So you’ve decided to start an online business. Doing this allows you all sorts of freedom that you don’t get in many jobs. When you start a business online, you’re your own boss, meaning you get to make the big decisions that dictate how you do business. You get to decide what your logo looks like, the types of customers you want to take on, and where you do business.
One of the most important things to think about is how you’ll connect with customers. Some endeavors just make sense for the digital space. For instance, if you’re selling fashionable knit caps or hand-crafted wedding invitations, it may be easy to simply sell those things through a website or online store. Same if you’re starting a graphic design company. However, it’s completely possible that these business ideas and others can become more engaging in actual, physical spaces. It’s all about what works for your concept and your budget.
Running Your Business Online
Let’s say you’re running a small catering company. Chances are you’re usually serving your food at events like a weddings and graduation parties, meaning there’s probably not a need to work in an owned space like a restaurant or public kitchen. In addition, you may be able to prepare your food in your own home kitchen, meaning you don’t have to rent out a larger space. While there are benefits (which we’ll get to in a minute), there are many reasons why conducting business online makes the most sense.
In this situation, working from your home allows you to save money and be more efficient. If you open a space, you have to worry about rent, utilities, insurance, staff, and decor. All of these things will reduce your bottom line. And remember, online shopping is massively popular and allows you to draw people in no matter what time it is or where they’re located.
Running your business online allows your to have a more varied inventory. Let’s say you make beautiful custom knit clothing items out of organic wool. If all you can afford is a small storefront, you may not be able to best show off all you have to offer. Establishing an online presence allows you to forego the restrictions of storefront space and display everything you off to hover. In addition, when you work around these costs, you have the added benefit of passing along that savings to your customers, which in turns helps you attract new business.
And remember that even if you mostly operate online, you can set up shop at temporary spaces where you can share you work. For instance, if you’re a caterer you may want to set up shop at a food festival or farmer’s’ market and offer tastes of your specialities.
Establishing a Brick & Mortar Presence
Yes, there are many great things about establishing a business online. And there are an infinite number of good things about being able to connect with a business or make purchases online — just ask anyone who has bought a pair of shoes online at 2 a.m. That being said, there are benefits to establishing a brick and mortar location.
There’s no getting around the fact that renting out a space and caring for it costs money. That being said, having a storefront where people can stop by and physically experience what you have to offer can be hugely helpful. A good location in particular can earn you foot traffic and the kinds of visitors you can’t get simply by being online. And if you have a physical space, you’re able to build your brand a bit more, through everything from decor and tone to holding events and functions that can bring together a community of likeminded individuals.
In the end, it’s all about what works for you. An online presence will almost always be less expensive, but there are certain benefits to having a brick and mortar location that may be appealing, as long as you have the funds to put into it. You may also consider setting up a pop up shop for your predominantly online business, to get the best of both worlds on a tighter budget.