(Submitted by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)
Every business has a website, right? Just last week, I was looking for a particular business in the area. As usual, I pulled out my mobile phone and typed the business name into a search engine. What I found shocked me. NOTHING! I began to wonder how many small businesses do not have a website. I searched for an answer, and what I found was unexpected. Often small businesses do not have websites. The number of businesses that do not have websites is actually quite phenomenal. One source, Statistic Brain, states that a massive 75.2% of businesses do not have a website.
So why is having a website important for small businesses? If a business wants to gain new customers or even keep existing customers, they need to reach the customers where they are, which is most often online. Any business that does not have a website is missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available to them.
1) Is how potential customers find you – most people go online to research and learn about your business and products before they make a purchase. If you don’t have a website, you are missing out on all of this potential business.
2) Gives your business credibility and displays professionalism – most people just assume that your business will have a website since many businesses do. If you don’t have a website where you can refer customers, they may assume that you are a small time company that cannot meet their needs. A website will not only give your business credibility, but it also gives the impression that your business is bigger with more resources to serve their needs. One of the great things about the internet is that it levels the playing field for smaller companies to compete with their larger competition.
3) Offers easy access – having a website makes it very easy for people to find you, read about your business, and learn about your product(s) or service(s). People will frequently decide if they want to do business with your company just from the information on your website. It is true that if you do not have a website, your business may still be found in an online search in the yellow pages or another directory listing. But do you really want to leave this to chance? If you create your own website, potential customers can gain direct access to your site, where you reflect positively on your company and product.
4) Can be affordable (in some cases even FREE) and worth the time investment – there are a lot of small businesses that do not have websites for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is that businesses believe a website is expensive to create. Websites, in fact, can be expensive; however, there are a number of resources for building websites for very little or no expense at all.
As part of the America’s Small Business Development Centers, Ohio businesses can build and have hosted a FREE website. Please visit Google’s Free Online Tools for Your Business: Build a Free Website or contact me by email at email@example.com or call 740-289-2071 x235.