I strongly believe in diversifying one’s business interests across both online and offline ventures. Many of you know that I am actively working on several other offline businesses in addition to my web development company and domain investing group.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of online business is the limitless marketing scalability. Instead of depending solely on local customers, you can reach anyone with an Internet connection. This, however, is also one of the downfalls – the face-to-face factor is removed from the transaction. Even though you can find the best deals on electronics online, many people prefer to drive to Best Buy and talk to a person before they make their purchase. In my case, even though I reach hundreds of people everyday through my company website, 95% of my clients are local.
Here’s another example: I have a dozen or so local clients who I occasionally do IT work for. The fact is that these are very simple jobs – setting up a network, installing a printer, etc. These people could easilly find the solutions to these problems by doing a little bit of Internet research. However, there is a human touch that you can not get from just doing Internet research, so these people prefer to hire me to come to their home or business and help them face-to-face. Even as more and more people use the Internet everyday to satisfy their needs and do business, there will always be those who prefer to work directly with people face-to-face for a majority of their business transactions.
Enter my first case study: The Scottsdale Review. This is going to be a hybrid online-offline business. We are putting together an online journal for the local residents of Scottsdale, Arizona which will feature information on nightlife, reviews of restaurants and shopping, interviews with local business owners, and news about Scottsdale’s booming economic and commercial development.
The great thing about The Scottsdale Review is that we will get the chance to extend our network locally, by meeting and interacting with our hired journalists, the residents, and local business owners. That is the offline benefit – our direct network of connections will increase significantly. Also, many of these business owners may need web sites and IT work, and guess what? We do that too.
Another benefit is that, in my experience, it is always more effective to close deals face-to-face, as opposed to through the Internet. We also plan on selling advertising to local businesses. It will be much easier to find businesses locally who want advertise, instead of just hunting them out online.
Of course, there is an online benefit, as well, and that is we are able to syndicate our content to everyone in the Phoenix-metropolitan area with little to no overhead costs. Not to mention, if anyone across the globe is interested in Scottsdale, they are also able to log on and check us out.
Once our business becomes profitable, we are looking to develop a print publication to compliment the online journal, as well. This is a few months down the road though, but should also provide for an interesting experience syndicating content the old-fashion way.
Over the next few months, I will keep you updated every step of the way about The Scottsdale Review. I think it will be a very interesting experience because we are working both on and offline, as well as networking with local residents and businesses, and syndicating our content to a large audience.
In conclusion, to anyone who is looking to start an online business to replace their physical job: don’t forget about your local community. There is a lot of power in face-to-face negotiation and can also provide for a great way to expand your network and increase your ties in the community.