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Traditional or Digital? Growing your business

Has 2022 signalled the end of traditional businesses? There are some who would readily agree with this suggestion, while many others might yet beg to differ. I personally believe that it depends not only on the type of business, but also the prevailing internal and external factors that tend to influence business growth and development- in either direction.

For example, if you are operating a dine-in restaurant, then it stands to reason that you are likely seeking to preserve the status quo. You might want potential customers (local and overseas) to visit your establishment, have a meal and enjoy the experience (ambience and hospitality), with the hopeful expectation that they will have favourable remarks to make to others about the quality of food and calibre of service they would have received.

Yet, even in that arguably conventional setting, there are still avenues for incorporating technology into your day-to-day business operations. For example, using social media to expand the scope of your business outreach by highlighting: (i) images of the interior (and exterior) of the restaurant; (ii) new features such as a conference room, a children’s playroom, or an exclusive dining room; and (iii) photos of your offerings (particularly if there is a limited ‘meal deal’). Likewise, you can use digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, et cetera to share news of promotional items and discounts, engage in ‘real time’ conversations with your customers, and even advertise employment opportunities.

By contrast, if your business is along the lines of online retail in say, pre-packaged food and beverages, then you can operate that type of business with comparatively greater ease, as the very nature of that business affords you the option of running a ‘home-based’ enterprise. Nevertheless, even within that modern entity, there is still room for maintaining some of the traditional offerings of a business.

For example, some of your customers (regardless of age), might feel more comfortable making traditional payments by way of bank account deposit or bank manager’s cheque, as opposed to using the electronic options such as PayPal, online credit card payment, or utilizing online banking, et cetera. Furthermore, some might agree to business with you on condition that an established mailing address exists for your business, even if it is a P.O. Box/P.O. Bag address, or that they see you 'face-to-face'- even if 'only' on Zoom, Facetime or Google meets. Once again, it requires a mixture of flexibility, tactful strategy and getting a ‘feel’ of what your customers desire, or alternatively, require.

In our present world, I think that there is more room for the hybrid business than its comparative polar opposites, although there are likely many examples on either side which might ably prove that the contrary is true. Hybrid businesses offer their operators the flexibility, sustainability and currency of contemporary relevance to remain competitive, while enhancing their customer base and service. Likewise, such businesses would be equally beneficial to those customers who value their time and readily embrace technology.

Business growth in the 21st century is neither traditional nor digital. It’s destined to mix both.

Keywords: LinkedIn Local Caribbean, traditional, digital, customers, flexibility

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