If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve considered starting an online business at some point in the past. Perhaps you’ve even started one already. It could be as straightforward as joining an affiliate network program or starting an eBay store. It can also be as complicated as designing and manufacturing an entirely new product or starting a software company.
No matter what path you’re currently on, you’ve likely spent many hours on the Internet researching the competition, looking for the right suppliers, buying your domain and tweaking your website design. You’ve also probably spent hours being distracted by online advertisements, irrelevant articles, social media and mindless videos.
While online connectivity may be exciting and appear crucial to planning out and growing your business, I would argue that being so attached to this global network actually diminishes the overall quality of your work and reduces the likelihood of your success.
In fact, in the early stages of business planning and development, there are at least five reasons why turning off the Internet and sitting down with an old fashioned pen and paper will actually lead to better business results.
Below I’ve outlined five of the most important reasons why disconnecting can lead to better business in the long run:
1. It jump-starts your creative side
The Internet is an amazing tool. It let’s us connect with people and things and ideas in an instant, from anywhere in the world. The creation of this interconnected information-sharing network has become one of our greatest accomplishments as a species, but it has also become one of our biggest weaknesses. The ability to find out the answer to any question with one Google search, or to distract ourselves from boredom with the push of a button, makes working out creative solutions to challenging problems unnecessary.
By turning off the Internet for an hour, or an afternoon, you will immediately start to regain control of your creative side. You will become aware of how much time you used to spend surfing the Internet to alleviate boredom or find the easiest solutions to your problems. You will then look for ways to fill that time.
I urge you not to go back online, but to see how productive ways can channel that energy. Meditate. Write down daily goals. Plan for the week ahead. Go for a run. Whatever you do, make it your own, and don’t rehash the thoughts and feelings you see being overshared online.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce
2. It lets you connect with your customer
Another huge benefit to turning off the Internet and stepping away from the hive of like-minded people you find online is that it lets you connect with new potential customers in the real world.
Sure, conducting market research for your next project by creating a Leadpage or Launchrock site will help you gauge interest of potential customers online within a certain group, but by speaking with real people “in the street” about what inspires them or what problems they are facing on a day-to-day basis will help you build a deeper understanding of your target audience and develop a better service for your customers.
You may even be able to get ideas from people outside of your target demographic by speaking with people “adjacent demographics” – people you would normally never interact with online. This might seem obvious to some of you that read this, but I’m constantly shocked by how many people I see going through life unaware of what is going on right in front of their noses.
I see them walking from place to place with their headphones in and their smartphones out, oblivious to the amazing opportunities to connect with people and provide real value to those around them. Unhook, unplug, and ask one person a day about something that matters to them.
3. It makes you plan ahead
If you have the intention of starting an online business, unplugging from the Internet is perhaps the best way to start to develop a successful plan for starting and launching one profitably. More than 9 of 10 startups fail in their first year of business.
When you unplug from the Internet, either by turning off your wifi router (as I did just now to finish this post), or sit down with a pen and a pad of paper, you immediately cut off distractions and pop-ups that get in the way of doing deep work.
Setting aside a block of time of at least 2-3 hours of “deep work” per week (at the very least) that is focused on completing one strategic task or goal is crucial to the successful development of any business, online or in an office. The more frequently you are able to cut out distractions, the more you will be able to produce quality results for your business.
4. It forces you to start small
In business, you are either selling a product or delivering a service. You typically sell that product or service to another business (B2B) or to a consumer (B2C). The basics for every business are the same, but it is how you use the tools at your disposal that determines whether you will be successful or not.
Often, entrepreneurs face what is called “analysis paralysis” when attempting to build a new online product or service. The Internet marketplace is so large that they don’t know where to go first. Whose problem will I solve? How will my product be better than my competitions’? What industry trends will I capitalize on?
Stepping away from the Internet simplifies things, and it makes you think hard about what you do best and how you can deliver that to someone, anyone, who is willing to pay for it.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
5. It drives you to take action
More important than anything else, unplugging from the Internet will force you to flex your action muscle. When you take a step back from the continuous stimulation of social media, online advertisements and entertainment, you will realize that the only thing that will help you get what you want is immediate action.
How has unplugging from the online world helped you with your business? Leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com