You don’t need to read a newspaper to realize that newspapers are becoming a thing of the past. The rapid technological change in computer technology has digitized so much of what we do in such a short period of time that it’s practically dizzying.
Having a business idea today requires a much different mindset than just twenty years ago, and not just because of always changing fads. The internet has altered how we interact with each other permanently. Not only can you communicate with anyone around the world immediately, but you can buy pretty much anything just as quick.
This means a radical change in how you look at your product or service because having a good app or website is now the equivalent of having a well-maintained brick and mortar stores in a high foot traffic neighbourhood in the past.
However even though it is rather dispiriting to walk down a city or town’s main street and see shuttered stores or ‘for lease’ signs in the window, there remains a handful of options for those who don’t want to sell something strictly online.
The Morning Coffee
Even though there are plenty of food delivery apps that can bring you absolutely any chicken sandwich or milkshake from across the city, when it comes to having a piping hot coffee (or cool iced latte in the summer), that’s still something people have to do themselves.
This means that running a coffee shop still requires a pleasing-looking storefront and a casual, friendly vibe inside, ideally with knowledgeable baristas who can quickly brew up a regular’s americano right away.
Obviously starting a coffee shop chain like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts is dreaming way too big to start (and requires trans sugar baby-level start-up money), so an independent, quirky cafe can be the best way to move forward. Charging a bit more per cup of coffee can be justified if it is clear that a bit more care is put into its preparation, but having locally made pastries and sweets can also help.
With other companies shedding office and floor space, you’ll find that many people will come in with laptops and spend plenty of time working in your shop, and while in some ways this takes up the space that another new customer might want, never discount the importance of having a store that looks full of people.
It certainly gives new customers the idea that you’re doing something right. Just make sure you have a very reliable internet connection (even if they spend their time just visiting a squirt gay site), otherwise, these long-term customers will flee like rats from a sinking ship.
People can certainly buy barbershop equipment on Amazon, but they can’t buy a haircut. They can try to give themselves a hot new style while looking in the bathroom mirror and trying to do everything reversed, but it won’t take long before they give up and march down the street to find a salon or barbershop to have it done right.
Salons and barbershops are not exactly having a renaissance, because they’ve always been around, but there is definitely more interest in them from entrepreneurs who might never have considered opening one in the past. What used to have a fairly straightforward and workmanlike set up is becoming much more complex, merging together other business models. Some barber shops will have a pub built into it so you can have a beer while waiting for your turn, and the stein will have tiny lids so you can even sip on your lager during the haircut itself. It can become a new hangout, a place for some serious Group Fun.
Hair salons are practically merging with spas and pedicure spots, offering a one-stop ‘new you’ shop. The digital world is still just a bunch of ones and zeroes, meaning people still need the hands of professionals to make their own physical bodies look exactly how they want.
Socks and sweatpants notwithstanding, buying clothes online is not really an option. Sure, there could be a wealth of difference sizes available, and plenty of online clothing retailers offers no-questions-asked returns (with free delivery) to keep customers happy, but no one wants to order clothes, wait for them to arrive, try them on and find out they don’t fit, send them back, and then wait yet again for a hopefully better fitting item to arrive. That length of time just doesn’t work when it comes to the cost/time-benefit analysis of a shirt.
A store where you can actually touch the fabric and see the different sizes and then try it on right away just can’t compete with the internet just yet. Like the same issue with coffee shops, suddenly becoming the next H&M will require a lot of luck and even more venture capitalist money, so the best way to dive into this industry is to sell clothing that has already been around. Not long ago the secondhand clothing industry was looked down upon, but now that it’s been rebranded as vintage (with many experts explaining why the public is enamoured with it), entrepreneurs with even a hint of style sense can find items that they can flip for a good profit.
But Have An Online Presence, Too!
For all we’ve said about how you can beat the internet at its own game, you’d be a fool to ignore the one thing it can certainly help you with: Promotion. Even if you have a store on a busy street, you will absolutely have to spend plenty of time (and some money) on social media to make sure that people all over the neighbourhood know that your store exists. A daily morning post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is practically essential to keep your business in people’s minds.