When you run a brick and mortar business, you can't be all things to all people. You're confined by geography, time, space, and labor. Until the age of the Internet, it was rare to find a competent one-stop shop. Even then, most of those were run by retail giants with millions of dollars and thousands of employees backing it up.
Then, along came the Internet, and with it the World Wide Web, and eventually e-commerce. This made it possible to provide a customer with more services, since goods could be shipped from nearly anywhere. It negated the need for hands-on inventory, and any basic storefront could be the middleman for any number of suppliers.
What does this mean for the average small Internet business owner? You have an expansive power over your local retail and service providers in that you have the ability to connect customers with goods that you've never seen, don't supply, and aren't near you.
How can you leverage this? Online there are three major ways you can accomplish this.
If you do web design or copywriting, or another related service, you can outsource some of your work by finding someone to do a portion for you. This could be a service you don't usually offer or don't wish to offer. You can add the charge right to your clients’ bills as per your billing policy. This is a simple way to complete a project and wow your client without creating a long-term commitment or adding a service to your list.
Many small Internet-business owners create an agreement through which they serve each others’ clients. One will provide coaching services, for example, and if their clients need any goal achievement training, the other person will automatically be contracted to provide it. Likewise, if one has goal achievement class clients that want to expand their training, they will automatically be referred to the coach. Partnerships allow you to provide an additional service AND receive qualified prospects.
Affiliate programs are the least seamless for your client, and there aren't any guarantees that they will follow through with the sale, but the good news is that by now, most Internet users are used to purchasing items through affiliate programs, so they at least understand the concept. Affiliate programs are an entire beast of their own, and you can find a plethora of information online that will teach you how to set them up, how to track traffic and sales, and how to effectively promote them.
Basically, you refer your clients to another business or website and they make their purchase independently of their order and relationship with you. The business they purchase from then pays you a commission - either a percentage of sales or flat rate per sale. Affiliate programs have the potential to be highly profitable with the right quantity and quality of traffic. They do often require a lot of work to set up and maintain.
While as an independent small business owner you will still be somewhat limited as to how many services you can actually offer, the Internet opens up numerous possibilities that allow you to expand well beyond the capacities of a brick and mortar business. Take advantage of those opportunities, and maintain them wisely, and you'll “build" a successful, profitable business.
Kimberly Dawn Wells is a freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books in the areas of business and personal development. To find Kimberly's books, visit http://www.kimberlydawnwells.com . For more articles by Kimberly, visit http://www.k23enterprises.com/articles .