“I’m going to start my own business,” you said. “It’ll be fun,” you thought. Then the harsh reality set in that you had to build a business website. If you’re like most local business owners, the fun went right out the window, and fear and frustration increased as you explored your options online.
If you had to guess what percentage of small businesses have a website, what would you guess? Spoiler alert: it’s 71%. Yup, according to a survey by SmallBusiness.com, only 71% (not even ¾) of small businesses have a website. But don’t feel relieved if you’re in the 29% who haven’t gotten there yet. A whopping 92% of those folks without websites say they plan to have a business website by the end of 2018.
Why You May Not Have a Business Website
The same survey revealed the top 4 reasons business owners hadn’t quite gotten around to setting up a business website.
- They’re using a social media business profile (or profiles) instead.
- They feel they lack the technical skills required.
- They feel it’s not necessary in their business.
- They lack resources (time or money) to invest in a business website.
Any of these sound familiar? They should. But they’re not insurmountable. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Social Media Profiles vs. a Business Website
Your customers are likely on social media, so on the surface, using a social media page to make up for the lack of a business website seems to make sense. Aside from the captive audience, there are other pros to using social media to promote your business.
- It’s free (and easy) to set up a page on most social networks. Can’t beat free!
- The SEO is pretty good, thanks to the number of pages, sharing of content, and sheer volume of visits to social sites.
- The tools offer built-in promotional opportunities.
But the pros pretty much stop there. The biggest con of using social to supplement a website is that you lack control. You’re at the mercy of the social network for any formatting and functionality decisions, and you aren’t likely to get advance notice of changes to the platform. With a site of your own, you have much greater control over the user experience.
Lacking Technical Skills
If you assume the cheapest route to a business website is to build it yourself, you’re pretty much right. But if you lack the skills to do it yourself, and you think you can’t afford help…is the only option reeeally to not do it at all?
Here’s the worst assumption you’ve made if you find yourself in this boat: “Getting some help is out of reach financially.” While there are some very expensive options out there, building a business website doesn’t have to be a technical nightmare OR a massive money pit.
You’ve got a few options:
- You can suck it up and try doing it yourself. WordPress, Weebly and Wix are common platforms we’d consider fairly easy to use for the non-web-developer.
- You could hire a web developer for initial site setup and design. They’ll take the complex coding work off your hands. But beware, most of these guys won’t be around after the fact for updates and changes you want to make.
- There are also companies who are willing to do all of the legwork for you. They’ll set up the site, go back and forth with you on it, and make any changes you need going forward.
- Some choose to hire full-scope marketing agencies. They usually offer a business website and much more in the way of branding your business and getting you optimal visibility online.
Feel Like It’s Not Necessary?
If I had a penny for every time I heard a local business owner say they get all the business they need via word of mouth, I’d have many pennies. But relying solely on word-of-mouth marketing can only take your business so far.
What happens when you lose a regular customer because they move away? Replacing the revenue stream you’ve just lost will take a heck of a lot longer if you’re relying on verbal recommendations for your business over an online presence. Or what happens if you get a couple negative reviews online? Having a professional business website can boost your online reputation and help counteract any less-than-desirable mentions of your company.
Not Enough Time or Money
The way we see it, doing nothing is ultimately costing you a lot more than doing something. The business you’re missing out on winning, nurturing and growing usually outweighs the average investment in a business website that could achieve all of these things for you. Let’s set some realistic expectations for budgeting for a business website.
If you go the DIY route, it’s obviously less expensive in terms of dollars. But in terms of your time, it could take several hours away from other things you could be doing to run and grow your business – so keep that in mind. For a solid DIY solution, don’t spend more than $100 per year, which should really only be for the custom domain name.
If you go the professional route, you may be pleased to hear that prices vary quite a bit from about $100 – $1,000 per month.
- The lower end of this price range accounts for hiring a web developer for initial site setup and design.
- Middle of the road options include companies who are willing to set up the site, go back and forth with you on it, and manage it for you for a regular monthly fee.
- The steepest price tags will come from the full-scope marketing agencies. Don’t get wooed by these guys unless you have some serious goals for scaling your business fast and can justify the large, even cringe-worthy, investment.