How to Succeed Almost Entirely Offline in an Online World

I'm a big advocate of "buy local". I like to spend my money with small, local businesses. I shop the local farmer's market every Saturday, and when we go out to eat, it's usually at a locally owned restaurant, not a big chain.  I enjoy local businesses primarily because they are always different, and interesting. (Even out of the local, Mexican restaurants we frequent, we've never seen exactly the same decoration in any two.)

So what sort of businesses can you get into that won't be entirely killed by internet commerce? It seems like a strange topic coming from a company that does almost all of their business online, but we're here to help. That's what we do!

5  Business Types That Rely on Local Business

  1. Local, perishable and/or consumable products.
    Such products include, but are not limited to: beer, wine, food, sweets, baked goods, produce, farm eggs, etc.
     
  2. Hands-on, or fitted products.
    Such products include, but are not limited to: bicycles, clothing, hats, golf clubs, shoes, jewelry, etc.
     
  3. Services that provide opportunities for social interaction.
    Such businesses include, but are not limited to: event planning, business networking, singles events, festivals, carnivals, etc.
     
  4. Professional services that people must travel to or that must come to them.
    Such services include, but are not limited to: masseuse, barber, plumber, tattoo artist, dentist, doctor, clown, photographer, petsitter, electrician, lawyer, hospice, funeral home, carpenter, daycare, etc.
     
  5. Locations that create desirable atmospheres or unique experiences.
    Such locations include, but are not limited to: themed restaurants, cafes or bars, gardens, amusement parks, golf courses, dog parks, bicycle parks, floatation tank centers, haunted houses, campgrounds, etc.

Even these businesses should, at the very least, get listed on Google. (You can find out more from Google by clicking this link: Free Business Listing on Google.)

4 Online Services that Add Value for you Customers or Clients

  1. Website
    A basic, but professional-looking website can greatly boost consumer confidence in your product or service. (We're not website designers, so we use and highly recommend Squarespace.)
     
  2. Online Reservations or Appointments
    The convenience of being able to make appointments or reservations online appeals to many consumers and can be an added perk for potential customers. (Services like OpenTable.com are actually integrated into some Squarespace templates.)
     
  3. Additional Online Commerce
    Having simple (and often free) shops on websites like ebay or Etsy allows you to reach a larger and searching audience with your products. These services are particularly great for items that may not be of particular interest locally, but are sought after nationally or internationally.
     
  4. Online Portfolio or Menu
    A professional-looking, online portfolio or menu showcasing your photography services, nail designs, tattoos, haircuts, drinks or food is great for helping clients decide on weather or not they want to hire you or dine in your establishment. (Restaurants should add descriptions or list ingredients for those with special diets and/or food allergies.)

Lastly, we suggest social media. We prefer twitter, but, if you run a local business, we highly recommend Facebook above all others. Facebook is the number one social media website, with over 1.23 billion active users* in the last quarter of this year alone! (Keep in mind that you will have to maintain your Facebook page with updates, and do damage control, if and when necessary.)

DO NOT LIST YOUR BUSINESS FOR REVIEW!

We strongly recommend NOT creating listings on Yelp! or Angie's List (unless you are a member of Angie's List and your target customers are likely to be members too).

The internet is a vast and beautiful place, but when it comes to reviewing businesses you can end up in a world of hurt. If your business is small, you probably don't have the time or resources to dedicate to damage control, and websites like Yelp! and Angie's List will NOT allow you to remove negative or even bogus reviews and comments.

So, when that one disgruntled customer (who ripped you off or that no business could ever be good enough for), decides to cast a dark shadow on your business, keep in mind that there will be NOTHING you can do about it. Not only that, there are people (possibly businesses) out there who will write up bogus, horrible reviews and then try to blackmail you to remove them.

The whole review thing is just a huge mess, and we don't recommend getting involved with it all unless you have the time, resources or a good attorney!