The question isn’t whether your small business needs a website, the real question is: why don’t you have one yet?
It may seem intuitive nowadays that all businesses, no matter how small, have their own website. After all, companies generally seek to use the power of the web to extend their reach into their respective markets, grow their brand identity and potentially increase their customer base.
According to a survey of small businesses with 500 or fewer employees from Top Design Firms (TDF), however, 28% of small businesses do not have a website, with 44% of those companies planning to create one in the next year.
Addressing Doubts About Websites
If you’re one of the many small business owners who are still reluctant about jumping into the internet, here are answers to some of your most common doubts:
I have a Facebook page, so why would I need a website too?
Social Media alone doesn’t cut it. One common myth among business owners is that simply having an account on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram is equivalent to having your own website. While a social media presence is certainly important, platforms such as FB or LinkedIn reach a limited audience and does not allow you to optimize your content. Furthermore, these platforms do not have a website address that would allow your website to appear in internet searches, thus causing you to miss out on potential customers.
I don’t believe a website will make a difference with the marketing of my business.
Consider the fact that print publications are now practically obsolete, as most people turn to their computers or smartphones for news. That’s how much the internet has become ingrained into our daily lives.
While TV commercials, print ads, and billboard marketing do still have their places, the world wide web is by far the most widely used medium when new and potential customers are seeking information on businesses. If you have a website, browsers can view your company’s mission statement, review your products and services, and stay up to date with your business’s new offerings with a stroke of the keyboard.
Also, a website could give you an advantage over your competitors in that customers can gain unique insights into what your company has to offer. To name a few examples, a construction firm can give virtual tours of its building sites, and a medical office can showcase new, patient technology or provide virtual appointments. In the restaurant industry, curbside-to-go became a new revenue stream during the pandemic and is likely here to stay, forcing restaurants to give their customers the option of viewing their menu and ordering and paying for their food online.
My business is too small to have a website, plus I’m already happy with the size of my customer base.
If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how established your business, your customer base can shrink – and quickly. Whether you’re a restaurant or small business services company, you’re always going to need a pool of new and potential customers. When potential customers come across your website, it gives your company instant credibility, ease of access, and potential business opportunities in places where you’d least expect.
“By building a website, users can easily find you with a quick web search and find more information about your business in order to make informed decisions on your products or services,” said Diane Sparacio, digital marketing specialist at marketing firm Wheels Up Collective.
A website costs too much.
Depending on what the purpose of your website will be, it can cost a little or a lot. If your goal is to simply promote your business, then low-cost, do-it-yourself services such as Wix.com, Network Solutions, or SQUARESPACE may be your answer.
These services provide you with website templates and solutions, graphics, traffic monitoring, and a domain name. With most of these services, all you have to do is enter your desired text and artwork into the template, and a visually appealing website will be created.
Be aware, however, that these sites often come with conditions. If you intend to generate revenue from your site, they may ask for a high percentage of that revenue, so carefully read the fine print.
If you are seeking to directly sell products or services or generate sales leads with your website, you should consider building your own site. This will require, however, a major investment, as purchasing a domain name, buying computer equipment, and hiring a web designer and programmer will cost you. You and your company’s leaders should sit down with your accountant or outside marketing firm and discuss potential financing, as well as forecast a return on investment for your website.
A Website takes too much time to maintain.
Like any other aspect of your business, you’ll get out of your site what you put into it. Creating new, compelling content for your website will require extra work for you, but will get you more exposure.
If you are serious in your commitment to delve into the online world, you may even consider hiring a creative content writer and search engine optimization (SEO) manager to help regularly refresh your site with content that will draw more traffic. According to the TDF survey, nearly half of small businesses have in-house employees to manage their site, and about one-third of them partner with an outside agency to manage their websites.
To put it simply, managing your business’ website will be another time-consuming chore for you, but the potential benefits are well worth the effort.
I don’t believe my website will attract new customers.
To the contrary, the internet is now the frontline for gaining new customers and new business. Even for local businesses such as an independent restaurant or retailer, a website would allow you to expand your reach by promoting discounts, sales, new merchandise and menu items. Consumers generally seek bargains, so when they read on your site that you are offering value deals, you could be reaching an entirely new base of potential customers.
“A website acts like an online shop window,” says Jasmine Savery, a digital marketer for web consulting firm Hydra Creative. “People all across the globe use the internet, meaning that by having a website, you can reach many more people than you could through traditional methods, such as leaflet drops or local press advertising. If you are a business that sells products, this could open up another huge revenue stream for you. It means you won’t be limited to selling your products or services in one area, or even just one country.”