I’m too small to have a website!
Do you run a small business, or are you thinking of setting one up? May be you’re an individual considering establishing a fledgling company? Perhaps you’re in employment, but you would like to have some sort of on-line portfolio? You’ll understand that there are 101 things you need to set in place.
Setting up a business can be expensive and labour intensive, so you need to make priorities:
- What are you going to include in your business plan?
- How can you best spend your time and money?
- Do you really need a website from the outset?
- Will just a Facebook page do? Can’t you just rely on word of mouth?
- May be you’re an established business, but you only sell off-line. Do you still need a website?
Questions, questions, questions. Where are the answers? Well, let’s think about whether or not you need a website. Ask yourself:
- Do you want more customers?
- Would you like someone to answer the sorts of questions you get asked repeatedly?
- Would you like your business to be open 24/7, but without having to increase your staffing costs or put in extra hours yourself?
- Do you want people to understand what is unique about what you do and offer?
- Do you want an element of control about what people are saying about you and your business on-line?
If you answered “no” to these, then you probably don’t need a website. Occasionally people run a small business successfully without one. They have a steady flow of work from a reliable source. They are not in a competitive market. They don’t feel that people will be wanting to read about them on-line. If this is you, I wish you the very best. Please come and visit us again should things change.
However, I’m sure many answered “yes, yes and thrice yes!”. Why wouldn’t you want all of these things? Having your own website can help you achieve them.
So when setting up your business, I would say that getting a website up and running should be one the first things you should consider. This would still apply even if you intend to sell off-line. What’s more, with a content management system such as WordPress, building and managing a website has never been easier (or cheaper).
Let’s explore some of the benefits that running your own website could bring. How could it help your business to grow and develop?
1. A website raises the profile of your business and gives you credibility and authority
Put simply, your customers will expect you to have a website. A professional looking site shows that you are serious and committed to provide a professional service. Remember: I’m fairly sure your competitors will have one!
2. It helps customers find you
People used to use the phone book to look for local businesses. Not any more. Your potential customers now use Google. If you don’t a have website, how on earth will they find you? According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2017:
- 90% of households in the UK had internet access
- 73% of adults access the internet “on the go” using a mobile phone
That’s a lot of people and those numbers are going up, year on year. What’s more, the majority of customers research a product on-line before buying. This is likely to be the case, even if the purchase is made in store. A recent study shows that the majority of consumers are using their smartphones to look up products while they are in a shop*. They are checking for prices, product information and reviews.
Maybe you’re thinking, but I don’t sell on-line, or I’m just a small, independent shop. Surely this doesn’t really apply to my business? In a recent survey, 70% of households now use the internet when shopping locally for products and services*. This demonstrates that it isn’t just large national industries that need websites. Small, local businesses also need to establish an on-line presence.
Are you local?
Many will be carrying out local searches, for local businesses to provide local services. If your business provides local services, then locality is key. You have narrow competition and an opportunity to beat your rivals. You simply can not afford to be missing out. What’s more, Google often ranks results according to location. In other words, if you are searching for a “gift shop near me” it will give you just that, a local gift shop! You have the opportunity to optimise your site with search terms relating to your business and its location. This will help target potential and viable customers in your area.
3. A website will save you money
Having a website is an amazing marketing tool. Your site can reach almost anyone on the planet. Compare the cost of a website to that of traditional marketing: leaflets, newspaper adverts, TV commercials, trade shows, making cold calls, etc. A website is an extremely cost effective marketing tool.
4. It saves you time
Having a Facebook page can be a great way to spread the word, and I would strongly recommend you set one up. Try designing, printing and pining up posters locally advertising your business. May be this will generate some interest and brand awareness? But, before you start making business cards or printing off leaflets or posters, you need a website. This will be your customers’ point of reference. Where else do all of these new potential customers go to get their questions answered? Remember: you are an authority in your industry.
Your customers could phone you, but is that the best use of your time? Your website can easily do that for you. Why would you want to be answering the same questions over and over again? A simple FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page could include:
- Where you are based and directions?
- How you can be contacted?
- Prices, if appropriate, and any promotions or offers
- Opening times
Other pages could detail:
- Examples of your work, including testimonials and a portfolio
- A sign-up/mailing-list page, allowing you to inform potential customers about any new initiatives
What’s more, if you are using a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, you can change any of this information instantly and easily, saving you money. No need to make new flyers, brochures or price lists every time something needs updating.
Having a Facebook page and Twitter account are great, especially for launching a new offer. But you can’t organise all the above information in a controlled way. You need both a personal website, and social media. Your website is like the anchor of your marketing. Social media and a personal website are both important, but they have different roles. They should be integrated and work together.
