Alliances Key To Growth In New Economy By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.
As small business owners, we share a common challenge: We need to generate awareness on shoestring budgets of time, resources and money. And many of us wonder if the Internet is the key to growing our bottom line.
When the Internet age arrived, the early adopters among us hoped that an online presence would translate into big business for our companies. Optimistic and enthusiastic, we built web sites and registered with the top search engines.
But quickly we learned that the Internet doesn’t level the playing field for small businesses as much as the pundits preached. Then the experts confirmed our worst fears. Their answer for building awareness took on a painfully familiar sound: "You need to spend money to make money."
They said we should invest in expensive banner ads and space on popular web sites; create a direct-mail, print, radio or television campaign in conjunction with our online presence; and stick "dot-com" at the end of our company’s name in the hope that a venture capitalist would discover our firm and help us eventually cash in with IPO gold.
Personally, that advice left me feeling that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But before the Internet dream fades away, let me suggest reasons to stay optimistic.
The Internet is entering a new phase of development in the new economy. Pure Internet companies have learned that customers want traditional, offline services just as much as they want the convenience of the Internet. There’s a name for this trend of combining online and offline business. It’s called "bricks and clicks."
To gain more visibility for our small businesses through the Internet, we should build on our traditional strengths as well as those we are gaining in the new economy.
The small business has always thrived by being nimble, personal and responsive. Remember the strategies that work, particularly networking and referrals. Your good work speaks for itself.
Through the new economy, access to information, suppliers and buyers is changing radically. Small businesses have a few advantages:
- What you know is valuable. Small businesses can provide bite-sized information on the Internet to showcase their knowledge and skills.
- The Internet allows you to have essential personal conversations with prospects, referral sources and networking groups. These conversations are highly worthwhile.
- Larger companies are growing more dependent on smaller companies to meet their needs. The Internet provides access to services that big companies formerly managed internally.
If one of your key business needs is building awareness, develop Internet alliances. Alliances build on your traditional strengths while leveraging the new economy.
There are four key areas for building alliances. Each offers you opportunities to be heard by a larger audience. Make sure to explore your role in offering the following:
- Content. What information of value does your business have that prospects, referral sources and networkers need? Consider hosting articles, newsletters and training on your site to offer additional value.
- Technology. Work with firms that enhance your knowledge and wisdom through their technology. For example, I work with www.fancemail.com to deliver my newsletter in a user-friendly manner.
- Awareness. Get listed and quoted on every relevant web site in your customers industries. E-commerce. Join every electronic business exchange you can find. Many are in their infancy, and most are free.
Building relationships is an essential ingredient in growing your business online and offline. The only barrier to a small company’s participation in the new economy is lack of confidence in trying new approaches. Let’s all learn to do this by building new alliances, experiences and knowledge in the new economy.
Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:
© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080 , by email at email@example.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.