8 Ways Your Online Business Differs From an Offline BusinessPosted: January 19, 2012
Looking to start your own business online? It’s hard to know what to expect if it’s your first one. Not only would you face the difference of being an entrepreneur vs. working for someone else, but you may also face the difference of online business vs. offline.
How exactly does online business differ from offline business?
1. Your business never sleeps
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been up at 3 or 4 AM here in San Diego doing business with someone in Europe or Asia. Even though most business does tend to happen in western world business hours, there are many times when we get contacted at odd hours of the night from other parts of the world.
2. Hosting or script issue? Down goes your business!
With a brick and mortar business, the only way you’re going down is if there’s a natural disaster or some other freak occurrence. With an online business, your site could go down any time with no warning. As much as I love WordPress, I once discovered one of my sites was down due to WordPress trying to rewrite a file without having permission to – some weird unexpected issue.
Thankfully you can get monitoring services that alert you when your site goes down. Also, it’s not AS big of a deal if it goes down at off-peak hours or on weekends.
3. Your business (or its issues) can go viral
Sure, this can happen with offline businesses online as well, but given online businesses deal with their customers and do most of their marketing online, virality is more likely. Keep in mind there’s good viral/word of mouth, and then bad. A single issue can get blown up in a huge way if you’re not careful.
4. Easier to get scammed
Let’s face it – even when they give their information, you have no idea who your customers are. They could be anyone and giving false information and you wouldn’t know. Likewise unfortunately, it’s easier to face compromised payment accounts or other methods of scamming you out of your product/service. At least with an offline business, you’d probably have had face-to-face or at least phone contact with your customer.
5. Less transparency
It goes both ways – your customers may have no idea who they’re dealing with. Sure, you might have an About page and whatnot, but you might also have outsourced support staff. You might be doing business out of your home in your boxers all day and your customers would have no idea.
6. Potentially infinite inventory
This can also be the case with offline businesses dealing in software or other digital goods, but this is more often the case with online businesses. If you’re selling something digital, then you can sell as much of it as your bandwidth allows. Obviously selling domains is a different story, but look at domain registrars for instance – they could register out nearly infinite domains.
7. Build Rome in a day
That may be exaggerating, but with nearly limitless-scaling platforms like WordPress, you can build a fairly sizable business rather quickly. Many offline businesses would take much longer just to get everything in place to be able to open.
8. Potentially no commute!
If you run your online business out of your home, you’re one of the lucky people that doesn’t have to drive to work. I can say that simply having back the 7 hours of car time every week going to and from work was reason enough to love having my own online business at home.
There are plenty more I haven’t mentioned, but I’ll leave that to you – in what other ways are online businesses different than offline?