|The internet is not going away. Ever. Oh, it will change – everything evolves – but the internet is the new reality when it comes to information, entertainment, and the future of your business. Americans are spending more time than ever online. 80% of us now spend as much time online as we do watching television. 9 out of 10 people now do their research online. Terms such as “Google it”, “Friend me” and “Tweet” are now part of the English language.The business landscape now extends far into internetland, yet many small businesses are going under because of a glaring shortcoming: they are not online.
A couple of interesting statistics:
• According to Jupiter Research, half of all small businesses with less than 10 employees do not have a website.
• 7 out of 10 solo businesses do not have a website.
The question is, why?
Can you do e-commerce if you are not online? Nope. Can customers or prospects who want more information about you check you out on the web if you don’t have a website? No again. If you own a restaurant, can current customers check out your new menu if you lack a site? Not easily.
If you successfully started a business, then you definitely possess enough common sense to know that if for no other reason, you need a website because your competitors have one. And they’re the ones taking your business away.
So, what gives? Most likely it’s a matter of perception. Whether based on personal experience or that of someone they know, many small business owners have formed an unfavorable opinion about getting or having a website and thus have dismissed the idea – for the moment. Here are some reasons why:
1) They’re cynical. Owners tell or have heard horror stories of shady design firms taking their money and getting a low quality site in return, or sometimes no site at all. Then there are the providers who deliver the site and then disappear, leaving the client with no support or means to update their site going forward. THE GOOD NEWS: Many firms require little or no upfront payment, a sure sign they will deliver what’s promised. Websites built on modern frameworks like WordPress include user-friendly programs that allow site content to be updated effortlessly, thus giving control of the site to the business owner.
2) They’re skeptical. Business owners simply don’t think a website will make a difference in their bottom line. The value of a website has not been proven or demonstrated to them, therefore they do not consider the cost of a site a practical investment in their business. THE GOOD NEWS: Website value can be proven by researching your competition online and seeing how they’re doing. The good, the bad and the ugly truth about how a company performs will be revealed through reviews, comments and news on many outlets such as social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), community listings (Yelp) and various blogs. How do you find this info? Google it.
3) They’re scared. Many business owners view the internet as an unknown, a digital chameleon that is constantly changing and will bite them if they’re not careful. If they had a site, just how would they market their business with it? Drive traffic to it? What about a social media presence? To sell or not to sell on the site? The details can become overwhelming, resulting in no action being taken. THE GOOD NEWS: There are many companies highly specialized in each aspect of creating an online presence. Most of them will provide services – and training – at a range of prices to fit your budget so that you can invest a relevant amount of money to build your business online. And before you know it, you’re the next online success story!
Small business owners need to understand that, whatever their reason, one thing is clear: the internet is the business community of today, and you need to have your business online to evolve. If you stay offline, it’s only a matter of time before your business is off the planet.
John Wolforth is the Principal of Fix Your Website NOW, a web design and development company that also provides website repair and upgrades. John’s primary client focus is on small business, and he believes that anyone can have a website that fits their business and budget.