Does My Small Business Need A Website?
In my role as a reviewer, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the useful features of various specific website builders. It occurs to me, though, that I haven’t written anything directed at small business owners explaining why they might want to build a website for their businesses.
For the kid just getting out of college and trying to make it in the business world, the answers to this question might seem self-evident. However, the majority of small business owners out there were not raised in the cult of the internet. Many such people, by necessity, spend more time balancing the books than reading up on the latest web marketing trends. Others may be in industries where the benefits of being online aren’t as readily apparent as in other fields. And, of course, there are still a few of you who are simply reluctant to get into the tech side of things.
Well, I’m here to tell you that any business that wants to maintain and grow its market share in the 21st century (and in all subsequent centuries, presumably) absolutely must have an online presence of one kind or another.
Why? Let us count the ways.
Table of Contents
When looking for a business or a service provider in a particular industry, most people conduct their search right here on the good ol’ World Wide Web. This is true today and is only going to become more true with every passing day that flutters by, propelled by the sails of lost profits
If your small business doesn’t have a website, you’re ceding the online space to your competitors. Most especially for those under 40 (though increasingly for every conceivable demographic), if you’re not online, you’re out of sight, and therefore out of mind. Given the relatively small investment required to get online with a website builder, there is no conceivable reason to surrender the online battlefield to the competition. Ultimately, the visibility will more than cover the cost of your website’s existence.
You may have been able to get away with ignoring the benefits of web traffic in 1998. That’s just not the case today.
A lack of a website doesn’t just passively hurt you by denying you the attention you would otherwise receive if you had a website. It may well be actively hurting you. When potential customers — the younger ones in particular — try Googling your company’s name (assuming they discovered it via analog means) to get more information and discover that you have no website, they’re going to assume the worst about you; that you’re not a relevant concern in 2017. It is an active statement of fecklessness at this point. You may care about your business, but people are going to assume the opposite if they think your business is unwilling or incapable of establishing itself online.
Let your potential clients know that you care about and are invested in future success. Build a website.
3. Direct Communication
An obvious benefit of having a website is that it provides you with a direct means of communicating with customers, current and potential.
Besides chatting with your customers one-on-one via email, you can also start a blog to get your word out to everyone collectively and allow comments to get direct feedback. More ambitiously, you could set up a message board or online forum in which people could discuss your company and interface with you publicly. It’s good to personalize your small business – remind people that they’re dealing with an actual human being with cares and concerns, not a faceless entity fronted by some corporate bot. Allow some personality to shine through. (Unless your personality is terrible.)
4. Incentivize Walk-In Traffic
If you have a store that attracts a good amount of walk-in business, it may not be immediately obvious to you how a website could boost your fortunes. That may be because you’re thinking of a website like an online billboard. In reality, there’s a great deal more you can do with your website than just advertise your existence.
Why not offer people coupons on your website, redeemable in store?
With your own website, you can incentivise people to frequent your business. You can sign your would-be customers up to a mailing list in which you print your latest sales and deals. Offer people a special coupon if they post a review of your establishment online. You could quiz people as to what they’d like to see more of in your shop — this can be done with form builder widgets offered by the better website builders. You could even offer a service in which people order a product from your catalog online and pick it up in-store.
There’s a lot you can do to stimulate business with your website, and most of it can be done with intuitive website builder tools.
5. Target A Wider Market By Selling Online
When you’re operating a brick-and-mortar store, you’re obviously limited to selling to people within a certain geographical range of your, well, bricks and mortar. When you’re not taking advantage of the possibility of selling goods online, you’re leaving out 99% of your potential clientele.
Why not address the niche segment of the market known as “almost everybody” by establishing an online store? Just about anything can be sold online. Expand your range and broaden your business horizons: build an eCommerce website.
6. Additional Revenue Streams
You may think of a business website as a way to enhance in-store profits. However, you can also generate revenue through your website itself.
It so happens that I wrote an article dealing with website monetization. In it, I discuss 17 ways to make money off your web traffic. You can sell advertising space on your site, either via Google AdSense or by selling space directly to advertisers. Build a subscription website that charges people for the ability to access premium content. Offer your consulting services online via Skype or Google Hangouts. You could even launch and host a podcast dealing with the intricacies of your industry.
I’m not saying you need to do all of these things. You’ve got a business to run, after all. But consider the possibilities. Building a website and then monetizing it is one of the few ways to cultivate a revenue stream that requires a relatively small investment. It’s good business.
Deep down, in your heart of hearts, you know that the solemn march of modernity pauses for no plucky entrepreneur. Building a website may not be foremost on your mind, given the relentless daily pressures of the grind. But without a website, you’re simply handicapping yourself for the benefit of saving $100-$300 per year. At the risk of sounding like Mary Poppins, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. With all the user-friendly, streamlined website builders out there competing for your attention, there’s never been an easier time to get your small business online. Check out my website builder reviews, then pull the trigger and do what must be done.
The gods of the new world need appeasing. Establish a business website of your own and open yourself up to the world of tomorrow.
(By which I mean make more money.)