What can an offline small black owned or operated business do to use technology today?
First let's have a look at what offline means with regards to the Internet and technology today.
It simply means that there is no connection to the Internet.
A few examples:
A restaurant that may have 100's of visitors a day but no website, facebook account or email address is offline.
A taxi driver who doesn't advertise online or take bookings through any Internet connected medium such as email, Facebook or an app, is operating offline.
A hairdresser or barber who opens shop everyday, serves their customers and has no work related Internet interaction at all- again offline.
Offline doesn't mean unsuccessful !
In this sense it simply means that someone or something is not connected to the Internet.
Please be aware that being online is not necessary for all businesses and there are probably many businesses around the world where they have not gone online and are still doing well.
There are many things to consider before taking a business online.
How will the online facilities be set up?
What will the costs be and who will pay?
Who will monitor the business' Internet activity?
Who will fulfill any additional custom that the business may attract?
How will the costs of running the online activity be met?
These questions DO need to be addressed before getting an offline business connected to the Internet.
If after answering the above questions there is still a 'YES This business needs to go online' then how can a small black business use technology today?
Here are a few simple suggestions.
Get a website
This could involve building it yourself, which can be relatively easy if you are familiar with using word processing applications such as Microsoft Word or any of the desktop publishing applications that are available.
Some of these are FREE.
There are many free options available to build a website yourself.
If you know someone who can help you and also teach you how to manage it in their absence, that can be a great start.
Also if funds are available and you want to have a professionally made website, get the services of a website designer.
Build a Facebook business page
Facebook has become one of the fastest growing and easiest methods to put a business online.
This is because millions of people use Facebook technology today and already use it regularly (some people even hourly!) to let their friends, family and the rest of the world know what they are doing or what they are interested in. This is also free.
Create a Twitter account
Twitter is another good way for a small black business to get online.
Twitter can be useful for any business that just wants to send simple short messages, images or links to websites or information that is relevant to its customers. Again free.
Get an email address
This too can be free. There are many different free options for getting an email address. The best option could be to buy your own .com or .whatever domain name and have your own firstname.lastname@example.org . Doing this provides some reassurance that should you decide to invest in a website in the future, you already own it (the domain name).
Something to note here: Domain names are being bought all day, every day. The name you think of now, might already be taken. If it is still available and it is definitely the name you want, buy it as soon as possible because it could be gone anytime. There are many businesses that have had to change their business name because when they decided to buy their .com name it was already purchased by a competitor!
Here is an example; Tamara owns an opticians named Tamaras Opticians in Park Lane, London, UK.
She searches on the Internet one day to see if the domain name london-opticians.com is available it is. She's happy that no one has bought it yet.
A new opticians opens further along the street. There are plenty of customers for both businesses so it is not a problem.
Some months later she decides to put her business online to get some extra customers. When she checks again, the new opticians has already purchased the name london-opticians.com
Now she is a little concerned as she thought she was the only one to think of it.
Fortunately, Tamara has been thinking of totally upgrading the look of her business and having a relaunch. When she relaunches her business, she calls it Park Lane Opticians and she decides on a domain name park-lane-opticians.london
The good thing about that is the name specifies exactly where her business is and it doesn't have to compete in so many search results as london-opticians.com
Have an app built
Apps are possibly the fastest growing income generators in technology today. Since smart phones and tablets have become so widely used, smart phones, tablets and apps are now set to overtake desktop and laptop use.
Apps can be expensive to have them built, some companies will build them cheaply for you, or you can even build them yourself, providing you are willing to learn how to do this. We'll cover this in a different article.
There are other methods of getting your business online including Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn. The method you choose will depend on the nature of your business.
Do you now see the various ways that a small black owned or operated business can use technology today?
Going online could put your business onto a global level where you can gain new business from different parts of your country or even another country.
Research, question, investigate and then decide if your business could grow by using technology today.
If you would like any help or advice on anything covered here, please contact us.