5. A website demonstrates that you are different and one of a kind!
It doesn’t matter what sort of business you run, a website is your opportunity to show what you can do. For instance, it might include details of your latest work as part of a blog or articles/news section. It could also host product reviews, an image gallery and testimonials. It’s your chance to show off your expertise in your industry and to provide customers with vital information 24/7.
6. It controls the information that appears about you on-line
Have you ever Googled yourself? It’s quite interesting. Having your own website, where you manage the content offers you a lot of control over your on-line reputation. Be proactive in creating your own on-line presence. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools for gaining new business and ensuring customer satisfaction. People love and trust input from previous customers. It’s in your best interests to let your website provide them with that information. Recent testimonials or a gallery showcasing your latest projects for example. Your business may be advertised on an on-line directory, but how do you know that the information is up to date? 50% of small businesses have seen search result listings for their business that are not accurate*.
7. A website helps to target a larger audience, enabling your business to grow
Your website will provide an alternative place for you to sell your goods or services. Remember, 90% of people in the UK are on-line. That’s lots of individuals browsing for a business like yours.
8. It’s always accessible
Your website is always open for business, 24/7. It is busy promoting your services, answering questions and selling 365 days a year. It never takes a holiday, asks for a pay rise or complains. It should be your perfect employee!
Okay, I agree, I need a website! But what’s next?
Should I hire a professional web designer?
Well that depends on your budget. You could employ a professional web designer. Be aware, however, they cannot just go away and make your ideal website in isolation. It has to be about team-work. No one knows your business as well as you do. You have to be involved in the process. You have to provide the content.
At James Middleton Training we could offer you a “build a website in a day” training. It’s a private, one-day course that will assist you in setting up a fully functioning, mobile friendly and editable WordPress website in just 7 hours! We will support and lead you through all stages of the process. Your site is constructed by a professional WordPress pilot, with you as the captain! We will also show you how to add and manage content, 24/7.
Both sides have to do their preparation. We ask you a number of questions, so we understand exactly what you and your business needs and who your target market it. You collate images and content.
It’s a great way to get started with WordPress. You’ll be in control of the web build. You will know how to use, manage and edit the site by the end of the training. To be honest, a website is never finished. It should grow and develop with you. There are no limits!
Can I build my own WordPress site?
Of course, it would be a cheaper option if you could build the website by yourself. WordPress is a simple-to-use but highly flexible and powerful content management system. May be you’re considering doing the work yourself? That is fine. WordPress is free, so apart from the small cost of a domain name and server space, you could have a website for next to nothing. Right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that.
Your website may be your customers’ first impression of your business and first impressions are crucial. Don’t let your lack of design experience result in losing business. Your website isn’t just about bells and whistles! Something flashy may be visually amazing, but is it easy to use, or does it work on smartphones? If potential customers can’t find what they want in a few seconds, they’ll be off. A website has to be be designed intentionally around your target market. It must be easy to navigate with interesting, up-to-date content. If it’s not, it may do more harm than good. Furthermore, your website needs to be fast! Page speed is a big ranking factor with Google. A slow site may be penalised. Read this great article on the subject by Moz.
Can I learn how to build an effective WordPress site?
I’m glad you asked! There are many places that offer WordPress training. James Middleton Training are based in Dawlish, Devon. We offer a range of WordPress training days, from a one day beginner courses for individuals, to bespoke WordPress courses for businesses. Prices start from just £150 per person (correct when written). The beginner course would show you how to create a WordPress site from scratch, or allow you to take control of an existing site. It goes through the installation process, through to installing themes, adding pages, images and galleries and organising your menu system. The training course also demonstrates how to make your site mobile friendly, and how to keep it updated, making the site secure.
All aspects of learning are centred around the latest SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practises. This will enable you to gain greater visibility within search engine listings. Everything is designed to empower you to make your website work for you. It should be a natural extension of your business. It’s so important that you know how to manage your site; how to edit it, keep it secure and looking fresh. As I mentioned earlier, a website is never really finished. It should be kept up-to-date with the latest information about what you offer. If it isn’t, people may assume you’re not trading any more, or that you simply lack imagination! Ouch!
Hopefully you can see that having a website is not an extravagant luxury, but an essential (and affordable) business tool. It’s not just for large, national or international businesses, but also for small, independent businesses. It’s not just for those selling on-line, but also for those who offer a local service. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page, or an entry in a businesses directory. Your website is your opportunity to demonstrate what is so special about what you do. Come on, there are no more excuses! Make getting your website up and running your next goal!