Making money while you sleep

Ian Bushby on why you're missing a trick if you don't sell online

I see all sorts of interesting research and information in my job – but one piece recently has really puzzled me.

A survey of 400 small businesses revealed that six out of 10 are missing out on their share of a £20bn a year web shopping boom because they are not selling their products and services online.

Despite four out of five of those polled by the Voice of the Small Business report having websites, most regarded them mainly as promotional platforms.

The thought that thousands of start-ups could be missing a trick by not selling on the internet leaves me with a sense of bewilderment.

This is a time when more people than ever are going online to buy because of the choice, convenience and cost savings the web offers. Yet a surprising 67% of SMEs have little faith they can find customers on the internet, according to the survey.

So why exactly are some entrepreneurs lagging so far behind cyber consumerism? It may well be that those running start-ups could be new to the arena of online sales and feel they lack the confidence, knowledge or ability to sell and distribute their goods.

However, this would be a big mistake – because there is now a plethora of free technical tools and business support which can help start-ups to not only launch successfully but also to prosper.

In this day and age, anybody launching a business must harness the power of the internet because there are now more than 31 million people online in the UK, many of whom are using the internet to track down a bargain, pinpoint a local service or hunt for a niche product. Remember: a website opens up a 24/7 global marketplace, so you can make money even while you’re sleeping – surely something which nobody could complain about!

Ian Bushby is head of start-ups at BT Business


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