Running a small business can be very tricky. There is a long list of tasks vying for your attention, many of which are not the core of your business but necessary in order to keep things moving. If you’re not a book keeper, then keeping the books doesn't make you any money, but if you don’t do it, or hire someone to do it for you, you might not be around for very long.
With all the demands on you and your time, you may think that a website is just one more thing. It is something that requires time and attention, but unlike doing the books, it has the potential to help you grow your business and give your a return on that investment of both time and money. In this post we’re going to look at some reasons why your small business needs a website, and how you can leverage your site to help grow your business.
Sometimes it seems that if we can’t find it on Google, then it must not exist. We are used to businesses having a websites. It seems strange to us if a business doesn’t have one. It gives us a degree of credibility that we just won’t have otherwise by saying to our customers, “Hey, we’re serious about this”.
A website is a bit of an equalizer. If done well, it allows a small business to seem like it belongs at the table, and not shoved at some card table to the side where all the kids sit. It helps your small business look relevant.
It’s unlikely that you’re business is open 24/7, but your website is. People may need simple information like contact numbers or hours of operation that can be obtained any time, from anywhere, without you even needing to answer the phone, or respond to an email.
Showcase Your Products and Services
Your website is a great way to showcase your products and services. The visual medium of the web allows you to combine written descriptions, images, audio or video content, to demonstrate to a would-be customer what you do.
A construction company, for example, could show off some projects that they’ve completed. This allows them to put your best foot forward, but can also clarify the range of work they do. Do they do a full range of construction? Commercial, residential, renovations, desks and patios? Visitors can look at the full range of their work and make an informed decision from there.
Here at MissionBell.net, we offer a variety of web and graphic design services for small business. Our portfolio page is an important way for us to showcase what we do. If what you do can be well represented visually, your site is a tremendous asset to help you show it off.
Widen Your Customer Base
Cyberspace is a world without borders. A brick and mortar store will attract business from an area around their location, but a business with a web site can attack business from anywhere in the world. Your potential customer base has widened from thousands to millions.
Perhaps your business provides a service to a local area. The potential for a prospective customer to see your website in Mongolia may not be of any use to you, but your website can also widens your customer base locally as well. The general public will be aware of your business because they’ve seen your storefront, a brochure, newspaper ad, or have heard a recommendation from someone they know. Your website, along with some basic search engine optimization, will make it very easy for anyone in your area with a computer who happens to be looking for the product or service your provide, to find your business.
You may be intimidated about selling products from your website. The fact is that you don’t need to be big business to have an e-commerce site. There are fairly simple solutions available to help you get your products out there, and start selling. Third party payment gateways will allow you to accept credit card payments, making it convenient for consumers to purchase the products that you are selling. Common sense tells us that the easier it is for customers to purchase your product, the better for your bottom line.
You may be using social media to promote your business. It can be setup for free, and it offers a very easy way to connect with your customers. Having active social media is a tremendous tool, but it has some limitations. Your website and your social media are much more powerful in tandem.
Social networks allow us to connect with customers like never before. If you have a great product, and great service, Facebook, twitter, and the like will allow you to convert your customers into your sales force. Those same social networks give us pages that are pretty much standard. We can change the pictures and text, but we can’t really add features, or change the default styling. We’re also limited in the content we can post. You likely have ideas which you want to put out there that are more than 140 characters long. Twitter is a great way to send out a headline for a page or post, and then link the reader to the content you want them to read…on your website’s blog. You can place an ad on Facebook, which will sell a product in your website’s store. The social media is really a channel to get people to your website, and from there to make them into paying customers, or at least to move them further along your sales funnel.
Control the Narrative
You’re not always the only one writing about your business online. If you don’t have a website, then what somebody finds when they search for your business is what others have written. If someone googles your company and the only thing they find is the negative rantings of one unsatisfied customer, then that will be their impression of your business. You may have the odd unsatisfied customer; it might not even be your fault. Perhaps a product was lost or damaged in shipment. Do you really want the narrative to be how you don’t deliver? Having a website allows you to make sure that your company is represented in an accurate way. People can look you up and find out what you’re all about rather than relying on a few people’s interactions. If those interactions are entirely positive, they may not represent a cross section of what your company does. You could be an auto-mechanic who sells used cars on the side. If someone looks you up on the Internet, and all they find are a couple of mentions about you selling cars, they may not even realize that your core business is repairing cars. If I have questions about a company, the first place I would usually look for more information is their website.
If you have a small business, it just makes sense to have a website. Yes, it is an investment; but it is one that makes tremendous sense. There is great potential for your website to help you grow your business and be more successful.
The prospect of developing a site might be a little daunting. There are services which allow you to build a site yourself (without needing to know code), and there are likely several web design companies in your areas offering services for a range of different needs and budgets: That said, I’m going to take the opportunity for a shameless plug. MissionBell.net offers great websites that are affordable for small businesses. Feel free to contact us and discuss your business’ needs.