Getting Your Business Online

Almost half of America’s small businesses are not online yet.

When asked why not, the majority of these business owners say that they don’t need a website.

They’re fooling themselves. Most Americans no longer use a phone book to find a business. Most Americans go online to begin every shopping trip they make. Most of us don’t trust a business that has no website as much as one with an online presence.

No matter what, when your customers look for you online, you have to be there.  This is becoming more true as time goes on, not less so.

Among business owners with no website who know that they ought to have one, the main reasons that they haven’t done it yet are that it would cost too much, they don’t have the time, and it would be too complicated.

I think these are three ways of saying the same thing. Added together, they’re probably the number one reason small businesses aren’t online. They think about getting a website, aren’t sure how to go about it, don’t know whom to ask, have no idea what it would cost, and give up.

Here’s what you need to get your business online for the first time:

  • Domain name. That’s the “www.yourcompany” address. These cost you about $10 a year, and you should have yours now, even if you’re not ready to get a website. Once it’s gone, it’s very hard to get it back again (and sometimes very expensive, too). Go to Psychic Whois and see whether your company name is available. If so, get it right now. If you need help with that, we’ll be happy to help you, but don’t wait around.
  • Web hosting. Your website needs a place to live. However, this may not be the first decision you should make. You might decide on a DNN or WordPress site and need a host who supports those particular platforms. You might want a turnkey site, where hosting is included in the design. One of our favorite designers only builds websites when he also hosts them. Also, arranging for hosting can be one of the most confusing and frustrating parts for neophytes, and yet many web firms throw it in for you. Hold off on this one till you’ve made some other decisions.
  • Web design. We work with lots of websites, and professionally designed sites always get better results than DIY. Still, there are good templates out there, and plenty of industry-specific services. Find yourself a designer or check out companies like Vistaprint,Intuit,  or Yahoo that offer website building services. You might find it useful to read “Web Development: Should You Buy Local?” when you’re trying to decide between a national company and a local one.
  • Web content. The marketing wizards at Hubspot say you should pay for content, not for design. We think both are worth paying for, but a good template with good content is going to do a better job for you than a beautiful site with poor content — search engines can’t tell whether your site is beautiful or not. And yet many companies put a lot of thought and effort into their websites and then put in content lifted from other sites, poorly written stuff with lots of errors, or text pulled out of their brochure. Good content is affordable and it makes the most difference to your search results, so this is not the place to skimp. Here at Haden Interactive, we’re happy to work with your DIY site, and it’ll probably cost you less than you’d pay your staff to do it.

If you have a business, you need a website. Companies like ours can get it all set up for you with one phone call, or you can plunge in and do parts of it yourself. Either way, it’s probably not as hard as you think.







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