As a small business owner or one just starting out, adding one more item to your to-do list might seem overwhelming. Yet most understand that the time has come to get online and that it is the right thing to do for a successful, modern business. Like most things, taking the process one step at a time will make it more manageable.
Let us address some of the main concerns that small business owners have about establishing an online presence:
“I am short of time”
The majority of small businesses in the U.S. are operated by one person or fewer than four employees. These lean numbers put a lot of pressure on business owners to prioritise just how and where they spend their time. Being so busy, it is tempting to delay a project that does not seem as urgent as day-to-day business. However, building a business website or online presence can take as little as an hour. There are several online resources that make selecting and purchasing a domain name, setting up a website and choosing a hosting partner quick and easy.
“My products and services are not available for purchase online.”
Several surveys and our most recent Verisign small business survey found that an overwhelming majority of consumers search for local products and services online. Consumers also reported feeling more confident and comfortable with businesses that have a professional online presence with a website and branded e-mail. Many people today choose to communicate through e-mail, texting, or instant messaging. Customers want the convenience of looking up your website for a phone number or address, or finding your social network page to leave a comment or make an appointment. All of these new modes of communication are enhanced by your business having an online presence through a domain name and branded e-mail. So even if you do not want to be online, your customers want your business to be online.
“I am not technical”
Like the time issue, the technical requirements to use a domain name for branding your e-mail, redirecting your social media page, or creating a business website are probably far less than you imagine. There are many registrar (companies who register your domain name) and website hosting companies that have designed sites that make the process simple, quick, and inexpensive. You do not need to know any computer programming or be a “techie” to have a website.
“I am Doing Fine Not Being Online”
If you have a successful local business and you are not online today, you might resist the pressure to get online by thinking, “I am fine without it.” However, what you may not be aware of is all the business you are missing or all the conveniences you could be offering your customers. You need to make sure your business is ready to interact with your customers the way they want and in their natural stream of gathering information. People find local businesses using the Internet. They use search engines such as Google and Bing, they search on review websites like Yelp or Angie’s List, or they ask for recommendations via their social networks. BIA/Kelsey, which analyses the small business media landscape, reports compelling numbers on how consumers seek local products and services:
- 97 per cent of consumers use the Internet to research products or services in their local area
- 90 per cent use search engines
- 48 per cent use Internet directories
- 42 per cent use comparison shopping sites
Getting your business set up online is taking action that will benefit you, help your customers and set your business up for the future.