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I Need a Website for My Small Business – Where to Start?

So after spending hours on a certain domain name registration site – you know, the one with the female race car driver as its spokeswoman — you’ve finally found the perfect domain name for your small business. Now all you need to do is find a web designer and tell him to get going on the website, right? Wrong! In today’s digital world, an effective website is the cornerstone of any small business’s marketing strategy, so it’s worth it to start off on the right foot. Here are a few things to think about before your initial meeting with your web designer.

where-to-startFirst, you need to decide what the function of your website will be. What exactly do you want it to do? Will it primarily serve as an online business card, with basic information on you and your offerings, along with a way to reach you? Perhaps you want to capture the names and email address of prospective customers by having them sign up for a newsletter or free report. Or maybe you want to give out helpful tips through a blog, or even sell your products or services online. Whatever you want your website to do, it’s extremely important to determine all the features you’ll need before any of the work begins, or you may end up wasting a lot of valuable time (and money) adding functionality later on in the development process.

Next, how hands-on will you be when it comes to maintaining the website? You may just want to let your design firm handle everything – even writing and posting to your blog – so that you can concentrate on other business tasks. On the other hand, you might want to be able to publish a blog post, change an image, or update your product or service offerings yourself without on waiting for someone else to do it. Your decision on this matter will most likely affect the technology used in constructing the website, and so your level of involvement needs to be determined early in the process.

Finally, how will people find your website? Putting your domain name on your business cards and marketing materials is a no-brainer, but ideally you’d like potential customers to be able to find it through other means, as well. Proper search engine optimization (SEO) can help your website rank highly in the search engines, thus increasing traffic. Integration with social media, email marketing, and other online and offline marketing methods can also help get more traffic to your website. Whatever methods you use to get viewers to check out your website, make sure it’s worth the visit by making it easy to use, up-to-date, and engaging.

Now you’re ready to schedule that meeting with your web designer and get cracking on your website!

About Bryan

Bryan

Bryan is one of the founders of bMighty2 and is the COO. Along with being a huge advocate for small businesses his extensive background as a small business consultant gives him a unique insight into small businesses and their unique challenges and needs.

When not steering the ship here at bMighty2 you can find him out with his two daughters chasing them down a mountain either on a mountain bike or on skis.


Comments

  1. Rick Noel says:

    For many small businesses, where to start is the barrier, along with time and money. It’s hard to fathom that in the US, 58% of small businesses currently don’t have a website and its 2013! With so many low cost and even free options and the shift in buyers behavior to a more online first type of approach, it boggles the mind why it’s not closer to 100% of businesses, sort of like a telephone number or street address is. The good news is that Intuit and Google have teamed up to help small businesses come online by offering a free domain registration and website hosting for one year along with some howto type resources to help business owners get started. It’s hard to see why a small business currently without a website would not take advantage of this offer given that that nearly all online consumers, 97% use online media when researching local products and services, even for purchases made offline. Thanks for sharing.

    • admin says:

      Yes Rick it is hard to believe in this day and age given the way consumers shop for products and services that a business would choose not to have a web presence. There are a lot of alternatives out there for low cost or free sites. And while not always ideal it’s at least a starting point. On the other hand, I can understand why it would be so daunting with technology that a lot of small business owners aren’t use to and the ever shifting landscape most small business owners have a hard time figuring out where to step in and are afraid of making mistakes.

  2. Terry Marcos says:

    That 58% stat is mind boggling. I think the problem is not so much the cost or know how, but maybe not understanding the value in having a website. These small business owners think, “I’ve been in business for 20 years without a website, so why now?” Unfortunately, people are opting for Google over the phone book and it’s only a matter of time before things get ugly for them.

    Wix.com or Squarespace.com are good places to start for small business owners who want to build a site themselves. Both sites are super cheap and relatively straight forward. Setmysite.com is in the same price range, but they handle everything for you (although I’m not sure if they’re doing ecommerce at this time if you need that).

