Many small business owners still believe that a website is something only needed by large companies. This may have been true at some point but is certainly not any longer.
First of all, let’s examine the benefits of having a website.
- Your website is where you showcase your business to the outside world.
- Even a very simple website can give you a more professional appearance and thus far greater credibility. . Having your own domain name allows you to have email addresses linked to that name. So, for example, for your business email address you could have ‘info[at]yourbusinessname.com’ instead of ‘yourbusinessname[at]gmail.com’ , thereby further enhancing your professional image.
- It makes it much easier for customers to find you – many people do online research before buying goods or services. If you don’t have a website, your business won’t even be considered. On the other hand, if you do have a website, you are able to compete with much bigger companies – the size of the company does not generally affect search results. A good web design and judicious use of relevant keywords in the content is what makes the difference.
- Your competitors may already have websites. If they do, they have a definite advantage over you. If they don’t, you should consider getting yours first and making sure that your business has the advantage.
- You have absolute control of your brand and content.
- You can interact with your customers and potential customers.
- It’s much easier to keep up to date than having a new advertising campaign every time there’s a change.
- It’s more cost effective. There’s generally a one-time charge for the Web Design and development and a small ongoing fee for hosting and domain name registration. Compare this to the cost for new advertising campaigns and you should come out well ahead.
Some common reasons given for holding back on getting a website:
- You may already have plenty of customers so think that you don’t need a website. A website is about so much more than reaching new customers. It could be a valuable means of saving you time – usually a precious commodity for small business owners. A well designed contact page could allow your customers to interact with you, saving you time you would normally spend on the phone answering queries.
- You think your business is too small and there is no budget for a website. A website doesn’t have to be big and fancy. It can be quite simple and still be very effective.
- You think your customers aren’t computer users and that they would never interact with your website. As most people have a smartphone these days, this is definitely no longer true. Anyone with a smartphone can access your website.
- Yours is not an online business so there’s no need for a website. The advantages of controlling branding and communication are great enough to dispel this argument. Traditional advertising campaigns are becoming more expensive even if they are restricted to your local area. They are also typically restricted to a specific demographic. Your website gives you the ability to promote your business however and whenever you like and your reach is far greater.
- You may already be using social media. That’s good but it’s quite volatile and is out of your control. There are new platforms appearing and you can’t control where your customers spend their time. You may have a solid presence on Facebook, but if your potential customers are spending their time on Snapchat, you’ve lost them.
You will probably end up duplicating your efforts on several different platforms and this could lead to conflicting messages. Trying to keep them all relevant and up to date will take a significant amount of time. In contrast to this, having your own website affords you complete control as well as being able to link in to all your social media profiles and add new ones as they come along.
For many small business owners, the perceived cost of having a website is often seen as prohibitive.
This need not be the case as you could have a very simple design. The essentials are who you are, your offering, and how to contact you. Some detail about your hours of business and how to find you is also helpful. It’s also very useful to allow your website visitors to enter their email address. You will then be able to stay in touch with them by sending a newsletter, special offers, etc.
There is software (some of it free) available that you could use to design and build your own website. While this could save you money in the short term, it may work out more expensive in the long run as a professional Web Designer will not only help you with your web design but also help you avoid some common mistakes that are costly to correct later.
Simply discussing your requirements with an experienced Web Designer will help to clarify what features you really need and what you can leave for later. If designed correctly from the beginning, it should be quite easy to add new features to your website later.
An experienced Web Designer will also know about disclaimers, privacy policies and other basic legal requirements for your website. It’s far better to find out about those upfront than it is to fall foul of the legislation.
There are many excellent Web Design Service Providers. When searching for one, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask to see their portfolio to make sure that you like the kind of work they do before you engage their services. You can use their own website as an indication of what they can do. You should also find out about the range of services they offer. For example, apart from the design and development, they may take care of your domain name registration and website hosting for you.
You will probably find that the price of your website including design, hosting and domain name registration is actually far less than the cost of not having a website, especially if you are able to put a value to all the advantages it brings you.
Good Luck !