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The Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Business Ideas

By Lars Lofgren

Traditional business ideas can feel like the ideas of yesteryear, making them harder to engage with and use in the rapidly developing digital business world. Where do you even begin?

The good news is that most of these ideas have stood the test of time—they’re not as hard to engage with as you might think, and modern-day tools can take them to the next level.

In our guide, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about traditional business ideas so you can start the business of your dreams.

What Are Traditional Business Ideas?

Traditional business ideas are business ideas that involve a more classic, time-honored business setup. These ideas are reliable and are less likely to go wrong because they have worked for years before. An example here would be a brick-and-mortar store that serves local people by selling products and services physically. Other examples include restaurants, manufacturers, and retailers. These are in contrast to more trendy digital business ideas such as Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook.

The Basics of Traditional Business Ideas

Below we’ve listed the basics of traditional business ideas to help get you started.

Business Models

There are several types of traditional business models, including manufacturer, retailer, distributor, and franchise.

The manufacturer model is where a business uses raw materials to create new products sold to the market. A retailer is where a company purchases products from a wholesaler and then sells this inventory to the public—essentially brick-and-mortar stores.

The distributor model sees a company buy products directly from a manufacturer and then sell them to retailers or consumers themselves. Finally, the franchise model is where a company buys the franchise of a successful brand and promotes the services.

These models are important as they each provide a unique part of the process, so knowing which to go for is an immediate decision for new businesses to make. Traditional business models get improved by using modern technology to bolster them, as we’ll see later.

Distribution

Traditional business models, such as retailers and wholesalers, are involved in the physical distribution of goods from one point to another.

This fact is in stark contrast to more modern business ideas, for example, Netflix, Dropbox, and Spotify; these all fall under the term known as software as a service (SaaS). Nothing needs to be “moved” around in these modern business ideas, and all of them rely on transactions made through the internet alone.

The method of distribution is fundamental to how the business operates and sells its goods. However, that doesn’t automatically mean there’s no room for traditional business ideas. Instead, today’s conventional business ideas get improved in a hybrid approach that combines reliable ideas with technological progress.

Cost

Modern businesses tend to have fewer overhead costs as more traditional companies do. People involved with traditional business plans will typically decide on a good location to set up and then rent out the place to sell goods.

Digital businesses avoid much of this because they usually don’t need a physical site to sell their products—although this isn’t always the case.

Cost is a hugely important factor for businesses, and some great ideas never get realized due to the high kick-off expenses involved. Again, this is where contemporary solutions can improve traditional business ideas, as we’ll see in the next section.

Four Tools To Improve Traditional Business Ideas

Here are four tools to improve traditional business ideas and supercharge your plans.

Roambi

Roambi is a powerful analytics tool that allows traditional businesses to level up their game. The tool enables you to visualize and share vital data with ease. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, you’ll be able to make key decisions based on the analysis provided. Mobile real-time reports help you understand where you can improve your production processes and boost their overall efficiency. It’s a production manager’s dream.

Roambi comes in three pricing plans: Starter, which costs $10 per user per month, Business which costs $39 per user per month and Enterprise, which costs $59 per user per month. Each tier offers more features and is suited to differing company sizes, going up to enterprise-level solutions. You’ll be able to try Roambi for 30 days with included RW Consulting support to analyze your business data.

Stripe

Stripe is cloud-based payment processing software that can help traditional businesses of all shapes and sizes. These days, almost all retailers will have their own website, and Stripe enables you to process payments, invoices and use a multichannel approach. For instance, a customer could reserve something online via your site using Stripe and then pick it up in-store, all connected to the same unified system.

Essentially, a solution like Stripe Terminal helps you unite your online and offline channels and is a must for businesses that need to stay ahead of the game—all of them. Stripe comes in two distinct tiers, Integrated and Customized. Integrated comes in at 2.9% of a purchase plus 30¢ per successful card charge and includes the essentials. Customized pricing is separate, and you’ll need to contact Stripe for a custom quote—it’s ideal for businesses with large payment volumes.

Lightspeed

Lightspeed is retail management software that can help streamline your transaction processing and improve inventory management. You’ll be able to control promotions and minimize your data collection errors using the software. For example, sports stores will benefit significantly from the inventory management system available, allowing you to sync your stock across various channels. You can also view, edit, and organize your shipments wherever you are.

There are four main plans available for Lightspeed: Lean, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. Lean comes in at $69 per month on the annual plan, Standard $119 per month, and Advanced $199 per month. You’ll need to get a custom quote for the Enterprise tier, which includes everything in Advanced along with a dedicated premium support team, a customer success manager, and unlimited personalized onboarding and launch services.

