At one level all businesses are the same – they sell something to people who want to buy from them, while trying to make an honest buck along the way. At another level many very different types of business and ways of doing business exist, even within what superficially can appear to be very similar fields.
Selling to other businesses
Business-to-business (B2B) enterprises, such as those selling market research, database management, corporate clothing, management consultancy, telemarketing or graphic design, involve one businessperson selling to another. The attractions are that you’re dealing with other people who have a definite need and usually buy in relative large quantities and at regular intervals. For example, an individual may buy envelopes in packs of a dozen a few times a year, but a business buys scores, perhaps even thousands, and puts in an order every month.
Corporate customers are harder to win, but are often worth more when you have them. And unlike private individuals, businesses like to forge relationships that endure over time. Some downsides exist too. Business customers expect credit, perhaps taking between 60 and 90 days to pay up. If they go bust they may owe a lot of money and take some of their suppliers down with them. You may have to attend exhibitions to make your presence known, a costly and time-consuming process, or advertise in trade directories
Opening all hours
Conventional shops, restaurants and the like have long opening hours and have to meet the expectations of increasingly savvy consumers, whose access to the Internet has made them aware of competitive prices as well as high specifications and standards of service. The upside of any form of retailing is that you’re almost invariably paid up front. But just because you get the cash in your hand doesn’t mean that you don’t have to meet exacting standards. Customers are protected in their dealings in a myriad of ways and if you fall short of their legal entitlement you can end up with a bigger bill than a simple cash refund
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