What do successful web businesses and successful machine shops have in common?
You wouldn’t expect a website selling e-books or custom upholstery to have much in common with a machine shop, but there are certain aspects of successful business you’ll find almost anywhere. Often, owners of web businesses become overly enamored with the differences between their workspace and other businesses, and forget that there’s plenty to learn from traditional businesses, whether they be machine shops, cafes, or laundromats.
It likely goes without saying, but neither a website nor a machine shop can become successful without the right specialists. A single man or woman rarely holds up a successful machine shop single-handedly, unless the shop has a highly specific focus and the one-man show is willing to handle all the nuance of business alongside the technical minutia.
Similarly, you shouldn’t expect to make your web business thrive without appropriate expertise for web design, marketing, product development, and the other important tasks of your business. You should never spend an hour doing something poorly when a specialist could spend 5 minutes producing a better result. It’s just not efficient business, even if the gap between ‘SEO’ and ‘social marketing’ may not be as readily apparent as the gap between ‘welding’ and ‘logistics management’.
You wouldn’t expect a machine shop without appropriate welding equipment to get very far, but many online businesses expect to succeed with nothing more than hope and a business-oriented WordPress theme. The product and the tools to produce it aren’t the only tools you need to worry about, either. Consider a machine shop. It needs welding equipment and other tools of the trade, but it also needs various tools for communicating with customers, tools for logistics management, tools for keeping employees organized, tools for managing payroll.
It’s important to outfit your business with the tools necessary to multiply effort efficiently, so that you can deliver products and services comfortably, efficiently, and to the satisfaction of your customer. For a website, this means at bare minimum proper analytics toolsets and other equipment for understanding how people engage your site. It may also mean tools for marketing automation, tools for efficient social media engagement, tools for organizing paid advertisements.
A successful machine shop needs to be able to offer up clear value over its competitors quickly, often to customers who don’t understand the finer details of what they’re shopping for. Similarly, a web business that can’t quickly convince customers that it offers something worth their time in the vast sea of internet businesses won’t get very far.
For a machine shop, value often comes in the form of a portfolio of successful projects, referrals from relevant past customers, or strong warranties and guarantees on projects. For a web business, many of these same traits
In many cases, customers don’t know enough about the product they’re paying for the properly assess the technical details. In these cases, the customer’s first point of reference for the quality of the company isn’t going to be the product they receive; it’s going to be how they get that product.
The process of communicating, interacting, following up on problems, and getting into a habit for more efficient interactions plays a big role in the success of websites and machine shops alike. A welding team that doesn’t communicate clearly and quickly with customers to help them get what they’re after isn’t going to last long. A website that can’t guide visitors to the content they desire or the purchase they want to make similarly will fail.
Relationships matter more than immediate sales. A machine shop thrives on regular work from consistent customers. Your business should too.
If you build a site which grabs excited, uninformed prospects and pressures sales quickly, you may have moderate success. But you’ll never achieve what you could with a strong base of loyal customers singing your praises across the internet.
All of these may not apply to your business in particular, and that’s fine. But it’s always worthwhile to remember that a web business is a business like any other, even when it’s also wholly unique. Avoid easy wrong answers.