Home Businesses Benefit from the Internet
Operating a home business has become easier in many aspects since the advent of the Internet. Even if your business isn’t connected directly with Internet sales and promotion, you can utilize the Internet to make your work easier and your business run more smoothly.
*E-mail - Communication is much quicker with e-mail. You can touch bases with customers, do billing, send information when requested. You also can use the phone, but with e-mail, there is something the other person can look at and focus on.
This is a great way to conduct interviews nowadays. You e-mail the questions and when the interviewee receives them, he/she can answer them when they have time. Okay, the interview isn’t so spontaneous and the interviewee has time to think out answers, slant them the way they want. However, you also have the option whether or not to use the questions.
*Web sites - Most businesses need a web site nowadays. You don’t necessarily sell from the web site, but it’s a place to send customers when they desire information about your product or service. Also, as you become more “visible” on the Internet, customers will find you via your web site. This is where they can check you out before communicating further.
*Blogs - Many businesses are setting up blogs nowadays. Less formal then a web site, they might be part of the web site or completely separate. Here business owners discuss various aspects of their business, presenting the more human side of their day to day work.
(For more information about Business and Blogging, check out Des Walsh’s b5media blog of this name www.businessandblogging.com )
*Ordering - The Internet, via your web site or blog, is a great place to set up customer ordering. You might do this in addition to having a shop in your home. You also can use other means of selling your goods, such as fairs, shows, and displays. Often you’ll find these people asking if you have a web site where they can order later.
You also can order supplies for your business online and often receive them more quickly.
*Acquiring information - The Internet is a great place for acquiring information and education in your field. There are newsletters, web sites, blogs (such as this one) chat groups, online e-mail groups you can interact with and find help for your business.
*Teaching classes - You can teach online classes about your business or craft. I teach online writing classes. Some quilters offer classes online. (My daughter has taken a number of these.) Others can give instructions about setting up their type of business or how to make something. The writing classes I give are offered via e-mail. They’re something like a correspondence class, only the time between student and teacher is much quicker than when we used the postal.
You can take online classes to help learn necessary skills for your home business. The online classes are especially helpful if you don’t live close to an educational facility, particularly one offering what you need.
*Invoicing - You’ll generally keep your bookkeeping on a program you might download and update from the Internet. You might not actually keep your records on an internet site; however, your computer is utilized for storing the information.
You can invoice customers via e-mail. For instance, my husband does some print work with his computer program. Today he printed 50 brochures, boxed them for mailing, then gave me the figures for making up an invoice. I e-mailed this to the customer and immediately received an answer saying she’d get the check into tomorrow’s mail.
With all my writing jobs that require my invoicing the customer or publisher, I send them by e-mail now instead of postal. As soon as they receive the billing, it’s sent directly to the bookkeeping department. If there are any questions, we can e-mail or phone.
These are a few of the ways the Internet has aided the home business owner. As you think about your business and situation, you probably can find more. If you have some I haven’t mentioned, do share with us.)