I was doing some research recently when I came across an article that said nearly half of small businesses don’t have a website. You read that right, nearly HALF. 45 percent is the number quoted in the article, which by the way was titled, “You’ll be shocked to learn how many small businesses still don’t have a website.” And yes, I was shocked.
I’ve seen research like this before, and on one hand, it isn’t hard to believe. Small business owners are strapped for time and funds–I get it. They’re overwhelmed by the demands placed on them, including not only sales but marketing, operations, business development, HR and the list goes on.
On the other hand, how can a small business NOT have a site? It is simply a must for any business today. Even if you’re not selling anything online, a site is the hub of all digital marketing activity—social media, content marketing, PR, advertising and SEO. Where is the first place many will go when they look for a product or service? Online. If you’re not there, they may not bother to seek you out–and go elsewhere.
As a solopreneur myself, I understand that small business owners are pulled in many directions. When I started my business 18 years ago, one of the very first things I did was to get a domain and put up a basic site. I launched my company in Silicon Valley, and of course, any business there without a site is pretty much dead in the water. Sure, I knew of others who didn’t have one, but I always considered it a competitive advantage. Back then, it was a brochure site. It didn’t have–or need–much. Of course today, sites have evolved and can be much more. But I had one—and it was a place where prospective clients could find my business and learn more about me, my approach and my services.
Don’t Let Excuses Stand in the Way
So why the reluctance to launching a website? The article talks about small business owners who commented that they were intimidated by the technology and the costs involved with building a site. True, these might be daunting—but that’s still no excuse for not having a site.
I think the dialogue in their heads may go something like this: “Well, I can’t afford a $10,000 site, and if I do it myself, it won’t look professional. So, maybe it’s easier not to have one at all.” Nonsense. You must find a way to make it work.
You may need to get creative. For example, could you barter to cover some of the costs? Could you do some of the writing yourself? Could you assemble content such as images and media clips and mentions generated by public relations to include on the site? There are free or low-cost tools out there to help with some of the tasks involved.
Keep in mind, it needn’t be fancy. A basic site will suffice. Make sure it’s mobile friendly and follows basic design principles. Add more as you can.
And understand that no matter how much or how little you spend, it will never be perfect. There will always be changes and updates you’ll want to make. However, it will be there. And if you have a site–and your competitors don’t–you’re one step ahead.