By Per Wickstrom
As a small business owner, how much of your day is spent sending emails, scanning documents, video conferencing, or working on the computer? If you’re like me, your answer is probably “a lot.” In this day and age, so much of what we do can be accomplished through the Internet, leaving little room for personal contact. While there are benefits to this influx of technology, I have found that though it may be easier, sometimes clicking “Send” isn’t the best option.
Certainly, the creation of the Internet brought with it an astounding amount of possibilities for businesses. Now companies can do almost anything online, including: marketing, bookkeeping, meeting with clients, selling products, and several forms of communication.
The benefits of conducting business online are quite clear, they include:
-Saving time on commuting
-Saving money on office space and equipment
-Easily and quickly communicating
-Increasing profits through marketing to larger audiences
-The ability to send and receive information from anywhere at any time.
The convenience of doing business through the Internet is certainly unmatched, but it may not be right for every company.
There are important aspects of building a personal relationship that are lost these days when business owners rely too much on online connections. While we small business owners can create social media profiles to connect with customers, there is nothing quite like meeting one on one. Social media strategies are helpful, but only in a personal setting can businesses, partners, clients, customers, investors, and others get a true understanding of your goals. Even though video conferencing is available, it still doesn’t provide the personal touch that is often missing from online transactions.
Additionally, I know from first-hand experience that certain industries simply work better when business is conducted in person. In my own field, for example, it may be possible for addicts to meet with therapists over a video chat, but it won’t result in the same outcome as if the addict were an inpatient in our facility. Otherwise, the addict would lack accountability and motivation to remain sober.
Even for businesses that may conduct transactions online only (for example, Etsy shop owners), they may not be unlocking their true potential by sticking solely to the Internet market. A storefront, even one of the a short-lived pop-up variety, could lead to personal relationships and eventually expansion of the brand.
Regardless of your business type, I encourage all small business owners to seek out opportunities to connect with your customers offline. Whether it’s via a thank you card sent via snail mail or a once-a-year in-person meeting, those “real world” transactions mean a lot to customers and go a long way toward creating loyal, happy customers.
Per Wickstrom is the founder and CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation, one of the top holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He found sobriety after a decades-long struggle with addiction and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others find the same life-affirming success he has. His program is based on natural and holistic methods and has helped lead hundreds to recovery. Connect with Per via Twitter or LinkedIn.