Have you ever noticed how transient the Internet can sometimes seem? Websites you visit regularly are suddenly gone. Products you purchased last year now appear out of date. New technology becomes available almost every single day- or maybe even multiple times in one single day.
On one hand, the rate of innovation is astonishing, and exciting. Without trying to sound too old, it’s pretty amazing me to how much we can do online now, compared to when I first began using the Internet, back in 1998. Just for instance- back then, it was cost-prohibitive to stream a few minutes of audio or a few minutes of video. Now we have a site like Youtube, which streams content for free, all day, everyday. There are so many new ways to reach our audience and to build relationships with them. It can be very energizing.
On the other hand, though, the rate of change on the internet can also be very frustrating. This came up in a coaching call I had earlier today; in which my client (who is in the early stages of building her online business), was feeling frustrated about all the technology, and how difficult it seemed to integrate. I remember feeling the same frustration some years ago- where I was trying to hack together systems, but didn’t know enough to be effective- but knew just enough to be dangerous.
When you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s very difficult to find it. And then, even when you find it, it can be an impermanent solution. This is the frustrating transience of the Internet. And this is why, too, it’s important to remember that the basic foundation of building a business is the same whether you do it online or offline- just the tools are different- not the basic strategy.
This is also why it’s important to have a clear business strategy before you start working with tools. The tools can never replace strategic understanding; and this is a mistake that many new entrepreneurs make. They study a social media platform, for instance, to learn how it works- without understanding first, clearly, what outcome they are seeking.
You always want to begin with the why and the what; and then, move to the how. Strategy is the why and the what; tools/technology is the how.
Remembering your core business strategy and reason for being in business is helpful on days where the technology falls apart or you can’t even get it moving in the right direction. The longer I work online, the clearer it becomes to me that simplicity trumps complexity. Always seek the simplest way to reach your desired outcome, and try to use as few pieces of technology as possible.
When you over-rely on technology, or passing fads, you run the risk of building your business on an unstable foundation; one that will change as quickly as the Internet changes. If you’re feeling frustrated by your online business- whether that be because it seems too difficult, is growing too slowly, or seems complicated to run, I’d invite you to take a step back and review your business strategy.
I am reminded almost everyday that it takes less of everything than I think to create the outcomes I want to create. Two meaningful conversations can result in new clients, in a way that 100 emails may never do. One in-person meeting can generate more opportunities than 10 blog posts ever may. This is because, at the core, we’re all seeking connection. And we can connect whether we have a Facebook page (or not), a Youtube channel (or not), or a blog (or not).
If you remember that technology is only about making the connecting easier; it may help on those days when it feels like everything is changing and things aren’t working like they should. On these days, step back and use the old-fashioned methods- meeting in person, picking up the phone, or writing a handwritten note.
The transience of the Internet won’t seem as troublesome anymore.