By Earl Hunsinger
Your dream has always been to start your own business. You’re ready to take the plunge, and invest the money and time to finally do it. The question is: where should you locate your business? Just as in real estate, a critical factor in the success of any business is its location.
Obviously the more people that pass by your store, the more potential customers you have, and the more sales you will make. Of course, there are other factors involved. You have to get them to come in and look around, and then you have to sell them something after they do. However, no matter how inviting your store is, no matter how desirable and reasonably priced you merchandise is, if there is no one there to look at it, you’ll never sell a thing.
This brings us back to the importance of location. If you could locate your business in a place where over a billion people pass by on a regular basis, wouldn’t that improve your chances of drawing at least a few of them in and making a sale? This is not just wishful thinking. Such a place really, or perhaps we should say virtually, exists.
According to the website, Internet World Stats, over a billion people around the world use the Internet, with over 200,000,000 in the U.S. alone. This means that by starting your business online, you have potential customers in every part of the U.S., and around the world. This is especially beneficial if your business is very specialized, filling a small niche market.
As an example, perhaps you love collecting old postcards and have always wanted to make a business out of your hobby. You could build up your inventory, rent a building, organize everything, and open your doors for business. The problem is, if you live in a small town of only a few thousand people, how many share your interest enough to come into your store? Even if you live in a bigger city, it might be a challenge to make enough sales to be successful. The Internet makes everyone who shares your interest a potential customer, without requiring that they travel to your location.
Another advantage of starting a business online is the lower cost of starting and operating such a business. To open a physical store, it is necessary to first rent or buy a building, if you don’t already own one. For a prime location, this can be very expensive. While the process is similar with an online store, the cost is usually lower. When opening such a store, you must first find a virtual location or a web host. You might compare this to renting a spot in a strip mall. Many web hosts require a one time set up fee of about $50 and ‘rent’ of approximately $5 – $25 per month.
You also need to name your business, or give it a domain name. This domain name is like a name and address all in one; it uniquely identifies your place on the Internet. The yearly cost for using this name is approximately $5 – $25.
What you are renting from the web host is just an empty space, like renting an empty lot. Before you can open your store, you need to build it. Most people hire a web designer to do this for them. The cost of doing this varies greatly, from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand.
Other costs are more standard, but it’s up to you how much more you want to spend. These might include office equipment, and maybe a method for taking credit cards. So while there is some investment involved, overall it is much cheaper to start up a business on the Internet than in a brick-and-mortar building.
For an even more economical way to start your online business you might consider a site like eBay, where you pay as you go and they do much of the work for you.
A final thought about the benefits of starting your business online: you never have to ask who’s minding the store. With an Internet business, you can be ‘open’ 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, with no need to be physically present, even though potential customers are always there.
So then, before you scour your neighborhood looking for the ideal location for your business, consider that the ideal location may be staring you in the face right now.