aspect of the business grows.
Local small businesses can benefit immensely from an online presence, and not even realise the potential it has to offer. The only way to find out, is to try it :-)
I'd love to know if you think that local businesses can benefit from an online presence? Comments below please!