Business SOS: How to Not Suck This Year

If you’ve been in business for a number of years, you’ve probably seen a lot of trends come and go. Some of them, like typewriters, had their quiet burials. Others, like the office robots we all wish we had, which would do everything from unlocking the front door to auditing the yearly financial statements, all for a quick daily battery boost, don’t (yet) exist.

The thread that holds it all together, nowadays, is technology. From personal productivity to office automation, most of us are quick to jump on the bandwagon whenever the latest and greatest new tech development is unrolled to our nearest corner store.

The king of these is the wonder known as the internet. Never before, in the history of humanity, have people been able to empower themselves to such an extent as the world wide web allows them to, every minute of every day. Where before information was

  • unknown (consider the informational database of your average caveman),
  • misguided (flat earth, anyone?),
  • coveted (if you were rich and/or gave your occupational life to the Church, you were eligible to learn how to read, and thus one of only a few who knew what the heck was actually going on in the world), or
  • limited (how long do you think it took for a New Yorker in the 1920s to find out about a tsunami in the Philippines?)

today we have the world at our fingertips, and the ability to buy from any business we so choose, as long as we’re able to find them online.

Which is why it’s somewhat unbelievable that the majority of brick-and-mortar business worldwide still do not have an online presence. What are we waiting for – Armageddon?

Another sad tale is that of a company who did do as business logic dictates, and got a website… only, it’s frozen in time, forever stuck in what has a dreadful 90s look to it. Would you want to buy from a fashion store whose window display hasn’t changed once since they first opened in the Stone Age? Neither does anyone who opens up a web browser and sees an outdated site.

Say your office or store had a broken window. How long would business continue as usual before you’d have it fixed? Pretty much immediately, I’d say. Why, then, would having a digital presence be your last priority?

And would your material of choice be whatever’s at hand, be it a piece of plywood or a taped-on refuse bag? Of course not. You’d buy the proper type of glass in the proper size at the proper price. Why, then, would creating, growing, and maintaining a top-notch digital presence for your business be any different?

Your target market lives in the real world. As you do. When they need a telephone number, they don’t trek down to their nearest pay phone because the donkey cart failed to deliver their copy of Yellow Pages last week. They simply whip out a smartphone and let that 3G connection do the walking.

As sophisticated consumers, we expect businesses to be online, and we expect them to look the part. When they’re not, or when what they offer is sub-par, we simply add them to the not-my-cuppa pile. And there they shall stay until they – unlikely – reinvent themselves to become relevant, relatable, and useful. In other words, until they’re online, and online in a way that’s at least as good as everyone else.

Your business will stop sucking when you stop thinking of its digital version as a nice-to-have that you don’t have the time or budget for, or (perhaps even worse) a necessary evil that can make do with a watered-down version that saves the biggest amount of buck.

Will 2015 be the year in which you do things differently?