Introduction: Internet Plan For Small Business
To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art – this Chinese proverb reflects a proper relation towards business in general. Indeed, starting a small business often seems a simple task. This is the reason for dreams of numerous people, especially young ones, to become businessmen.
However, running small business is not as easy as it seems for the first glance. From the viewpoint of marketing strategies, its distinction from big business is not that significant. Thus, if keeping a business open is an art – we must become professional artists to succeed in it.
In the current paper I will illustrate how Internet plan may be implemented in a small business organization and how opportunities that Internet offers may help to develop it effectively. For my example I have chosen the branch of business connected with sound production and movies. I was always interested in music, especially in French folklore. Besides, I love French movies very much. Hence my decision to open a small business related to French culture is only natural.
Therefore, I open a small company “Little France” with a shop where I sell various France-related records including French movies and music. Besides, I offer simple custom French-stylized sound-processing of small audio material. In order to expand outside my town I created a plan for developing my business through the World Wide Web.
The business I have chosen to develop is rather specific hence demands special knowledge and skills. From one hand, sound and video records differ from other kinds of products as for they belong to the class of intellectual property. From the other side, sound production to its turn demands even more creativity and skills. Therefore, my business contains two major components, products and services. Let me now consistently describe both of these components.
The product part of my business consists of entertaining and informative informational material. All the material is devoted to a single topic – France. The products consist of several elements – video and audio. Video material includes French movies of all times, documentary films by French authors, and chronicles about French history. There is also much video-information related to French sport that includes famous sportsmen biographies, best moments in the history of French sports, materials from Olympic Games, and so on. Besides, in our store the client may find many animated films produced in France both for children and adults. Video material is represented in most popularized formats and data carriers. They include Video-CD-R/RW (Avi), DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, Mpeg4. On the additional request we may re-record any video material onto VCR format.
Audio material includes various records that have any relation to France. It contains all kinds of French music of all times, from classic and folklore to pop music and soundtracks. There are many songs and albums for children. We also offer diverse audio courses of French language for both children and adults. Audio material is as well represented in various formats and carriers, mostly Audio-CD (Wave), and Mp3. We also may record any audio data onto audiotape on request.
The services we offer present a logical addition to the products we supply. The idea to supply services along with products was very natural from the viewpoint of the main topic of our business – France and French culture. My company offers simple custom sound processing using appropriate software and several units of sound equipment in a mini-studio. Some customers want to have the sounds of their favorite French music on their mobile phones, others – to hear French folklore every day on their alarm clock, and many people want to have a few-minutes-long composition containing fragments from their favorite movie soundtracks. The most often orders I receive are congratulating sound-presents and collections of favorite songs from many discs on a single disc.
I buy all the materials from wholesale suppliers who are official representatives of French audio and video companies in our country. All the materials are legal and authorized.
Small business gives small profits, hence the desire of every businessman to expand and improve their businesses. To succeed in it any company must elaborate an effective marketing strategy, identify its target audience, position itself onto the appropriate market segment, and follow the goal consistently and carefully. This process is always difficult and risky. However, recently there appeared sufficient and convenient approach to running almost any kind of business. It is based on the Internet. E-commerce becomes more and more popular, and volumes of products and services sold through internet shops increase every month. Besides, making business on the Internet is more comfortable and gives far more opportunities and advantages than regular business.
– Goals of Internet Plan
After considering a plan to improve my business I have decided to implement Internet technologies and to position my company’s products onto the World Wide Web market. The major reasons for this decision were the following:
- an opportunity to attract larger amounts of potential customers and clients to my products and services;
- a possibility to run business safely and conveniently;
- an opportunity to supply products to customers of any
place in the world not leaving my office;
- high probability to find new partners.
– Marketing strategy
Being an inexhaustible resource of information, Internet became a perfect tool for business of any type. Thus one of the main points I had to consider was investigating the market sector in the Internet I was interested in. Internet shops offer a wide range of diverse products and services including audio and video material. However, I noticed that very few of them supply very specific kind of product. I could find only several companies in the Internet that could sell wide assortment of French records. Therefore, the idea to position my business onto the WWW-market looked only more attractive.
From the other hand I faced a problem of finding so-called market niche in the Internet environment. I understood that having a nice product to sell is far not enough to succeed in business, especially on the Internet. I decided then to use the best Internet advantages to provide my potential clients with the most relevant information about my products, such as:
- Well-designed and valid professional web-site;
- Optimizing it using keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), yet providing important information only;
- Register in web-catalogues on the appropriate topic;
- Putting simple advertisement text links in the most popular web portals (like Google Ad-Words);
- Probably putting small banners on commercial sites.
Of course these techniques are not the only ways to market the company product successfully. However these are the first important steps that will bring you much closer to the goal. As an example of companies that successfully implemented the above methods I would mention the following web pages: www.rockinghorse.net, and www.multilingualbooks.com.
However to succeed in the product e-market my strategy must be very effective. The companies that appeared to be the most successful in B2C (Business for customer) e-commerce in a sphere of supplying informational material on different data carriers (books, disks, etc.) mostly belong to big business representing large companies. The best example is of no doubt www.amazon.com that offers very wide range of production. Hence, my small business will rather succeed in the regional market level where deliveries do not take much time.
