You can easily find a small-business owner that will tell you “I don’t need a website.”
And they’re right— businesses that don’t want to be successful certainly shouldn’t spend the time and capital to build a website for their company.
Honestly, it’s tough for me to admit that every company doesn’t necessarily need a website. But any company that plans to compete in the ever-changing market and become successful in the future will absolutely need a website. A crappy one might do better than none at all.
Half of all small businesses don’t have a website to market their business online. This is not an inflated number. According to a 2013 survey of more than 3,800 small businesses conducted by Google and research company Ipsos, 55% of small businesses don’t have websites representing their company.
These numbers are outrageous when you look at how much the world has changed in the last 10 to 15 years. Consider the growth of smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and anything that has to do with the internet.
The world is forever changing. So why the hesitation?
I believe that the problem lies in lack of education and perceived complexity. Here are some of the objections that I’ve come across.
An Incomplete Understanding of the Benefits of a Business Website
As professionals in web development, we have failed to educate the older generation in the benefits of the internet and how it can be used to improve business. 76% of small business owners are over 45 and Facebook has only been around since 2004!
The digital age has only become common in the last 10 to 15 years. Our small-business owners did not grow up in a world of internet technology, they’re only adapting to what is most convenient to them and what is the easiest to understand. Since the average small business owner doesn’t have a dependency on the internet, it would be difficult for them to understand why their business would.
They also don’t understand how a website could help their customers.
Their lack of dependency on the internet, blinds them from the fact that the newer generation would be crippled without the aid and resources of the internet and that their business would be able to reach these customers more effectively online.
“Nearly all consumers (97 percent) now use online media when researching products or services in their local area, according to BIA/Kelsey’s (www.bia.com and www.kelseygroup.com) Among consumers surveyed, 90 percent use search engines, 48 percent use Internet Yellow Pages, 24 percent use vertical sites, and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.”
At the very least, small business owners should have their address or contact information on Google so when people are looking for them, they at least have a point on Google Maps. A business card or yellow page ad simply won’t cut it anymore.
By now it will sound like I’m beating a dead horse– I get it. Just to be clear, I am an advocate of figuratively beating dead horses if it means I prove my point. My point may seem obvious to those in the industry, yet it is still foreign to those who haven’t found a use for their business on the internet. It is only natural to have the idea that websites are complex, time-consuming, and not worth their time.
The truth is, anyone can build a website. Trust me, this article was written by a monkey on a laptop. It’s one thing to create a beautiful, functional, and fluid website, it’s another to optimize it so that people can find it and find use in it. Because of this reason there are companies like us that strive to making it easier and simpler for businesses to create a website and run their business online.
But what if my business is doing fine without a website?
Just because things seem ok now doesn’t mean everything is fine. That’s like jumping off a building and halfway down saying, “So far, so good!”
It may be true that these businesses are doing “fine” with word-of-mouth advertising and their current customer base, but this does not account for changes in the market or guarantee that they will have continued business. The longer it takes for us to realize the need for a website the more we give other companies the time to adapt and eventually replace us completely. Ignoring this concept is a recipe for entrepreneurial disaster.
So how do we fix this?
Simplification, Education, and Affordability.
First we make it easier for anyone and any business to get up and running online.
We then teach them how to take advantage of their online business, reach their customers online, and promote their website.
In order for these to be possible, we have to find a way to make it affordable and accessible to all business owners and entrepreneurs.
Having a website for business shouldn’t just be another business investment, this should be an absolute necessity for every small business. Period. Non-negotiable.