You’re finishing up the year, in a mad rush if you’re in retail and prehaps in contemplative downtime if you do something else. Has it been a great year, or are you wondering whether you’ll be part of the 80% of businesses that go under?
In the course of writing a website for a venture capital firm, I’ve been doing some research into online resources for entrepreneurs. One of the items the client supplied was a list of the Top Seven Reasons that Businesses Fail. Most of the list was predictable: too little capital, poor management, stuff like that.
Reason number seven: “No website. Simply put, if you have a business today, you need a website. Period.”
Do you think your business will be okay without a website? You’re mistaken. And yet nearly half of the small businesses in the United States don’t have websites. Look more closely at the numbers, and you’ll see that the businesses without websites are generally the smallest of small businesses.
Most businesses that are doing without websites aren’t making a well thought out choice to put their marketing funds into something else. Nor have they decided that they simply have too much business and can’t handle the new customers who would flood in if they went online.
Usually, they have concerns that keep them from doing what they know they ought to do:
- We can’t afford a website. Yes you can. Register your domain name and set up a minimal website, no matter what it takes to accomplish that. But also recognize that a poor website won’t be very good for your business and won’t give you the results you need. Think of the opportunity costs involved in losing every single potential customer who goes online to find a business like yours, and many of the existing customers who go online to find your contact information or current shop hours. Compare the cost of a website with the cost of opening a branch office or second store. Recognize that as long as you have no website you’re roughly in the position of a hair stylist who does cuts in her kitchen because she isn’t ready to spring for salon space. Once you’ve done all this pondering, do the smart thing and get online.
- We don’t know how to get one. Lots of small companies are overwhelmed by the process of getting online. They don’t know how to choose a web firm or what they need to know to get started. “I’m afraid they’ll ask me how many gigs I want,” one entrepreneur told me, a line that has come to symbolize for me the fear of the digital unknown that keeps small businesses from getting online. Just Google for web design firms in your area and talk to a few. Even if you decide to go with a Big Box or to do it yourself, you’ll have more of an idea of what you’re doing once you’ve had those conversations.
- We don’t know what we want. I think some business owners are paralyzed by uncertainties about their web needs. Especially when a business is used to making all the decisions in house, they may feel that they have to know what they want before they start. In fact, web firms will help you with this. The more open you are to taking expert advice, the less you have to know beforehand. Ideally, you’ll have an idea of your budget and your goals, but your web firm will use their discovery process to help you clarify things beyond that.
If you don’t have a website for your business, getting one should be your top priority for the new year. Call Rosie at 479.966.9761 to get started.