Old-Fashioned Business in a Modern World


Don’t let the Starbucks full of laptops, iPads, and smartphones fool you. Things really haven’t changed all that much. At least not the important things.

Family, friends, community, faith, and the all-important Venti Iced Coffee all remain pretty much the same. As does the 100 degree/100 percent humidity Florida summer I’ve lovingly endured for the past 30-ish years.

Well, maybe things have changed a little. I’ll give you that. But when it comes to doing business online, I think it helps to be reminded that the important things aren’t all that different than they were ten, twenty, or fifty years ago.

Success Still Requires Customers

No matter what corner of the online world you call home, the success of your business will require customers. (if you’ve found a business that doesn’t, please do tell)

Customers are people and have always been driven by the same things.

  • Needs (new shoes)
  • Wants (PRETTY new shoes)
  • Social Triggers (THOSE new shoes)
  • Emotions (MORE new shoes)
  • Deals (BOGO new shoes!!!)
  • Scarcity (what if they stop making new shoes… gasp!)

I’m no psychology of buying expert, but you get the idea. The things that make people buy haven’t changed, like ever.

The Tools Have Changed – And They Can Mess You Up

What has changed is the where and how of commerce. Rather than talking in-person with customers, we talk online. Rather than giving people the opportunity to pick-up, hold, and touch our products, we give them pictures and written descriptions.

The “where” is now the Internet and the “how” is by use of new tools.

  • Social Media
  • eMail
  • Etsy
  • Websites
  • Mobile
  • etc.

When you see all these new tools and everything happening in a new place, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that everything is new.

That can be a big huge mistake. Everything is not new. The most important things in business have not changed at all and remembering that is a key to successful selling online.

Imagine Your Shop Circa 1950

Try this quick trick to start your week focused on the right things. Do a little mental yoga and stretch your imagination a bit. Imagine your business as a real brick-and-mortar shop on Main Street in 1950.

How do you get customers in the door?

What do you have to offer for sale?

Is your store empty or full (of products)?

Is it bright and beautiful or drab and dark?

What is your sales pitch? What do you say to the customers who come in?

How will you maintain a relationship with your customer after they leave?

I do this pretty often myself and it never fails to help me figure out what to do next. What can cause confusion, on the other hand, are those new tools.

Too many emails, too much time reading forums or blogs, too much looking at stats… it’s all just too much and it takes me away from what I ought to be doing and sometimes leaves my mind so jumbled I can’t figure out what to do even after I walk away.

So be careful of the new tools and the new venue. Don’t let them fool you into thinking everything has changed, and don’t let them steal your valuable working time.

The Good News

The awesome news is that you have some wonderful advantages over that 1950’s version of yourself so when you focus on the right things, your results might be better than you would have ever dreamed of selling on Main Street.

If you answer those questions again and again until you get the entire experience just right, you aren’t limited by the number of people who happen to be on Main Street at the moment. In fact, you’re not limited by much at all. The world is open to you thanks to the Internet.

So I’m hoping for a great week and a great summer of growth, only partially fueled by Venti Iced Coffees. I hope the same happens for you!

~ Kim

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


  1. says

    Wow this is a fantastic way of looking at the change in time. People are still the same, just go about shopping a bit differently… and it’s much easier to get a high volume of customers ‘in the door’ with this crazy social media we have now! Great stuff! Thanks 😉

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