The internet has changed the way we see and conduct business. In the past few years, a considerable number of people have been rushing to take domain names and server space as they prepare to give their businesses an online presence. However, there are many small businesses that are yet to reap evident rewards by having a website.
A simple search will reveal that many websites for small businesses don’t seem to be serving any purpose. Most small business owners were convinced that they had to ‘go digital’. However, many of them had little knowledge of what it entails. Before you decide to put your small business alongside many on the web, there are several questions you must ask yourself.
Question 1: Do I Need to have My Business Online?
You will have to invest both time and money to have your website on the web. Even if you consider the affordable costs that you can take advantage of from webhosting sites, you will still be spending money every month to keep your site up and running. There are costs associated with the domain name, getting content for the site, and the cost of having the site developed. With all these costs to think about, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it?
The scope of your business may be such that having online visibility will not make a difference to your sales revenue. If having your business online will not have any positive effect on your profits, you need to seriously consider your options. There are still several reasons why you may wish to put up a site for your small business even if you don’t wish to make money from it. Some people want to tell others about their lives and experiences, while others want to pass on their skills through the internet. These are all good reasons to have a site for your business.
Question 2: What Are My Needs?
From the very start, you have to know exactly what you want to achieve with your website. Do you want to use your website to sell items or to get people to know more about your brick and mortar store? You need to know this before you make the decision to develop a website for your business. Your website will be created based on what you’re trying to accomplish.
There are various designs for websites ranging from the simple to the very complicated. A supplier of farm produce may only want a website to display their contact information so that potential customers can reach them easily. In this case, a website with hundreds of pages will not be required. If you want to have a catalogue of the products available in your store on your site, you may need a little more space. By knowing what you want, it becomes easier to achieve it, and maybe for cheaper than expected.
Question 3: What Will My Site Need?
To have your website online, you will need a few things including a domain name and a webhost. The websites on the internet usually operate from special computers known as servers. You have to know how much space your website will occupy on the server so that you can choose the right webhosting service. If you don’t understand the technical details of webhosting, you may be sold a service that does not meet your needs. Webhosting services such as Umbrellar Domains and Hosting can help you understand your needs better, so that you make the right decisions for your site.
Your website will also need content, otherwise it would be pointless to have it up. Content refers to the text, audio, images, and videos that are found on a website. Content like videos can make your site heavier resulting in higher hosting costs, so you may not want to overdo it. You can come up with your own content or you can have the content professionally created. However, with professionally created content, you are at an advantage with the use of tools such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that can bring more people to your website.
Question 4: How Do I Choose a Webhosting Service?
Depending on how serious you are about your website, choosing the right webhosting service is crucial. There are many factors to consider such as:
- Initial and operating costs.
- Additional services e.g. website builder, email hosting, and domain name registration.
- Support services.
The best kind of webhosting service provider to work with is one that will provide a complete set of tools that you need to get your site ready and online. Don’t just focus on the costs because free or low-cost webhosting usually has challenges such as frequent downtimes. Downtime is a period during which your site isn’t available e.g. due to server maintenance.
Question 5: What’s the Downside?
There are a few possible disadvantages to having a website. You may think that having to pay a certain amount of money every month is as bad as it gets but it can be worse. Your website will become one of the faces of your business. This means that your business will be associated with both the positive and the negative elements of your site.
Your website could be taken over by individuals with ill intentions and the damage that may be done as a result could bring your business to its knees. You could unwittingly give away a business secret. You could have a product that you’ve been manufacturing locally and making a profit. Someone could see the same product and start producing knock-offs halfway around the world. Before long, you could be facing competition from the knock off even in local markets.
You may also have to spend a lot of time maintaining your website and ensuring the content is up to date. This may not be easy since you’ll still have to run your actual business.
In Conclusion, before you decide to put up a website, decide whether or not you actually need it. Know what you want, work with the right people, and also consider the downsides.