April 10, 2019
Blue Corona and CNBC estimate that around 45 to 50 percent of small businesses lack a website. Considering that the Small Business Administration defines 99.7 percent of all businesses as “small,” that’s a lot of businesses.
For the most part, small businesses without a website are truly small – what we’ve always called mom-and-pop shops. But interestingly, they are the businesses that really need a website and could reap the greatest benefits from having one.
There are strong arguments for a small business to have its own website. Here are a few:
1. A website is the new Yellow Pages — and much more.
No one looks in the phone book for phone numbers anymore. That’s what smartphones and laptops are for. A website that has been optimized for search (SEO) will bring customers to you. And once they are on your website, you can give them so much more than an address and a phone number. In the course of a 2-minute visit to a small business website, customers might find a map that shows where the business is located, a company history, lists of products and services, contact forms, coupons, staff emails and direct phone numbers or blogs. Half of the consumers who search for a local business on a smartphone visit the store within a day.
2. A website keeps a business open and available 24/7.
Most small businesses aren’t open around the clock but a website allows them to do so without having to spend money on staff. Features like a contact page, let customers reach out after hours with questions and requests. Some small businesses even include forms for scheduling service or appointments. A website can be a place where customers or potential customers order products, learn more about your company or download a special offer or coupon.
3. A website is a tax-deductible business expense that pays for itself.
Many small businesses think a website will cost too much to design and maintain. The cost of design will be the biggest investment, but this tax-deductible business expense can pay for itself in a short time if it includes sales mechanisms or reduces time staff spends answering questions. After a website is created, site maintenance is a minimal expense.
4. A website is yours; social media sites are run by someone else’s rules.
How many friends have told you they are shutting down their Facebook account because of privacy concerns? Facebook has its place, and most companies benefit from having a Facebook page, but it is no substitute for a website: a website is not subject to Facebook’s whims and changes. Your information is safe and secure, which isn’t always the case with information with social media sites. Consider the recent lesson many musicians learned when My Space admitted it had lost all the music its users had stored on their pages. Having a website allows a small business to develop their image and brand.
5. A website assures that your business is professional.
Without a website, your company looks, well, not so professional. A recent story underscores that fact: a writer who had applied to rent a house for his family was denied the rental because the rental manager discovered that the writer did not have a website and wondered if he could really be making $9,000 a month. A bank or other lender might have the same question about a small business that comes seeking a loan for expansion or other needed business expense.
You can design your own website, but should you?
Software programs make it fairly easy for someone with minimal technical skills to build a website. But before plunging into such a project, it’s wise to ask, should I? Do I have hours to devote to this task? Would my time be better spent concentrating on sales, product development or customer service issues?
There are a number of advantages to using a professional website designer for a small business site. They include:
- A professional will be up on the latest software and features that make a website operate fast and efficiently. They will also make sure your website has responsive design ensuring it works well on mobile, which is key since most people are using their smartphones to search. Given that users are an impatient lot, it is important to have a website that is easy to navigate and performs well in Google searches. We hear this mantra over and over–it’s better to not have a web site at all than to have one that looks antiquated or gives users headaches.
- You won’t have to spend as much time developing the website. When we design a website, we meet with the client several times — first to determine their needs and wants. Often, we point out valuable features that they might not even know about. We ask them to show us websites they like, especially those of their competitors or of businesses they aspire to emulate. Then, we ask them to provide us with photos, logos, and content in digital form and we go to work on a rough draft of their design. At regular intervals, we meet with clients to show them the design and features we have created and get feedback. Over the course of time–typically a couple of months–we tweak the website and test it. When the client is satisfied, the website goes live, and we continue to monitor how it is working and whether adjustments are needed.
If your small business needs a website, or if you have a website that’s outdated and needs a professional makeover, give us a call!
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