by Ryan Grassie - Jan. 31, 2013 at 3:08pm
My business is pretty small, just me and two employees, and our product really can’t be sold online. Do I really need to build a website?
This question is one of the most important and most frequently asked questions of the digital business age. Should your small business have a website, even if your business is very small and sells products or services you don’t think can be sold online? The answer is Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website. Period. No question. Without a doubt.
Also, don’t be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can’t be sold online. These days, there’s not much that can’t be sold over the net. More than 40 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from e-books to computers to cars to real estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.
Let me clarify one point: I’m not saying you should put all your marketing efforts into selling your product or service over the internet, but if your product is easy to sell online, you should certainly be considering it as part of your plan. You should at the very least have a good presence on the web so that customers, potential hires, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.
With that said, it’s not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional looking website if you want to be taken seriously and not look micky mouse. Since many of your consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind donkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be gone.
One of the greatest perks about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big box stores. You have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed website, your little firm can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for your business, too bad for theirs.
It really doesn’t matter that your business is a small operation, when it comes to benefiting from a website, size does not matter. I don’t care if you’re a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don’t have a well built and designed website, you’re losing business everyday to other companies that do.
The One Exception to the “always need a website” rule
Here’s the exception to the rule: It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey, look, we take our business very seriously and because of that we have created this wonderful website for our customers!” or it screams, “Hey, look, I let my 15-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything or viewing it on a mobile device!”
Your website is a very important part of your business and marketing mix. Make sure you treat it as such.