Small Business Websites Series Part 1
There are a lot of reasons why a self-employed person or a small business should have a website. Some of them will make sense and others may have no relevance at all. But the bottom line is that for almost all businesses a website is a minimum requirement.
Most companies get this, but where we still see some large gaps are with small businesses and self-employed people. According to a survey by Clutch, 46% of small businesses do not have a website. When asked “why not” the top reasons were:
While we can appreciate the reasons given by small businesses for not having a website, in today's online-centric world those above represent short-term thinking. Here are some counterpoints to each “reason” as to to why a self-employed person or a small business should have a website.
Here are four simple reasons why a website is relevant to your business:
In the awareness stage they are searching online to better understand their problem and identify solutions. In the consideration stage they are looking online to evaluate solutions to get to a point to make a purchase decision. A website, and the content on your site, allow you to get on the buyers radar as they are starting their search and while they are looking for a solution. If you don’t have a website you have no chance at being an option.
30% of small businesses that don’t have a website cite cost as the reason. While you can definitely over spend on a website if you don’t do your due diligence, there are some affordable options out there. Your cost will be dependent upon a number of factors including the the type of site (static, dynamic or ecommerce), the size of your site, the functional requirements, whether you need help with creating your site content, the platform you choose to build your site on (some are complicated than others) and more. You'll also need to decide if you can handle the ongoing maintenance or if you need your developer to manage that.
Inc.com in there post titled "How Much Does it Really Cost to Build a Website?", laid out the following cost range for a small business website: "The typical range to hire a Web developer to create a custom small-business website today is $2,000 to $25,000. It’s possible to pay less -- or more, if you have really complex needs. Add to that your ongoing hosting costs, which can add another $5 to $50 per month."
While I'm sure that Inc did research to determine their price range, I think that what they are talking about in terms of small business is a company with 5-50 employees. What about the "real" small businesses that are really just a self employed person or a small partnership? For them a more reasonable range is $2,000 to $5,000, with most on the lower end.
I remember reading several articles a couple of years ago that advocated getting rid of your website and replacing it with Facebook or Twitter. Doing this definitely is less expensive than building a website since the only cost to having a Facebook page or Twitter account is the time that you spend to create your account. Financially it seemed to make sense. But there are several problems with this approach:
Websites do require maintenance and you will need to understand the technology if you are going to build it on your own. Wordpress, one of the many CRM’s available, makes it simple to update content, add or delete pages, and maintain your site. If you can use a word editor then you can update Wordpress.
There are also affordable options to outsource your website development and maintenance.
There are three top website mistakes we find with self-employed and small businesses. The first top mistake is not having a website, which we covered above.
The second major mistake is to have a website that is not mobile responsive. The Clutch Survey identified that 54% of small businesses have a website. There is a second part of the survey that is important to consider: 32% of small business websites are not mobile responsive or the owner doesn't know if it's mobile responsive.
A recent report by comScore, 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus, found that 65% of the time spent consuming digital media happened on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). That is a 12% increase since 2013. Clearly more people are accessing websites and online content on mobile devices.
If your have a website and its not mobile responsive or adaptive you are at a competitive disadvantage to competitors who do.
The third top mistake is having a website that isn't up-to-date in design or is seriously outdated. In our infographic, The Science of Choice, we took a light-hearted look at how people make decisions. Included in the infographic are some serious statistics that should catch the eye of every self-employed or small business that has a website:
If you don't have a website, if your site is not mobile responsive, or if it is outdated and doesn't look professional then it will have some degree of a negative impact on your business. The case for a website (that looks professional and is mobile responsive) being a "must have" grows stronger each year as more people use online research to identify solutions, to compare their options, and make purchasing decisions.
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