One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Does my small business really need a website?” Even though it is difficult for me to be 100% objective because I have made websites for a living, I still appreciate their question and identify with their uncertainty.
I was in the same place in 1999 when the small business I co-founded was debating this very topic. There were two of us running the business and neither of us had a clue whether having a website would be worth the time or cost.
Sure, we heard that it was a great way to present the company and our services 24/7 but would it really make a difference in the decision someone would make about our business as a whole? Would it compel someone to call us? Would it make that person more likely to become a customer once we talked with them?
We had no idea and the people we were asking didn’t seem to know either. The web design services I found (online, of course!) seemed really expensive and the process seemed like a lengthy one. But, we both felt that it might be worth a shot since most of our competition didn’t have a website at the time and having one would definitely make us stand out.
As luck would have it, I found a great deal by a relatively new company – 1&1- who was offering free domain registration and hosting for 2 years if you signed up with them. I suggested we give it a try. Instead of using a service, I learned how to make a website using HTML and a couple of weeks later, our business was online!
From the moment our website was live, I knew we had made the right decision.
Our business was very reliant on word-of-mouth referrals, but to get someone to be brave enough to make that call – even if someone they knew referred us – was sometimes too big of a hurdle. Without a website, we were making it hard for our potential clients to have the information they needed to take that leap of faith and reach out.
After the website was online, the majority of our phone calls or emails were mentioning that they had seen our website. They were impressed with how professional it was and how it made them feel confident that we were professional and someone they wanted to do business with. It continued to be a major player in our marketing and sales strategy from that point on.
Fast forward to the present time . . .
As you and I both know, the world and the internet has changed dramatically since 1999 but there are still business owners that wonder if it’s worth the time or trouble to have a website for the business. To be brutally honest, I don’t think a small business owner has the choice anymore.
It is expected that every business, no matter what they do, where they do it or how they do it, should have at least some presence on the internet. The only place to do that, with complete control over the content, is a website.
Sure, you can have a Facebook Business Page showing how much fun your customers are having using your product, but what happens if Facebook decides to change their policies or people stop using them or worse yet, someone starts putting bad reviews or disparaging words about your business for all the world to see and you have only a limited way to deal with turning them around.
With a website you have complete control over the content and the time and effort you put into isn’t going to be lost.
Plus, creating a very simple website is super easy these days.
Regardless of how you do it, it is my opinion that it’s imperative for your business to have a professional website if it is going to thrive.