Does your small business really need a website?

Nowadays you can build a website for just about anything, but building a business website costs time and money. If your business got so far without one, you may be wondering if you need to have a website anyway. Especially so if you are running a business where computers are not in everyday use. So the big question to answer is: Is getting a website worth the time and money?

After years of helping small businesses in Bulawayo, and around Zimbabwe to build websites, we’ve discovered that not every business needs a website. We’ve summed up some of the things you could use to tell if your business really needs one or not.

Some businesses do not need websites

These days it’s so rare to get such companies, so let’s use an imaginary situation. Let’s assume as a website designer I visit a local restaurant to try and sell the owners a website. After an insightful discussion, explaining the benefits and how other businesses have benefited from getting one, I ask them if they think they could benefit from getting a website. If their response is: “We started this restaurant with the intention of keeping it a small business to serve folks from our community. But, folks have been inviting so many of their friends that we’ve become so busy we can’t even take some time off even on holidays. We really could do with fewer customers.” Then getting a website would not be a good idea for them.

This, however, is not the case with most businesses. If for example, you need to keep in touch with your old clients, attract new customers or grab some market share from your competitors, then getting a website is a must.

Your business needs a website if…

1. You worry the economy is currently not good for business, and need additional avenues of getting new clients:

It’s news to very few that the Zimbabwean economic environment is bad at the moment. It might be a while before things get better. So because of this, most businesses see it sensible to add more avenues of acquiring new customers. With more than 4 billion active users worldwide, the internet is the best place to find and to be found by potential customers.

2. You care about not inconveniencing your customers

Nowadays, people search for everything on the internet. They search for business hours, directions, phone numbers, and just about anything about businesses that provide services they need. So it might hurt your business to assume if they need something from your business they’ll pick up the phone to call, or perhaps drive to your office or workshop.

3. Your competitors already have websites

If some of your competitors have websites, they may well be getting customers that could have been yours. When your potential customers assess your business and that of your competition, they may conclude that your business has been left behind in the dark ages. Old customers could also assume that you’ve gone out of business since there’s no modern way of getting in touch with you.

4. Newspaper ads are not bringing you as much business as they used to

Back in the day, newspaper advertising was a must. Everyone bought the newspaper for the stories and the classifieds. Now things have changed a great deal. Newspapers, now publish their stories on the internet, and readership of their printed editions is taking a nosedive. So if the newspapers have a good reason to look for readers on the internet, what chances do you have reaching your target audience in the printed classifieds?

5. You care about being relevant to your customers

Procrastinating to get a website may be costing you more business than you realize. Google receives 5.6 billion searches for products, services and other things per day. It’s safe to assume that thousands of them are from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Amongst them perhaps, are searches for your products or services from your potential customers.

The fact that you’re reading this on our website, means you appreciate the value of getting information on the internet. Whatever type of small business you are running, your potential customers are looking for information about your products or services online just like you. So if your business needs a website, you may start wondering ‘How much does it cost to build a one?’
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