What It’s Like to Run a Business Without High-Speed Internet
Running a business in the modern world isn’t easy without reliable internet access. It can be done, but it requires a lot of creativity and, oftentimes, a lot more work. Running a business in 2022 is nothing like what entrepreneurs did in 1982.
Despite the proliferation of high-speed internet, there are still tens of millions of Americans without access to it. Nearly all of them live in rural areas. But many of the same people either work remotely or run their own businesses. To do either with DSL or dial-up is painfully difficult.
Social Media Marketing
The yellow pages are long gone. Newspapers are quickly fading, and broadcast television enjoys an ever-shrinking audience. That leaves local businesses with few traditional options for marketing. No big deal if you have high-speed internet access. You can move your marketing primarily to social media.
Social media is where it’s at. Marketing through properties like Facebook and Instagram can pay off big. The same goes for maintaining your own website, posting regular blogs, etc. But if you are trying to do it all with DSL or dial-up, you are spending way too much time on marketing.
There are rural business owners who schedule time, every day, to go into town where they can do their marketing work from a coffee shop table. And if not the coffee shop, then the local library. Imagine having to run your business that way.
Processing Credit Cards
Because so much of business has gone online, consumers expect to be able to pay with credit cards no matter who they choose to do business with. This is another huge problem for rural business owners still operating on DSL or dial-up.
A dial-up credit card processor is painfully and embarrassingly slow. Running payments on DSL isn’t that much better. You can do it, but once again, you will spend way too much time on the task. Heaven forbid your connection is interrupted and you need to start over.
Providing Customer Support
Without access to high-speed internet, rural business owners really cannot offer live, online support. Their support options are limited to phone and email. Even at that, they might only be able to check email once or twice per day. They cannot respond to inquiries instantly because their email doesn’t reach them quickly enough.
A Few Options Exist
If there is any good news for rural Americans, it is that a few options do exist. The first is satellite internet. Companies like HughesNet provide high-speed internet by way of satellites and small dishes. It is doable, but satellite internet is subject to weather and other influences.
Next up is 4G rural internet. This is offered by companies like Blazing Hog. 4G rural internet works on the same technology as a 4G cell phone. In fact, they both use the exact same networks.
Above and beyond these two, the only other option is Elon Musk’s Starlink service. But with a startup cost of nearly $700, it’s really cost prohibitive. Starlink certainly isn’t stealing customers away from HughesNet and Blazing Hog.
It’s Hard to Compete
As you might imagine, it’s hard to compete in the business world if you don’t have high-speed internet. The world moves so much faster than it did 40 years ago. If a business cannot keep up, it has no other choice but to fall behind.
The realities of business are even more reason to find ways to get high-speed internet to rural America. The people who live in rural America continue to wait. Will they ever get the high-speed internet they need so badly?