Every Company Is An Internet Company

There’s a question I hear over and over again when I introduce our relatively young and small business to someone for the first time: “Neat…so are you like, an internet company?”

I’ve never been really keen to this question because I’m not exactly sure what it’s asking. After reflecting on it a bit, however, I came to a very clear answer: Every company, including yours and certainly mine, is an internet company – there is no such thing as a non-internet company anymore.

What does this really mean? There was a time – and I certainly remember it – when some companies existed primarily online, and others existed primarily in “brick and mortar”. Amazon is a prime and early example of the “internet company”. On the opposite end, your local car mechanic was a distinctly non-internet company – he had his garage, and that was about it.

But between 2004 and now, a lot of things happened that made every single company an internet company, whether they liked it or not: the iPhone, Yelp, Google Local Search, the ubiquity of blogging, Twitter…the list goes on. Now you are no longer an internet company by choice – the only choice you have is whether to participate in the conversation. Your local garage has Yelp reviews, and probably a Google Local listing. The dry cleaners down the street may be getting destroyed by an angry customer on Facebook. These companies may not have a website, and they may not do any e-commerce at all, but that doesn’t exclude them anymore from the class of “internet company”.

So yes, my company is an “internet company” – whatever that means anymore – but so is yours. Here’s the rub: are you engaging and participating in the conversation people are already having about you online, or do you really still believe your company only exists in brick and mortar?

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