One question that many new small business owners consider is this: can I open up my doors without first establishing a presence on the Internet? In other words, if I don’t have a website am I destined to fail?
This bit of negative thinking can sometimes hold entrepreneurs from selling their products or offering their services when they are otherwise ready to do so. They believe that they aren’t ready to open up shop until they have a shiny new website taking up real estate in the virtual world. Well they are right, but they are also wrong.
A small business owner can certainly open their doors and take their first dollar without putting a virtual foot into the world wide web. The question is whether or not their business will survive. It has been said that only a small percentage of small businesses are still in operation 10 years after they take on their first customer. It is reasonable to assume that a business with a large web presence will have an easier time edging out their competition.
Getting Customers Without a Website
Entrepreneurs who choose to try to turn a profit without the benefit of a small business website can gain customers in the traditional ways — word of mouth, referrals and mailing lists. Social media is also a great way for business owners to gain new customers.
Some small business owners will create pamphlets, place ads in local publications and even hand out business cards. There is nothing wrong with the traditional ways of marketing, but you are missing out on plenty of potential customers if you only use these ways.
Why You Will Eventually Need a Website
You can absolutely open the doors of your business without creating a website. However, it will be very difficult to sustain your business without a website. By the time you realize that you’re going under, it could be too late to save what you’ve built.
Here’s what we know: More than 80 percent of consumers say that they research a product, service or company online before they make a decision about a purchase. This means that you may be picking up only 20 percent of the business that is out there waiting to be had. If you’re business can survive on 20 percent, great! If not, a small business website is certainly in order. Here’s some of the top reasons why a website is so important:
While most people believe that the only reason to have a website is so people can find you, this is not always the case. You do need an online presence so more people can find you, but that shouldn’t be your only goal.
When someone suggests your business to a friend, you can bet that that potential customer is going to turn to their computer or mobile device and look you up. If they can’t find you, they will immediately form a bad impression. You lose legitimacy if you aren’t online. Also, depending on their search terms, the person may come across your competitor. If they find your competitor and not you, you’ve just lost a customer.
Think of a website as a conversation with your customer. You may never meet them face-to-face, making your website the only chance you have to develop a relationship with that person. Your customers have a chance to get to know you and your company through your home or about us page. They can get a better insight into what you offer on your various landing pages. A website allows you to connect with your customers in a personal way that they expect.
For example, let’s say that you offer a service. A video of you or an employee performing that service could go a long way to earning you a customer. If you sell a product, a testimonial or a video of the product in use can gain customers. Use your website to your advantage, and make it personal.
- Dominating the Market
Very few small businesses are unique in what they offer. They may be unique in their prices, their design or even their decor, but it’s difficult to offer someone something they’ve never seen or heard of before.
On that note, a great small business website can help you dominate your competition. When you take the time to have a proper website built from the ground up and have content that is SEO optimized to connect on a personal level with your customers, you are taking steps that your competition may not be.
With the right website, you can dominate the market beyond your local one. Think big. If you are willing to ship your product, you can gain new customers that live in other states or even other countries. If you add a few independent contractors on your team, you can offer your services no matter where people are located. A website will let people see you from anywhere.
Do you have to have a small business website? The answer is complicated. If you are ready to launch your business and have already established a small customer base, don’t wait until you’ve created a stellar website to take your first orders. With that said, once you have opened your doors, you need to start thinking about whether or not you will be designing a website on your own or having a professional do the job. You may not need a website to start your business, but you will most likely need one to sustain it.
If you would like more tips for getting your small business’ website up and running, please reach out to our friendly team at Company.com today. We are entrepreneurs ourselves and have done things right and wrong. Along the way, we’ve learned valuable lessons that we can use to make sure your small business is a success. We offer tools and services to small business owners no matter what position they are in. Contact us today to discover how we can help.