This is a question that seems to come up again and again on home business forums. Usually, the person has started a home business of one kind or another and is maybe having a certain degree of success through word of mouth or using one of the social media channels and then they wonder whether or not they should invest in getting a website for their business?
My answer in most cases is yes. A website will nearly always enhance the look, feel and reputation of a small business.
Some MLM businesses will not allow you to have your own website, and you either have to use the company’s template website or do without, so if that is your business then you can maybe get by without a website of your own.
I also know of some craft and artisan businesses that can sell more than they can physically produce, just by posting pictures on Facebook or listing on Etsy, so maybe you could argue that if they had a website, they would end up with more business than they could handle and it wouldn’t be worth it
But then you see the horror stories of what happens to those businesses when Facebook suddenly changes its algorithm or Etsy puts up its fees or changes its terms of business. Suddenly they can go overnight to having lots of visitors to having none at all, or their profit margins are wiped out and they have to raise prices and may lose customers.
When you have your own website it belongs to you – you can design it, evolve it as you grow and you make all the rules as to what is displayed there.
Small business websites come in all shapes and sizes these days. You can go for a simple one or two pages that basically looks like an advert such as you might see in a newspaper or magazine. Or you can add other things to bring it to life – a blog, some testimonials, a gallery of images of your work, maybe even some video or audio elements. You can start small, and expand the website as you grow, adding on parts as you expand your business.
A website helps you to get seen
Have you seen the Yellow Pages recently? When I was growing up, that was where you went to find all small businesses and tradespeople. Businesses that invested in a large advert there were the ones that were seen as most reliable or trustworthy.
If you didn’t look there then maybe you would look at the adverts in the local papers to find somebody.
But the Yellow pages book has got smaller and smaller and the last ever print edition was published in January 2019. And I haven’t looked at a local paper in years – they go straight in the bin in our house.
Like most other people, as soon as I am thinking about making a purchase or getting work done, I get my phone out and Google what I want. Immediately I get a list of people near me who do or have that thing, and then I check out their websites, before making a choice based on what the candidates present to me there.
If you don’t have a website that is mobile responsive, then you are not even going to figure in the shortlist of so many people who are looking for what you offer. If your website does not clearly show what you can do, your availability, the area you cover or the location of your premises and at least one way of getting hold of you easily, then your business will be easily dismissed.
So what about social media?
So if it’s really important to have a website, then why do people still go on social media sites?
The fact is that social media can work hand in hand with a well-designed website to help attract people to your business and keep them informaed and interested.
A website will only show up on the first page of Google if it is popular and a lot of people visit it. If it’s not on the first page then most people will not find it when they search, as very few searchers move on to page 2.
There are SEO techniques that a website designer can build in to help your site get seen, but one reliable way of bringing more folks to your website is to get out there on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest, wherever your target audience is most likely to be, and offer them little snippets of the content on your website and a snapshot of your personality to entice them to visit.
The more folks come, the more Google will like your site, and it will then show your site to more prospective customers – and so it grows
So in conclusion, I would say that for the majority of small businesses a website is a very good investment, if not a necessity.
It’s worth paying out for a talented designer to create the perfect website if you’re not confident in your own IT skills, but it is also perfectly possible to build a website from scratch yourself, using templates and tutorials that are freely available online.
Do you have a website? Did it make a difference to your business when you got it? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.