By Joshua Lucas

Issue # 2

Wednesday, March 11, 1998


Last week, we looked at the evolution of business on-line; from the early days when only the largest company could afford the budget for a presence on-line to the current day where anyone who wants to be on the Web can do so without much effort. This drop in the overhead has been a great development for small businesses since it allows them to play on the same field as the largest corporations.

Even though big business will always have a larger budget for consultants and web designers, it shouldn't discourage the small business. A joke about the Internet says that on the Internet, no one knows you are a dog. When this is applied to the small business, it should give great comfort. If you can put together a site which brings in customers, no one has to know that the business only has one employee and its headquarters are in a garage!

Just because the overhead is low doesn't mean that there isn't a danger in going on-line. Specifically, the danger lies in the fact that a site can be put up without the thought and the commitment it deserves. This can cause great harm and discourage both the business and the customer.

Does this mean that a small business has to go into debt trying to compete with a large company? Of course not! Many places will host the equivalent of a yellow pages ad for a small business. On it, things like directions, store hours, and an email address can be displayed.

This can be a perfect start for a small business but wouldn't work for a company like Microsoft, because the customer's expectations for Microsoft are much higher based on their brand name and high profile.

It all revolves around what the customer's expectations will be for your on-line presence. No matter how cost-effective a one-page site is, serious thought should be given to how expansion on-line can strengthen the relationship a business has with its customer.

"Lucas, Joshua Lucas". . .writes for a living. By day he writes software, and by night he weaves words. Josh has coded in Java, C, C++, and Perl for some of the hippest and most recognizable companies in the US, including The Gap, Starbucks, Nike, and Nordstroms. Josh's rich experience, coupled with his diligent daily research, places him as close to the "cutting edge" as you can get without falling off. He and his wife recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.

Time has to be given to finding out what's new on the Web. Bookmark these and check them once a day! It will do wonders for your basic Internet knowledge. -
Wired News -
TechWeb -
ZDNet -
Mecklermedia's -
And don't forget to keep sending me topics you'd like to learn more about!

Still, few people question the fact that for a large company, a small or poorly thought out web site can be worse than no site at all!

By not thinking things through, a business can alienate the customers who are excited about the business being on-line. It will most likely burn bridges which cannot be repaired even if the business put more emphasis on it presence on the Web. The two sides of the "Netizen" is that while they can have short fuses and long memories, then can also be some of the most helpful people out there.

This is the challenge facing the small business owner who wants to be on the Web. A poorly thought out site can be disaster on the relationship with the customer but a site which has tons of bells and whistles could very easily put the business in great debt. In the coming weeks, we'll explore solutions for the business owner who wants to be on the Web without breaking the bank.

NEXT WEEK: Knowledge is Power

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