Why Your Small Business Needs a Website and How to Create Your Own

Two women browse a small business website

Why Your Small Business Needs a Website and How to Create Your Own

When you’re an entrepreneur, your to-do list is never-ending. But there are a few tasks that need to stay at the top of the list. Like paying taxes. And building and maintaining a website.

It’s hard to argue with paying taxes. After all, staying out of jail is cool. But many small business owners think they don’t need a website. “It’s too expensive!” is one excuse. “But I have social media!” is another. But the truth is that neither of these reasons hold water.

Learn what a website can do for your business — and how you can make it happen.

5 reasons why a website is a necessity for your side hustle or small business

1. It’s an online presence you control.

Your business might have a big following on a social media platform, but what happens if that platform ceases to exist? Or the rules change, or it’s no longer popular?

A website is owned media that’s yours. You don’t have to worry about it going away. Instead, you can focus on telling your business story the way you want to. You can build brand awareness without the constraints a social media platform can impose.

A little bit of FOMO applies here, too. Own your domain name so that someone else doesn’t. Your business is Bob’s Mattress Shack, but what if your biggest competitor buys the domain www.bobsmattressshack.com? That’s a problem. Avoid it by scooping up that URL and using it.

2. A website gives your business credibility.

A site that looks professional shows that you are serious about what you do. It helps you establish authority and trustworthiness. And it’s a great place to share client testimonials that demonstrate that your business is legit and good at what it does.

An email address that’s from your domain boosts business credibility even more. Communication from [email protected] looks more professional than [email protected]. Most web hosting services offer email services, too. It helps with your branding and can give a professional edge, even if you’re operating out of your garage or basement.

3. It helps customers and search engines find you.

All that talk about search engine optimization, or SEO, is legit. A website makes it easier for search engines like Google to find your business. This, in turn, makes it easier for potential customers to find you, too.

When finding you online is a cinch, it’s easier for current customers to refer their friends. Potential employees will be able to find you, too. Think of a website as a light shining on your business. Unless you’re a vampire, it’s hard to be successful in the dark.

4. A website is a powerful tool for finding leads and making sales.

Your website can act as a virtual showroom that’s open 24/7. Outfit it with ways for people to get more information, ask for help or even make a purchase.

Most social media platforms don’t let users buy on the spot — you need to direct people somewhere. And that somewhere is your website. Even if e-commerce doesn’t fit your business, your website can still include information about your offerings as well as a way to sign up for your mailing list. And using  a form for contacting customer service feels a lot better than making a comment on social media and hoping someone from your business sees it and replies.

5. It’s an easy way to scale your business.

Your website is your storefront. And because the term “world wide web” is no joke, a website means you can have a store in every town in the world. It’s an opportunity for unlimited business growth. You can use your business website to promote your brick-and-mortar locations, too.

Even if your venture doesn’t have a physical location or selling online doesn’t fit your business model, a website will still help you scale. Remember all that stuff about a website making it easier for potential customers to find you? You need those prospects to grow and meet your goals.

Still not convinced? SCORE has more reasons why your venture needs a website.

Affordable ways to create your business website

You can hire a web developer to build your business website, or you can do it yourself. It all depends on your budget, your tech savvy and your available time.

Today, the old stereotypes about each option don’t really apply. You no longer have to engage a huge, expensive agency to work with a professional developer. And thanks to a variety of templates and easy-to-use tools, DIY sites function well and no longer look slapped together.

Most early-stage entrepreneurs opt to use a DIY website platform. With this path, you can anticipate these one-time and ongoing costs:

  • Domain name: $0 to $60 a year per domain
  • Web hosting: $40 to $500 a year
  • Theme or template: $0 to $100 one-time fee
  • DIY website builder: $100 to $400 a year
  • SSL certificate (often included in hosting): $0 to $250 a year
  • Basic e-commerce capabilities: $144 to $430 a year

If you choose to build and maintain the site yourself, you don’t need to know how to code. Tools like Squarespace and WordPress are fairly intuitive and allow you to use “drag and drop” features to create the pages that best serve your business. It is, however, a good idea to have the details of your brand identity close by. The site’s colors, font and imagery should be consistent with the overall business brand.

Not sure which website builder platform is right for you? This guide from Forbes compares them for you.

What content should be on your business website

You’ve got a website. Now what?

Web content falls into three big buckets. You need them all:

1. Contact information

This is the most basic data. It’s not glamorous, but is it ever important! Think of how you can make it easy for people to communicate with you in a variety of ways. Include:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Hours of business
  • A physical address and map if applicable
  • Links to pages on social platforms
  • Contact form

With the exception of a map and a contact form, you can make this info easily available on the footer of each page of your site.

2. Company information

Now we’re getting a little more in-depth. Consider what you want people to know about your business and what sets you apart from the competition. This information can live on the homepage, a “Services” or “Products” page and/or an “About Us” page. Include:

  • The story of your business. You want to build a relationship with prospective clients, and this is the place to do it. Talk about who you are, what you do and what makes you unique. Check out our blog about telling your business story.
  • Images of your team and your work personalize your site. They help visitors feel like they know you. They can help sell your services, too.
  • Details about the products and services you offer. If you say you sell mattresses, don’t assume that visitors know you sell boxsprings, too. Be specific and provide details.
  • Logos and links to professional organizations or certifications. Involvement and accreditations help sell you and your business. Provide a complete picture by including these links.

3. Marketing and branding

This information applies only to your business and differentiates it from other ventures. It includes:

  • Logo
  • Brand elements. These are the colors, font and images that help people know at a glance that it’s your business.
  • Customer testimonials. If you’re just starting out, you might not have reviews yet. But you can — and should — add to your testimonials regularly.
  • Call to action. What do you want visitors to your site to do? If you want them to call you, say that and give the phone number. This is the sales pitch of the site. Don’t let your salesperson stand around with his hands in his pockets, saying nothing.
  • Email sign-up form. Whether you use email marketing or not, start building your list now.
  • E-commerce capabilities. If it works with your business model, the ability for people to buy products on your site can be a game changer. Check out our step-by-step guide to building an e-commerce business.

Once you get these basics covered and see how people use your website, you can start making changes. You may see the need to include an FAQs page or decide to start a blog to build traffic. You can also revisit your content for SEO. Learn how to optimize your content so search engines can find you.

Website help for your Kansas City business

Creating and maintaining a website can seem daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. KCSourceLink’s Resource Partners are here to guide you.

Check out our Resource Navigator to learn about more than 230 local programs that support entrepreneurs — including organizations that can help with marketing. The KCSourceLink Calendar lists all local workshops, classes and events for small business owners, too. In there, you’ll find sessions about making the most of your web presence.

If you don’t even know where to start, KCSourceLink’s Network Navigators can help. Just answer a few questions, and they’ll create a free Personal Action Plan. It’s an individualized checklist of what to do and who to meet to meet your business goals.

Thumbnail by KOBU Agency via Unsplash

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