Internet can also be a good tool to enhance the company’s customer service. As for my company “Little France”, I may find numerous new customers for sound production service in the Internet. I think in my case the service I supply may be even easier to sell if following the right steps. Besides, a range of service customers may be significantly wider, up to the opposite place on the Earth, as for I will provide order deliveries through Internet technologies (e-mail, ftp-server, etc.) As far as I studied the subject, the key steps to succeed in the Internet services market should be effective promotion and optimal organization of supplying services.
For the promotion of my company’s customer services I turned to the popular web-sites that offer any kind of service via Internet. I found rather large number of such companies. After analyzing the beat of them I found that the best tools to promote this kind of business may be advertisement through text links (e.g. Google Ad Words), useful links exchange, and web-optimization (through proper keywords, SEO, etc.) Besides this, success in this field depends soundly on the way business is organized. Every detail must be considered, including optimal order form, communication with customers, feedback, order delivery, payment system, refund possibility, and so on. For my audio processing and sound production business I should pay special attention to detailed customer order form and communication with client. As examples of web-sites that offer useful customer services I would mention www.songs4teachers.com/personalizedpoems and www.tranexp.com.
Along with other advantages the Internet is a good tool for marketing research for business. This area is rather complicated and WWW facilitates the process of data gathering and analyzing significantly. Any research is aimed on getting relevant information or forecast for business and implies interaction with large numbers of people to collect data and processing information correctly. You may make marketing research in the Internet yourself, or you may use help of such web-resources: www.marketresearchworld.net, www.knowthis.com, www.wilsonweb.com, www.marketing.about.com, www.umassd.edu.
– Useful Opportunities
After investigating the advantages of running business through the Internet I realized how many useful additional opportunities it gives for e-businessmen. One of the perfect functions of the Internet is communication. Being an important part of every member of society, communication became a necessary element of making business. World Wide Web makes this process easier, faster, and much more convenient. In the type of business I have chosen communication plays significant role. I should be able to speak to my customers while making the orders, to receive their feedback, to communicate with potential clients and partners. For this purpose I will choose the best tools Internet offers for communication, e-mail and ICQ. It would be possible to contact me both directly from my web-site filling in the form or sending a message to the e-mail address specified on my web-page. For discussing details of the orders with customers I will also use ICQ. In future I plan to make forum and chat on my web-site to provide all users with convenient communication. The example of sites that use this service I would mention www.ibm.com/contact/us or www.hostingassured.findmyhosting.com/contact.htm.
Internet is widely used to provide general information about the company and its business for any user. The most simple and effective way to do it is putting all the important information on the web-site. If it is designed and organized properly, the probability of success increases soundly. The information must be effectively distributed among web-pages of your site considering relevancy and usability. On my web-resource I will post brief general information about my company onto main page from where the appropriate links will lead to more specific sections. Examples of web-sites that provide efficient information to my mind are www.adobe.com, www.motorola.com, or www.freetranslation.com.
Another opportunity Internet gives for different companies is providing repository for business information. It is very important and useful for facilitating the process of searching, keeping, processing and sharing data. The best ways to organize a comfortable repository data is using appropriate systems, for instance document management systems or database managing systems. Making mirroring copies of data repository is also a good tendency for more secure information keeping.
Internet is very comfortable not only for running B2C (business to customers) e-commerce, but also for connecting businesses – B2B (business to business) e-commerce. The process of ordering from suppliers becomes much faster and easier when using Internet technologies. In my case some audio and video records may be even delivered to me through ftp-server online. If choosing the right provider with optimal traffic it may be possible. The transactions become easier as well when using web-money. Moreover, Internet makes it possible to find new business partners for your company. Most of small business companies are rather friendly and ready to contact with potential partners through I-net, so sometimes it takes one letter. Link exchange with sites on similar topic is also very effective way to find partners. Surfing the web using keywords diverse catalogues and search engines it is easy to find web-sites for any field and subject.
The item worth mentioning for small business in the Internet is security. E-business is more vulnerable than regular one, so this subject demands more attention. As for me, I consider several items for my business security are the most relevant. For example, I will protect all my business computers with antivirus, firewall, and anti-spyware. Security may include various hard- and software and must be always kept updated. Besides, using wired connection is safer than wireless one. In any case, it is very useful to ask a consultation of professional for keeping e-business secure.
In the conclusion I would like to get back to my business. The field I chose to develop in the Internet to my mind could appear very successful. There are very few companies in the Internet that provide such products like specific French music and movies, and no companies at all that offer customer service like French-stylized sound processing and production. However we must be very careful and consistent while placing business onto the Internet market. And if elaborating proper strategy and follow it consistently, any company can sooner or later reach success in its field of e-business.
Holden, G. (1998). Small Business Internet for Dummies. For Dummies.
Edwards, P. (1998). Getting business to come to you. Tarcher.
Heatherington, T. (1999). The Complete Small Business Internet Guide. Que.
Cox, B. (2003). Internet Marketing. Prentice Hall.
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