I’m going to start this post off by saying… “I’m biased”, no surprise there, let’s just get it out there.
I believe that as a small business or organization, getting a website is the one of the first things you NEED to do, but yet I come across people all the time that run small businesses and have not done this for one or several different reasons. So I am going to attempt to hopefully shed some light on some of those and give you 5 reasons you need a website for your small business.
1. Without a website your small business is virtually invisible these days.
As a consumer, what’s the first thing you do when you want to research a product or find a local business? Right…you go on the Internet, you bring up Google and you search. Without a website you’re most likely not going to be showing up in anyone’s searches with a few exceptions. Geek Business published “Are You Really Invisible Without a Website” and then listed some bear-minimum steps to take if you are bent on absolutely not having a site. I would 100% agree with the author, if you own a business you should absolutely have a website, but if you do not…at least make sure you’re listed with Google Places, Facebook, etc. It’s 2012, people find things with the Internet! Sorry to offend you if you’re one of those few people who still use a phone book as your first means of search.
2. Gives you a chance to make a great first impression.
Your website is many times your customer’s first impression. What does yours say about you? Customers who find a site visually appealing, easy to navigate, and trustworthy are going to be more likely to want to purchase your products/services. The effort/resources you put into a professional site design will pay off down the road. A company without a website doesn’t have a brand or image and those go a long way in establishing customer loyalty. If you walk into a clean,tidy, professional storefront you’re going to be more likely to feel good about that business versus an unkempt,dirty, run-down storefront. The same goes for a website. As Entrepreneur.com’s article “Why You Need a Website” points out
“That said, it’s not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.”
3. It’s “Free” Advertising.
Plain and simple, Google does not charge you one penny to list your site with them. The sooner you get your site created and listed/indexed with Google, the sooner people can start finding you. The same cannot be said for newspaper ads, radio ads, tv ads, you name it. The Internet is a vast, largely free resource, you should use it. Google Places is a must, must, must for any small business. I only put “Free” in quotes because there are a few costs that go along with operating a website.
4. Gives you a chance to become a “voice” in your industry or community.
If you are an expert in your field and have knowledge to share, your website is the perfect place to do that. Blogging will bring in more traffic and over time hopefully more customers too. You’re likely an expert at what you do and have knowledge to share, get out there and blog! Blogging can also lead to higher search engine placement. If you’re seen as an expert in your industry or field that is a good thing! Smallbusinessesem.com published a useful article on “4 Reasons Small Businesses Should Have a Blog” . Quickly summarized, Blogs can show your human side, and be used to demonstrate your expertise at what you do, both of those are good things in the eyes of the consumer and can ultimately lead to more traffic and clients.
5. It’s not as expensive as you might think.
At a bare minimum you’re looking to pay around $10-15/year for a domain name and $5-20 /month for hosting. So for around $70-250 a year you can operate a website. I am willing to guess that most small businesses make at LEAST that much in one-two days of work, invest some of that back into your company. I know, I know, “what about the cost for design?”. Well professional design costs can really run the gamut. For a full custom design and eCommerce functionality you might be looking at anywhere from $2000-20,000 or up from an established web design firm. That is a lot more than most small businesses can afford and that is understandable. But there can be well designed, functional, professional sites had for much less these days (shameless plug for myself here). Web design firms do great work, there is no doubt about that, but they’re not right for everyone. The average small business or mom and pop type shop should also have the chance at a professional website.
Bottom line is, if you’re looking to be serious about your business and you want more customers, a website is a must. Over the course of your businesses’ life what is $500-2000? Investing that money in your company is going to pay off huge! It’s absolutely worth it. If you can legitimately say “I have too many clients, and I need to get rid of some of them”, then a website is not for you, but if you are looking for more clients, more awareness, and getting your name out there, a website for your business is a must.