First, we had words. Language. We spoke.
And we forgot.
And so we made tools, and carved our words indelibly into the rock around us.
We wanted to remember.
But rocks are hard to carry.
And so, we invented paper. And that was good enough for all of mankind for a good, llooonng time.
Until one day, Johan Gutenberg decided he’d had enough of all the carpal tunel, and he gave us the printing press. This revolution changed the world in every conceiveable way, allowing us to share ideas – to learn and grow – at unprecedented rates.
One might argue that radio and television advanced our cause. And so they did. But the internet is the latest – and biggest – revolution in human communication. The vastness of all the human knowledge that our race has been able to store up since those early rock cavings, tens of thousands of years, is all gathered together for us. Easy to access. Easy to use.
The potential the web offers to businesses is, truly, infinite. But this staggering range of options and opportunities can overwhelm us into a state of stress paralysis in which we do nothing. Nothing at all.
We want to use the web. But how?
With the advent of the internet, it’s becoming easier than ever to start a business. And a digital business has almost none of the constraints that a more “traditional” business used to face:
No physical location needed – you don’t need a shop. Or a warehouse. Or even a physical address. You don’t even need a postal address. Your entire business can exist in the cloud while you live wherever you feel most comfortable this week. All people need is to be able to find you … and some good ol’ SEO can take care of that.
No staff problems – the web lets you automate a lot of things that, previously, you’d have need a whole person to do for you. And you can now outsource amazing, affordable talent … from just aboout anywhere in the world. The beauty of this is that, once the job is done, the contract is over. You don’t have to find ways to keep that staffer busy, because they’re off finding their own thing to do.
No transport issues – since you don’t need to leave your house (or even your bedroom!) to work online, you don’t have to worry about fuel costs, where and tear on your vehicle, time on the road, or – worst of all – traffic. Even the goods you sell can be sourced online, and delivered by a courier you found online, without you ever having to lift more than the fingers you use to type the emails that organize it all.
Easy communication – and speaking of email, it is now easier than ever to communicate with anyone you need to speak to. You can email people. You can IM people. You can call people on a whole host of VoIP solutions, including the ever-popular Skype. You can host or attend meetings, training sessions, webinars, and even conferences online. And you can use social media to connect with pretty much anyone you’ve ever known.
Almost limitless opportunities for marketing – We used to stand outside our market stalls and shout our wares to passersby. Then we started putting up posters and handing out flyers … all of which we’d made by hand. It took millennia of human development before we could reach more than a few people at a time, telling them what we do. The major changes in the communication landscape – printing, radio, and television – all broadened our reach. But even then, we really only had three or four channels we could follow to reach people.
And they all cost a lot.
Now, we still have those channels. And so many more! We have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, to name but a few social channels. We have YouTube – the second biggest search engine in the world – which allows any of us to become a movie maker. We have email marketing and Google Ads and in-app advertizing and a whole lot more.
And most of these are free! (If you do them yourself, of course.)
So the question is: how are YOU using the web to grow your business? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.