As the internet becomes increasingly prevalent in our society, small businesses need to understand what the benefits of a website and the internet are, as well as how to align themselves to reap the benefits alongside their larger colleagues and competitors. Over the next 10 or 20 years, being online will become more and more imperative.
Small businesses that have a website are able to access millions of additional users. This is especially true when you have a responsive website, because this gives users the ability to connect with you on the go. Even if you are a local area shop, your business has benefits of a website. If I am uncertain of an area or I am looking up something that I don’t usually use, then I search for it on Google. Once I find a few companies, then I start comparing them and I use their websites to do this.
Many small businesses that want to get a website say they want one “because, we know we need one.” This is not a very good reason to want a website. In fact, this “reason” for getting a website means that they have not thought out their online strategy and it means that their online strategy is very likely to fail. Once many small business owners don’t see anything coming from their websites, they tend to have a dismal perspective of how effective online marketing really is and their perspective becomes, “I don’t need a website” or “I don’t need online marketing”. People who have bought into this mentality are not positioning themselves for more business. Even if they get tons of referrals and are always busy, they can still grow their business, get a bigger location, make more money, etc.
So, what is a better reason for getting a website other than knowing you need one? Well, as I alluded to earlier, the answer is online marketing. Your website is the one place on the entire internet that you can completely control the branding, what is said, how the company is positioned, and so many other aspects. Even on social media, you can only control the business page that you own. People can still say what ever they want about your business and competitors can act like customers and leave bad reviews. On most social media platforms, you cannot control the entire look and experience of the website. If you have your own website, this is not an issue.
Furthermore, having a website that explains your services/products and a blog to educate your users, means that you are able to create content online that will enhance your ability to be found when someone searches for you (even locally). This is a huge competitive advantage and companies that do not utilize their website for content creation, put themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Everything in marketing and business is going online and companies that shift to online faster have the best chance of realizing growth and eliminating the competition that gets stiffer each year. So getting online early has great advantages. Companies that do not get online are becoming less competitive and are running a higher risk of eventually going out of business.
Another aspect of ensuring the future of your company has to do with demographics. Being relevant to younger generations is very important for the longevity of the business and having something to pass on to future generations. A looming reality is that if you don’t have a competitive website, you don’t look serious. While this is true in general, this truth is magnified with the younger crowd.
Guess what! If you are not online, your competition is online…and if you are online, (yep!) your competition is still online, but hopefully not doing as well, because you are there taking business from them! Benefits of a website, like getting your business online is a great way to become more competitive and grow your business by taking market share. Companies that are not online to begin with are like a baseball team that doesn’t even show up to the (online) game!
Another great benefits of a website is having a website is that you can acquire leads on your website while you can do other things. Having these systems in place helps your sales team and helps the company to save time (time is money) as a whole. Prospects are very used to online forms and they fill them out all of the time, all of us do. So, why shouldn’t your company benefit from this widely accepted use of internet space?
For those who have products or services that can be sold online, why would any business not take advantage of this? It is extremely profitable to run an eCommerce business, because there is less overhead and the potential for online traffic easily trumps the amount of traffic that you can get in a brick and mortar store, regardless of the location. If you are a small business that sells widgets or services that are able to be sold online, you stand a lot to lose by not going online.
My seventh and final benefits of a website should be resoundingly clear by this point: online marketing and websites give you massive potential for growth! Never has it been easier to reach the masses through any medium. Twenty years ago (even 10 years ago) reaching people online was not as easy as it is today. Everything is now made to be simple to use, so there are more people online now than ever.
As I said before, small businesses being online will become more imperative over the next 10-20 years. Companies that get online sooner will likely face less competition than those companies that procrastinate in their journey to the world wide web.