Do You Really Need a Website?
Starting a business comes with a to-do list as long as both your arms (I'm finding), and a lot of choices to make on what to do, when to do it, and how much to invest in telling people you exist.
When you're busy and resources are limited, commissioning a website can feel a little extravagant, perhaps even a bit more trouble than it's worth when you take into account keeping it up to date. It can easily slip to the bottom of that great big long list, behind registering for networking events and mopping the kitchen floor.
Do you really need a website? What will it actually do for your business?
Honestly, if you're drowning in customers and you dream of nothing more than a day off, a website may not be the best use of your precious time and money. And well done! You'll be hosting The Apprentice in no time.
But if you have any plans to grow, if you sell stuff that could be sold online or you want to save on printed marketing materials, then a website is essential. Here's why.
1. Your website will bring a whole new audience to you
Websites are a way to reach out to a completely new audience, one that wouldn't have found you by any other means. A properly search engine optimised website, regularly updated with relevant content will be found by people searching for your services in your local area.
2. A website is a low-cost, dynamic company brochure
A website is exactly the place to put your portfolio and sell what you have to offer. Compare the cost of a website with the cost of regular print runs, postage and distribution. The investment soon starts to even out.
3. A website makes you legit — not just to your customers
The first thing I do when someone recommends a business to me is search for its website. A recommendation is a very strong lead, and your website can shore up that recommendation, making sure that person gets in touch. It also helps to demonstrate your legitimacy to your bank and to suppliers you'd like to work with.
Of course, a complete lack of website isn't a complete turnoff — especially for a non-tech business — but a website certainly helps to show you're serious, whatever it is you do. Having said that...
4. Your competitors probably have websites
The very fact your competitors have websites and you don't means they're grabbing those online customers, and making themselves appear much more legitimate, trustworthy and cutting-edge than you.
I recently searched for a seamstress in my local area, and found that, in fact, people who make roman blinds don't tend to have websites. Perhaps they are too busy making roman blinds. In the end I chose someone from outside the local area who did have a website, because it was detailed enough to tell me she was the person I was looking for. I could be fairly sure I wouldn't have to waste time interviewing a lot of different seamstresses. Which brings me to...
5. A website is an opportunity to introduce yourself
Often, your website will be a potential customer's first experience of your business. It's an opportunity to present yourself in a positive light, and describe what you do in terms of the solutions you provide.
A professional website — with a bit of personality — gives the audience an idea of the person or people behind the business, and tells them how likely you are to meet their needs.
6. Your website is always open
When you're in bed and the shop is closed, anyone can find out who you are and what you're about from the comfort of their own home. Add shopping features, contact forms and booking facilities and you give potential customers the ability to interact with you and become proper customers, whenever and wherever is most convenient to them.
Although a website can seem like just a nice-to-have, having one is pretty much essential to becoming a grown-up, legitimate business.
If you're struggling to make time to build your company website, get in touch.