How Some Small Businesses Weather the Stormy Economy

E-commerce has become an important source of help to small businesses. Small brick-and-mortar operations, like other businesses in this economy, have suffered dramatic revenue losses. A boon to many of these small businesses has come in the form of a cost effective, efficient way to create an online version of their stores. Below are three sample cases of small, struggling businesses that were able to expand by using taking their stores online.

BasicsClothing.com

Roland Shar owns a clothing store in California and was feeling the effects of a slow economy. He thought the answer to his problem might be to reach a broader clientele by selling his clothing on the Internet. Roland is an immigrant from Burma, and English is his second language. That made it tough for him to find a company he could use to set up the online version of his store.

He couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it and wanted to be able to control his website himself, so he needed a company that would provide the tools and knowledge that would allow him to do that, despite his lack of computer experience. After trying and failing with four or five different companies, he found one that had all the tools and support he needed.

It took Roland about three months to build his first website and only a few days to get his first order using pay-per-click ads. He says if it weren’t for his e-commerce website, he’d still be struggling.

VinylPro.com

Thad Kresho of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania taught music for 13 years before he started his own vinyl repair company. After a few years of running that business on his own, the makers of the repair products he used asked him if he’d teach others how to use their products. Eventually, that part of his business grew into a distributorship of vinyl and leather repair products for independent technicians, as he had been.

Business was pretty good but Thad knew it needed to be stronger if he expected it to weather an economic downturn. He had a website but it wasn’t giving him what he needed. The platform he’d used didn’t allow him to show all the sizes in which his products were available. Also, he wasn’t sure how to get the flow of quality Web traffic to his site that would result in purchases.

The mailer inviting him to an Internet marketing conference came in Thad’s mail just in time. He and his wife attended the follow-up training Workshop together and decided they needed to buy the 6-site package and use them for SEO on the search terms they wanted people to find them with.

He had to stay up until about 2 a.m. every night for about three weeks but he got his first website up and running and immediately started a pay-per-click campaign. He only had to wait a day or two before he had his first order. Today, that business not only has orders coming in from all over the country but also has a lot of international orders to fill, as well. Update: Thad recently sold that business and bought another website from the same company as before to begin a new business venture. pittsburgh seo company

NorthAmericanKnives.com

Kirk and Bonnie McCormick of Baker City, Oregon had a small side-business selling koi. Koi are those colorful Japanese breeds of carp that people put in aquariums and outdoor fish ponds. The McCormicks were only selling locally and wanted to sell more, so they set out to build a website that would allow them to sell their koi on the Internet. The company they contracted with for hosting and training provided them with keyword research tools. Using those tools, they made two discoveries that would devastate their plans. First, they discovered that there were a lot of other companies selling koi online. But worse, they discovered that not many people were searching online for koi. Lots of competition plus low demand equals a great recipe for a failed business.

They’d already bought the websites and contracted for the hosting. They knew that in order to make their investment pay off they had to find another way.

“We made long lists of things we knew about to try to think of something else we could sell online,” said Bonnie. After narrowing the list down to just a few ideas they began researching each one to see if they could find a supplier with a product they could sell competitively. They gave up on several ideas before they found a supplier of knives that would work with them.

Instead of selling koi online, they sell knives of all different types, the income from which has eclipsed their koi business. Today, Kirk still works full time in law enforcement but Bonnie just runs their knife websites (they run four now) from home.

 

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