I hear this all the time from potential clients!
According to the research firm Clutch, In 2017 nearly 30% of all small business owners in the US still don’t have websites. This is a significant improvement from 2016 when it was reported that nearly half of all businesses didn’t have one.
It looks like small business owners are quickly realizing that we now live in a time where your business is going to take a hit if you don’t have a quality website. Even with this reality, many small business owners are still under the belief that they don’t need a website.
Why Do Companies Believe They Don’t Need a Website?
There’s a lot of research out there to show why this is the case. However, I want to focus on what I’m experiencing on an almost weekly basis. I reach out to a lot small business owners that don’t have a website to see if they’re interested.
I always get 1 of 2 reasons as to why they haven’t set one up, and why they don’t plan on setting one up:
- I don’t need a website because I get all my business from referrals.
- I can’t afford it.
More often than any other reason, they tell me they get referrals and don’t need a website. The rest tell me they can’t afford it.
I will acknowledge that #2 is a perfectly legitimate reason to not have a website for your business. In fact, not having a budget in my opinion is the only legitimate reason. Having said that; I still struggle to believe that a business that is generating revenue can’t afford a website. There’s so many low cost options available that any business should be able to get a site up with just about any budget.
I suspect that many small businesses that say they “can’t afford it” actually can. I’ve met with many business owners who have shown they have a budget, only to waffle at the last minute on pulling the trigger to get started. More often than not, they will revert to money as the reason for not moving forward even though they previously indicated there was a budget.
Here’s what I’ve observed about this situation…
When a business does in fact have a budget for web services, but doesn’t want to spend the money, the issue isn’t affordability. The issue is actually the perception of value. They don’t see the value in having a website for their business. They know they should have one, they can afford it, but they don’t find it valuable.
Funny thing, this is the same reason for small business owners thinking they don’t need a website for their business. If a small business gets all the customers and revenue they need without having a website, they just won’t see the value in having one.
So in reality, it’s not that a business doesn’t need a website. All businesses should have a website! It’s that the decision maker doesn’t think there’s any value to their business in having a website.
The Value of Having a Great Website
So I will openly admin bias when it comes to having a website. I build them, love doing it, and believe all companies should have one. So yeah, bias.
Having admitted to that, here’s some more objective reasons why a small business should have a website…
According to Forbes, (not me) here’s 3 really good reasons to have a website:
- The majority of the first impressions your business will receive now come from the internet. This means most customers will look at your website and judge your business accordingly.
- People don’t window shop anymore. They do online research. If you don’t have a website, that research will be done on your competitors websites, and you will lose that business.
- Missed opportunity! Your potential customers WILL look for a website. Not having one, or having a bad one won’t put out a good impression and will cause the potential customer to go elsewhere.
I completely agree with these three points put forth by Forbes. I would also like to add some points…
- The “Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket” argument. If all your business comes from referrals, and it’s always been that way; who’s to say it always will be? Having a website will bring in more leads. This creates multiple marketing channels for your business in case the referrals slow down, or dry up some day. Even if you think it never will, it’s just smart business to have more than one lead channel.
- Opening to new market segments. Here’s the deal, more and more people are NOT asking around for a referral. This is especially true for millennials. Having a website will open your business up to new customers who prefer to look online rather than pitch an ISO (In Search Of) to their network.
- Your social media profiles are not a website! This is actually another reason people don’t have a website. Your customers do not see your Facebook page as a website, they know it’s a Facebook page. Having a link to your website from your Facebook page will get direct traffic to your website and you will look much more professional. Having social media profiles on your business, but no website looks very lazy and your customers may perceive it that way.
- Direct Sales! You can sell your products and services online. I’m sure you’re already aware of this. But just consider, if your customers can buy from you online; many will do just that. If you have anything you can sell online and you don’t have a website, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
- Level the Playing Field with Your Competition. Your competitors have websites. Many of them are highly professional, some are ugly and even terrible. Most consumers perceive a nice website to be a reputable good business, and a bad website must mean a not-so-good business. The good news is that small business owners can have websites just as nice, and even nicer than a big competitor. This truly levels the playing field since you have the opportunity to give just as strong if not a stronger impression than some of your biggest competitors.
So as you can see, there’s a lot more to a website than just a “Lead Generation Tool”. Your website is the official face of your business in the 21st century. With all the advantages a website can provide to any small business; it’s easy to see there’s tremendous value in having one.
One more thing to note from Clutch, According to the 2017 survey, 21% of the websites don’t work on smartphones or tablets.
Another thing I agree with Forbes on is that having a bad website is actually worse than not having one at all. If you have a bad website, the immediate first and lasting impression is that your business is bad. But if you don’t have a website, you simply lost an opportunity. This isn’t good, but losing an opportunity is far better than creating a bad public impression of your business.
This means having a website that doesn’t work on a smartphone is probably worse than not having a website. Websites that aren’t mobile friendly are extremely dated in 2017 and makes a business look like it just doesn’t care.
In my experience, most small businesses that don’t have websites choose not to have one because they don’t see the value in a web presence. However, times are changing fast, and the day is coming when referrals, and traditional off-line methods simply won’t be enough for small business success. There’s a ton of value in having a website that goes far beyond a “lead generation source” or an “online brochure / business card”.
Great mobile friendly websites can be very affordable and every business should have one. If you don’t have a website, or your website is outdated; it’s time to consider a new website.