I occasionally get asked this question and as a business owner you have to ask questions such as this because you need to be convinced that you are going to get a good return on your investment. In fact you would be amazed at how many senior managers I have met who will tell me that it is obvious that you need a website, but they cannot tell me why. It is just something that their IT people or consultants have told them they need.
If you cannot clearly articulate to yourself or your employees the answer to this question then you will never get the most out of your investment. So, let us explore this question by going through the different areas of a typical business. By the way, I am more than happy to take questions through the contact form supplied on this page.
Individuals or institutions who lend money to businesses tend to do a great deal of desktop research on you and your business. Not only will they want to discuss your business plan in detail but they will care very much about how you present yourself to the world and specifically, your marketplace. These people are usually technology savvy (or their support staff are) and they have reviewed many business plans and they know that lack of a website, or worse a poorly designed website is not a good indicator that you are a wise investment for them.
A website is your “shop front” or “face” to the world. It needs to be present, it needs to say the right things about you, it needs to look good and it needs to function very well.
The Internet Society (yes, there really is one !!) produced a report this year which was grandly called “The Global Internet Report 2014” . It is marvellous bedtime reading but here are some facts for you to think about. In 2006 there were 1 Billion internet users, in 2011 there were 2 billion internet users and we are currently on track to hit 3 billion in 2015. 89.9 % of the UK population are internet users !!! That is 57.6 million internet users in the UK and 66% of those use the internet to shop on-line or search for businesses like yours to decide if they want to deal with you. Your business may not have a product or service that is easily sold on-line but people will look at your web site as part of their research into making a purchase.
If you do not have a website then you are largely invisible to these people and if your website looks like it was put together by a community of colour blind Baboons with content and customer experience supplied by Basil Fawlty (showing my age here!) then you just probably wont get that sales call.
Okay, so a good web site is great for sales and imperative for business reputation and image.
But hold on ! there is so much more, perhaps benefits you haven’t even thought about yet.
If you want to attract talented people, then you had better have a web site. Especially if you are recruiting from within the younger generation. If you do not have a good web site, then they may not want to consider you. The information on your web site will help them to prepare better for the interview, therefore making for a more productive meeting and reducing the risk of you recruiting the wrong person.
Improved quality of your product or service can be a significant side benefit of going through the process of designing a web site with a professional that knows what they are doing.
At the early stages of the design process you have to create your “Marketing Narrative” that is, your message to the world about who you are, what you do, why you do it, when you do it and how you do it. This is not a simple exercise and you have to get it right, because if this is not correct, then the whole web site design is potentially flawed. However, if done correctly then it sets a standard for the business, a standard that you now have to adhere to and produce time and time again. You have now made a commitment to the market place about what they can expect from you. The process of committing to this on a web site is a fantastic driver of quality and performance. Quality reacts to the application of standards and you have laid out this standard throughout your web site.
A web site can reduce your costs in so many ways.
- The time to take an enquiry reduces as people get the information they need on-line
- Orders are handled electronically and passed directly to an invoicing engine that emails them directly to the client with electronic payment instructions, hence also potentially improving cash flow. These can be orders for physical products or for time or space you sell.
- Orders are not lost or misplaced
- You can bundle inexpensive account management and project planning capability into the back end of the web site that helps you get better control over your operation.
- Inventory can be controlled better therefore improving cash flow and reducing storage costs.
With the growth of the digital infrastructure and it’s associated products there has never been a time before where so much capability has been made available to businesses of all sizes for very affordable prices. It has significantly levelled the playing field between large and small businesses. Those businesses that capitalise on this can make a future for themselves.
a web site is not just for Christmas it should be an integral part of your business and be managed and cared for. It is a business investment that should be taken seriously and therefore only trust serious people with the task.