Untapped riches still to be found in the Internet

Thousands of visitors went to the annual Berkshire Show today. It was packed with people – many of whom were spending money at the 600 shops or the hundreds of exhibition stands. Equally, thousands of people bought food and drink to keep them fuelled for the miles of walking they would do all day.

Yet, unlike previous years there was something missing. True, there was no livestock there because of the foot and mouth restrictions. But even more curious in its absence was any banking facilities. In previous years all of the major high street banks have been there. This year – nothing from them. Yet, they could have offered banking facilities to the show’s exhibitors and traders, dealing with the hundreds of thousands of pounds that would have inevitably been spent.

The banks, for whatever reason, had denied themselves business by being absent. But it’s not just the obvious business they were missing. They also lost the opportunity for promotion. Having an advert in the programme is not the same as meeting people.

Whether it’s cost cutting that was the issue, or lack of staff availability, the disappearance of the banks from the show was clearly their loss. Yet this short-sighted approach to business is rife these days, especially online.

Here on the Internet you would expect those fast moving Californians to be leading the way, wouldn’t you. Well, rather like the banks and the Berkshire Show, they are conspicuous by their absence. According to a recent study, less than half the small businesses in California have a web site. The technophiles of California still haven’t grasped the Internet. Indeed, the study goes on to show that most of the small business who do have web sites, fail to sell anything on them. In other words, only a tiny proportion of the world’s most technically capable people, are using the Internet to make money.

The press release about this study also reveals that less than one third of the businesses with e-commerce enabled web sites are able to sell all of their products online. The reasons behind this lack of willingness to exploit the Internet are really just excuses – “we haven’t had the time”, or “we’re improving our products first, before we release them”. Like the banks at the county show, these are short sighted businesses who behave like this.

What the research consistently tells us is the fact that few businesses are using the Internet to either promote their business, or to make money online. If your business is “waiting for the right moment” or “trying to find the right time” to exploit the Internet – tough, someone else will do it before you. And that’s just what happened today at the Berkshire County Show. The banks weren’t there, so some estate agents and a building society dived into to plug the financial gap. That’s exactly what is going to happen to those non-Internet businesses in California – and your business too, if you don’t grasp the opportunity now. Tomorrow will be too late.

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