    These are just some of the countless options out there. Come on small business owners! It’s a digital economy! If not now, when?

    • admin says:

      Good point Terry. At this point cost isn’t a factor with so many options available to small business owners to build websites. But it’s important to remember having a website is only the first step, and while an important one, doesn’t guarantee results. As the playing field gets more crowded the more important it will become to have a multi-channel marketing approach. On the other hand, some business owners won’t ever come around and for some it will mean slowly watching their business slip away.

  3. john says:

    Im a small business owner thats wanting to join the online presence. But as said in the other posts, it is scary for me. Im good at what i do but know nothing about making a website. The business is still in the start up stages so not alot of free cash to pay a designer. Ive looked into squarespace and it looked impressive. But want to make sure i use a sitebuilder that will make my site actually searchable. Any direction and advice would be grealy appreciated.

  4. Scott says:

    Wow, Really??!! last post was in March of this year? I was in a similar situation to Jon, however, I have a bit of tech knowledge, but not a lot. I am looking to start a business and am looking into website options before I start up. I come across t his site and see that there is a great article on web sites and small businesses. So from the outside, Admin comments a bit on this site in answer and support of a few comments, then someone posts about needing the services and mentions “not a lot of free cash” and the posts come to a screeching halt. I do understand that it is an older article, but the information is very relevant. THAT is why I am looking into site options before I make the leap. But to me, to come across this post and it be in the condition that it is, I feel that bMighty2 is not the place to go. Even if someone contacted John personally, I would think that bMighty2 would want to put a public image out there that they are willing to help, no matter what the situation is. I guess at least I hope to get a flame e-mail about my post, at least I will know that bMighty2 actually still checks its posts.

    Anyhow, I will be looking for a hosting company over the next few weeks, a web presence is imperative in todays economy, and it is getting more important.

  5. Lee James says:

    Fantastic article. If only all clients could read and take note of this before they went to a web designer.

  6. Dheerthan says:

    I’m a website designer, I would want all my clients to read this article. You cant explain it any simpler.

  7. Steve says:

    Great advice. I’ve found that so many people try to overcomplicate the situation when starting out.

    The most popular I find is when someone spends ages on a site like ThemeForest with no idea who their target market is, to me that’s like buying a car before you learn how to drive.

    It’s also the exact reason I wrote my book http://www.planyourwebsite.co.uk – I knew there was a need for it but didn’t expect it to get such an awesome response from Amazon when it hit 5 bestseller categories. It was at that moment I realised that people don’t have a clue when it comes to Planning their website.

    Would love to do an interview with you so we can create something awesome for people to listen to 🙂

  8. Curtis B says:

    I see this article is a bit dated, but the advice is still good. Thanks for that!
    I own a Digital Agency with a expertise in Web Design and Development and I see a few of the questions you answered come up often, such as: “What is the reason for my website?”.
    It seems a lot of small business owners understand that they “need” a website, but they don’t full understand “why”. It’s an interesting recurrence I see often… In today’s day and age it’s an absolutely must for pretty much any business to have an online web presence. Simply put, be everywhere your potential customers/clients are.

  9. Ellie says:

    very useful and helpful advice here! Thanks a lot. As Dheerthan said- all that want a website done should read this article!

  10. JayStack says:

    Very nice tips for those of us who are just getting started….

  11. Of course this is an old article but it is still relevant in many ways. Also another good article on this site points out the dangers of using DIY sites (http://bmighty2.com/5-reasons-why-diy-websites-suck/)

    But just to bring the discussion up to date a bit, you need to make sure your new site is ‘mobile friendly’ – meaning the site works well on mobile devices like your smartphone. Probably half of your web traffic will come through a mobile device so you’ve got to get that right.

    And these days we have many more options for getting the right balance of what you, as a business owner, need to do and what your web service provider can do to keep the site up to date, secure and in top shape.

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