Eposnow

Eposnow is retail customer relationship management (CRM) software that enables you to improve your customer service, build lasting wholesales relationships, and make more effective use of your time. For example, an electronics store can reduce its operating costs, streamline its business, and open new sales channels using the software alone. What we’re talking about here is both an online and offline solution.

The entire point of sale (POS) solution that Eposnow offers typically comes in at $999 and $72 per month, but right now, you can get it for $449 upfront and just $39 a month. Other solutions are available for face-to-face sales, including a pocket handheld system for $189 and dedicated tablet systems starting at $599—the latter covers both Android and iPad. It’s a unified and smart solution, so if you can afford it, your customers will thank you.

Four Tricks for Making Traditional Business Ideas Work

Here are four tricks for traditional business ideas, enabling you to improve your game.

Understand the Problem Your Business Solves

You may be right at the start of your traditional business idea, but as all successful businesses know, your company needs to be about solving a problem. If you don’t solve a problem for customers, then you don’t have a business. So you need to have a solid understanding of the area you want to focus on and how your business can help.

For example, if you’re a restaurant, the problem might be that there’s no good Italian food in your neighborhood, that is until you show up and offer a solution.

It might surprise you to know that many businesses forget to think about this central problem in the level of detail required, and they fail as a result. Do your best to understand your customers and how your business improves their lives, and you’ll have a successful business in waiting.

Join Search Engine Land’s Email List

You might be a bit further down the line and already have a great business setup. The issue traditional businesses often face is learning how to market their business online. Regardless of what industry you’re in, you need a digital presence but may not have the skills or knowledge to get online.

Well, Search Engine Land is the answer here. It’s a site covering all the critical marketing angles, from digital marketing to new marketing technology and advertising models. By simply signing up for the email list, you’ll receive daily news comprising the latest marketing trends and feature announcements.

You can stay on top of the latest digital trends, learn new tips, and reinforce your business. It takes less than a minute to sign up, while the benefits of getting those tips and trends delivered straight to your inbox could last for years.

Join a Social Media Marketing Email List

We’re not done with email lists just yet. Other invaluable lists you can join include Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner. As you would expect, the pair of these cover the expansive world of social media—a world, like it or not, that you need to do well in to stay relevant.

Social media can grow your customers, provide you with reviews, and increase the all-important awareness around your company. You might be busy most of the day working in your restaurant or shop, but by signing up for an email list, the latest trends and tips come straight to you, ready for when you finish. Even better, you can share what you’ve learned with your team, and the effect multiplies.

The most successful traditional businesses realize that embracing the sometimes-scary online world isn’t optional, so get started while you can.

Invest in Digital Advertising

Did you know online advertising can significantly boost your traditional business’s online presence? Consumers are spending more and more time online, so reaching them there is essential. It doesn’t take long to get up and running with digital advertising, and how much you want to spend is mainly up to you.

Digital advertising comes in many forms, including pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns with Google Ads and media advertising on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. For example, on Facebook, you can market and boost your company page and blog posts, driving more customers to your traditional business.

With the immense growth in mobile traffic, mobile ads are vital in getting your fledgling business noticed and customers engaged with the brand.

Mobile ads come in various forms, with distinct formats like video ads that drive new customers to your door. A typical mobile video ad only runs for around 15 or 30 seconds when a user taps to play it, and they don’t have to break the bank. It’s also important to ensure your site is mobile-optimized, but’s that a matter for another day.

What To Do Next

There are plenty of topics to dive into from here and an almost endless number of things to learn, especially if you’re just getting started. In fact, you should always ensure you’re learning something new each month because as you learn, your business will grow in response—the most successful business leaders in the world still learn new things every week.

If you haven’t got a website up and running for your business, now would be the time to do so. Our comprehensive guide on creating a website covers everything you need to know, including picking the perfect domain and creating compelling content. It’s not something any business can afford to skip today, so the sooner you know what you’re doing, the better.

You may be further back from that and still need to come up with a viable business plan. If so, we have a second guide that focuses on how to write a business plan for your start-up. The guide covers market research, sales strategy, executive summaries, budgets, company descriptions, and more. Writing your business plan gives you a much better understanding of your business, increases your chances of success, and you’ll see higher growth rates too.

Traditional business ideas thrive when you combine them with modern tools and software, so as long as you remember that, stay focused, and continue learning, the sky’s the limit.

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