We’ve always done it this way. There’s no reason to change.”
Ever hear someone say that about their business?
There’s a chance the business is struggling.
At least not in terms of having positive cash flow or growth.
It’s probably just getting by on its own.
And that’s if the owner isn’t giving a cash infusion here and there.
Remember the scene in The Internship at the pizza place?
Remember how Sal said something very similar to that quote above?
Or how about when he said:
We’re just a family run business, we don’t do the internet
There are a lot of people who think the same way.
It’s all based on one thing…
People Fear Change
One thing I’ve noticed during my time working with small businesses is that adapting to new anything is hard.
Change is tough for most people.
They resist moving to a new city or state because they’re comfy.
They keep the same job they hate because it’s familiar.
They stay at the same bank because switching banks sucks.
And they even stick to the same “tried-and-true” business practices.
I refer you to that quote about doing things the from the first line.
That’s a defense mechanism.
If you don’t change, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
And people, in general, are fearful of the unknown.
A new marketing technique is unknown.
Building a website for the first time is unknown.
Stopping what you’ve always done is an unknown.
And that’s scary, I know.
But it’s necessary to be able to adapt.
So why do all businesses need to have a website?
People Expect Your Business To Have A Website
I honestly don’t know what else needs to be said about this first point.
It’s almost like that statement alone is all that’s needed 😉
If a business doesn’t have a website these days, it’s almost as if it’s not legitimate.
A small business website today is like a listing in the Yellow Pages in the 1970’s: it’s a requirement.
Because if people expect it then they are disappointed when they don’t get it.
If they are disappointed, they are less likely to become customers.
And you don’t have a business if you don’t have customers.
So give the people what they expect (well, in this specific case that is)!
Your Business Needs To Be In Front Of People
These were the ways in which people used to advertise their businesses.
When was the last time you bought a newspaper?
Or even saw a phone book?
These days, everything is online.
You need to be where people are looking, and now that means online.
And what better way to get in front of people’s eyes when they’re online than…gasp…with a website!?
Control Over Your Content
There are certainly a lot of other online ways to market your products and/or services.
On some, you don’t own any of the content you put on there.
On others, you give the site owner consent to use your stuff in their own marketing or whatever they want to do with it.
(A little more about that will be addressed later on)
A website gives you complete control.
You’re free to do whatever you want to a self-hosted website:
- make it look exactly how you want
- use plugins to accomplish different looks and functions
- go into as much (or as little) detail as you want about yourself
- organize & style it how you see fit
But what about online yellow pages and newspapers?
Have you ever looked at those options?
The online yellow pages are just as bad as the social media networks.
You’re stuck using the pre-formatted style and can only give the information they want you to give.
Your own website allows you the freedom to do what you want, how you want, and when you want.
No Limits Or Constraints On Your Information
Twitter limits your profile to a limited number of characters.
Facebook limits the info you can provide on your business page.
Online directories are limited to text.
A website of your own, especially a self-hosted one, give you the absolute freedom to put whatever you want on it.
You can use text, images, videos, GIFs, PDFs, charts…whatever you can come up with!
You don’t have to worry about trying to cram a ton of info into a tiny space.
You can change the colors to match your brand.
You can put pricing tables for your services.
You can make everything about you–unlike social media platforms that surround your information with tons of distractions and ways to leave your page.
Reach Beyond Local Customers
Once again, time plays a huge factor in this situation.
You used to only be able to target and reach customers in your immediate town.
Or, if you wanted to drive long distances or fly to out-of-town clients you had that option as well.
Of course, if you happened to have multiple locations you could reach a few more localities.
With a website for your small business in the current era, you have zero limits as far as who you can market to location-wise.
You literally have endless reach!
Even The Smallest Businesses Need A Website
It used to be that you needed to have a massive advertising budget to get seen.
You either paid big bucks to have quarter-page or bigger ads in the newspaper, spots on radio or television, or feature spreads in the phone book or other directories.
If you couldn’t afford that, you were stuck with obscure little listings that really didn’t help.
The internet changed that.
You don’t have to have a $10k+ budget to have a website designed anymore.
And you don’t have to be some huge multi-national conglomerate with hundreds of pages of products, services or employee profiles either.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person operation such as a:
- Freelance writer
- Pet sitter
- Personal assistant
Or if you are a small team with just a few people.
It doesn’t matter if you do it full-time or not.
Now you can have a website that displays your credentials, qualifications, history, portfolio, whatever you want to show the world.
You can get in front of more eyes at a lower cost than you ever could have a decade or more ago.
Everything In One Place
There are lots of things you may want to convey to prospective customers:
- Rate sheets
- Business history
Let’s not forget about one of the most important things—your knowledge!
Sure, you can do a little of each on social media, but it’s scattered and not organized.
Let’s not forget, too, that it’s not smart to try being on every single platform.
You select a few target media platforms, put up some content but ultimately, you want one thing to happen:
People to go to your website.
There you can display all that you want to show them in one neat, organized, orderly place.
There, they can see exactly what you want, how you want.
Choose A Self-Hosted Website
Technically you “own” the content you post to sites which host your content.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have your content removed, or even your access revoked.
This goes for whatever site you use for whatever purpose:
- or any other site
You have to be very careful when it comes to the terms you are agreeing to when you sign up for these services.
Some can remove content based on the way they interpret the message.
Some can revoke your access without notice/reason and not even give you a change to grab your content.
Some–well, most–have a clause that give the site the freedom to use your content/likeness in promotional material without compensation.
Why would you want to allow that!?
Hosting your own site (called self-hosted) give you 100% control over everything .
You won’t have to worry about running afoul of some arbitrary “rule” about what’s allow or not.
You will also no have to worry about the issue of “what happens if the company gets bought or folds?”.
It could be easy to say “screw it” and not bother building your own website.
It could be easier to rely on social media or a hosting service to use as your site/portfolio/web presence.
It could be simpler to just ignore online altogether and focus on just “local customers”.
That’s totally up to you.
Just ask yourself–are you really that well off to be able to ignore the benefits of being online with your own fully-controlled website?
Personally, I wouldn’t want to miss out on extending my reach or knowing that I am in complete control of my image/presence!
If you are interested in getting started with your own self-hosted website, here are a few quick resources:
- Namecheap to register your domain name(s)
- Siteground to host your website
- Genesis by StudioPress for a premium, SEO-optimized theme
- ConvertKit for your mailing list
These four steps are the bare minimum you need to get your site going, and you can even get it started over a weekend!
How do you feel about having a website? Do you think social media is good enough? Do you think 3rd party hosted sites are good enough? Do you even think having a web presence is as necessary as some make it out to be???