5 reasons to start with an offline-first business (instead of an online business)

Should you start your business offline first or test your business online – spend less money? Or just spend more starting your business in a physical location, say somewhere in town? This is what I am going to explore in this article – to show why starting offline first can still be a great idea for many people getting into business for the first time.

Of course I am also going to share some tips that can help you run a hybrid model – where you start a business offline but also leverage the power of the web / internet to bring in more business.

Reasons to start your business in a physical location

Even with how enticing starting an online business is, there are still great reasons to start with an offline-first business. I know how cheaper it can be to start an internet business compared to starting something with a physical location where customers have to come in to buy from you – regardless of what product you sell or service you offer as a new business owner.

 Note: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on something I recommend and purchase it, I will receive a commission for the sale – at no extra cost to you. 

So, if you still want to turn a small business idea you have into a storefront people can walk into to take advantage of your services but still feel swayed into looking at a bunch of business ideas that work best online, here are four reasons to stick it out, come with a plan, put in the work before launch and open your offline-first business in a location of choice – of course it has to be in a place where prospects and customers can easily find you and buy from you.

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1 – There still are a lot of profitable products (and niches) people still prefer to shop for by visiting a store near them – a store with a physical location that is. Things like furniture for example or most of the items commonly used in households on a daily basis.

Another good thing is that the high shipping charges that some large purchases attract online will almost be zero when customers shop offline – if they have a vehicle of their own to carry such bulky products like laundry machines, refrigerators or an instrument like a piano.

Another advantage of having a physical location for your business is that you will be quickly fulfilling the needs of customers who want the products they pay for immediately (think snacks, fresh produce etc.).

They can just check-in to your store, buy whatever it is you are selling and carry it home with them. no need for overnight shipping wait period or patiently waiting for the parcel to be shipped to their door in a two or three days – or even a week.

2 – Physical stores enjoy the trust of people living in the same location the store is situated. This can be advantageous when it comes to you doing your marketing. The reception you are likely to get from your community, if you tailor your offers in a way that speaks well to their needs and wants, is sure to be a great one.

Online businesses sometimes suffer from credibility issues. The mistrust directed to most of them are higher compared to those directed at legit locally owned businesses that do their best to offer quality services and products to prospects and customers who walk through their doors.

3 – There is less competition in some niches if you position your offer well. Compared to most niches on the internet that are full of competition, offline you will most certainly be competing with business in your local area – not the entire county, state, country or globe.

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Of course this doesn’t mean that you have to slack on sales, marketing and taking action that will ensure your business stays alive long-term – and that it continues to grow while still remaining profitable.

This point is just to give you an idea of how you can specialize, focus more of your marketing efforts to the needs of the folks in your area, thereby increasing your client-base, sales, profits, quality, number of happy repeat customers and a stronger financial muscle that you can use to grow your business more without dipping your fingers into debt or splurging a lot of money on advertising that doesn’t convert into new business.

4 – With a local business, you can also add an internet presence later on by building a website, app, online shop or blog to reach even more customers and generate new leads.

Your repeat customers (and the new ones) can also learn more about you from your site, be rewarded on your website and also shop online and then come to your store to pick their shopping – or have you or an errand person deliver it to them.

You can also use your site to answer the questions most customers and prospects often ask you while they visit your store or speak to you in person or over the phone.

This can increase trust, credibility, shorten the sales cycle, help in lead generation, increase customer satisfaction, result in new referrals and put you ahead of a lot of local businesses operating in the same niche or industry as you – by dominating the local search of your area, ranking for your target keywords at the top of page one of different search engines shoppers use to read reviews and research products, businesses and service providers in your city or town.

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5 – With a physical store, you can still take advantage of online marketing e.g., by paying for ads on Facebook, Bing Ads, Amazon, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google AdWords.

How can you do this? By targeting prospects and buyers within a few miles (or walking distance) of your store. Your online advertisements can be shown in the apps they use or on Facebook. They can also be shown when they are doing their searches on Google Search, Bing Search, Yahoo or Duckduckgo.

You can also do advertising deals with people from your local area. Think of local publishers such as bloggers getting good and targeted traffic to their blogs.

Think of the big popular and niche authority websites targeting your local area. Think of the people with big newsletters in your area that you can do joint ventures with.

Think of other non-competing businesses, institutions and associations in your area that you can partner with. Often you can research them online and then contact them via email, in person or by calling them.

These are some of the things to ponder if you are in a situation where you don’t know whether to launch your business idea offline before going online (or vice versa).

Conclusion

Think about the five points as you lay out your plan to start your business.

If you think launching offline first suits better, go that route. Don’t be dissuaded by stories of people sharing how they pumped thousands into brick and mortar stores online to face failure.

Online too people start businesses and fail as well. It can be cheaper to get started with an idea a computer and internet connection but that doesn’t mean that the cheapness of it all makes failure from online ventures sting less.

For related articles, check Niabusiness.com business category.

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