Does my business really need a website?
Do I really need a business website?
I read an interesting article in the Globe and Mail a while back with exactly the same title. The idea was that over a quarter of Canada’s small business owners didn’t have a website and didn’t necessarily plan to get one anytime soon. It made me curious.
The question of needing a business website is something I get asked allot – and not just by bricks and mortar companies but by freelancers, artists and other professionals. People without an actual store front or office. Now these are all smart people, they run businesses, juggle many different roles and make money doing it. They all know the internet is there, it’s growing exponentially and that it’s not going away. But they still sit on the fence about getting a site. Why the reluctance to go online?
The perceived issues of running a business website:
– Not doing online sales
– Unknown costs and misunderstood benefits
– Time-killer: Running a website takes time
Time and money are two big factors and I get that. Being a business owner is stressful and you need to wear many hats in order to succeed. Why take on the added pressure of running a website when there are so many other commitments and so the question: Does my business really need a website?
Well let me answer that question with….a question. Why do you think you can run a business without a website?
Some things never change. There’s never enough time to do everything and if you’re smart, money is also an issue. And then there’s the hectic pace of modern life. We all wish life was a little simpler, some things never change.
The only thing that’s changed is the rest of the world.
Business Websites: the change has already happened
These days the question is not should I have a website but give me a good reason why you wouldn’t want one. It’s never been more affordable and there’s never been more choices on how to get started. If you really want to spend some time you can even do it yourself. It’s a fact: Business website have moved from novelty to basic necessity.
The internet has become one of the most influential and cost effective tools to communicate with people, clients and stakeholders. It workks 24 hours a day, tells you who your customers are, where they are coming from and what they are most interested in. It can even sign people up while you’re sound asleep at three in the morning.
Try doing that with a yellow pages ad. The answer: you can’t.
The next generation not only understands this, they’ve embraced it to the point where it’s a part of they’re everyday life. Pop-up stores, temporary restaurants, fundraising turning into crowdfunding – it’s all changing and the engine that drives this machine is the internet. Don’t wait for the change, it’s already happened and in a very big way.
Numbers worth looking at
Percentage of B2B buyers who do online research first
Percentage of shopper who do online research before buying
You have to say this stuff, your a web designer..
Obviously I have an interest in building business website but that too has changed and so has my business model. A big part of my job these days is in helping people communicate and web design is only part of that. Social media, newsletters and communication planning are all just as important as having a website for some businesses.
That Globe and Mail article I mentioned was interesting but one of the most noteworthy parts of it was the comment section. Every comment basically said the same thing: every business should have some kind of basic information on a professional site.
If I can’t find you or find out about you online then you don’t exist.jbearr – Globe and Mail comment contributor.
Note to Business owners: there’s no going back
Here’s a question for you: would you give up your cell phone – texting? How about email? You don’t have to go back that long to find samples of game-changing technology that altered the way people do business. The internet is like that and having a website means being a part of it. For most of today’s younger consumers the idea of not being online for a business or organization is counter intuitive – almost bizarre. Why wouldn’t you be online? Why wouldn’t you have a website for your business that helps you, gives you valuable information and yes – makes you money.
Old school still counts
Great websites and slick branding can go a long way but at the core there still needs to be something solid. Like what? Well how about a really great product or service, something unique or new. Or how about simply doing something better than other people and offering really great customer service?
Website are just a part of a new set of tools business owners and other organization can use to broadcast their message. It’s a very powerful tool but it’s still just that. At the heart of it all there still needs to be a solid product, idea or service. It helps if you have some great people too. Some things never go out of style.
So my advice is this:
Find a way to be part of things online. Try social media. Do it in a way that fits your time and budget and see what happens. If you can do it yourself then great, if not find help. If it’s done right a website should be another tool, not another drain on time and resources. You don’t have to have the fanciest website with all the bells and whistles but you should have something. It’s a an opportunity to tell the world a little about what you do and how you do it. All you have to do is show up.