It takes a lot to surprise me. My eyebrows rarely quirk and my mouth is never agape. Until today, that is.
I guess intuitively I understand that not every small business has a website. It’s a hassle to set one up and maintain it, not to mention the changes you have to make if you have new sales, fresh menu items, and the like. It seems likely that a one-man canoe tour operation doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on that, for instance.
But to know that less than half of small businesses have a website—with that report coming courtesy of Marketing Charts—drops the ol’ jaw a little bit.
According to the report, only 45 percent of businesses nationwide actually have websites. Of those, a full 41 percent say they don’t feel their business needs one. This is sort of like the vikings building boats, setting out with food, weapons and armor, and saying, “You know what? We don’t really need sails or oars.”
I’m going to go out on a very sturdy limb and say that better than half of the businesses who don’t have a website do need one, whether they see the need or not. We’ve discussed the need to evolve with the business world many times before here at Biz Engine, and if you’re not on the Internet, you’re a stegosaurus in downtown Los Angeles. Simple as that.
It is in many ways a question of evolution. An increasing number of people are relying on their phones, their computers and their GPS systems to find businesses. If you don’t have a website, there’s an enormous chunk of the market that is less likely to find you, with your listings in the Yellow Pages and your advertisements in newspapers. You may think you can’t afford a website, but can you afford to miss such a significant slice of your potential customer base?
I recognize that I’m painting with a broad brush here, but it is mildly stunning to know that such a significant percentage of small businesses don’t have any Web presence at all. If you have the means and the inclination, I would urge you to strongly consider having a site so more people can find you. It’s critically important in 2011 to be able to reach your customers online, where so many of them spent their leisure and work time.
Rather than leave you to hack through the jungle yourself, we’ll be following this piece with at least one post about easy ways to build a website early next week. Hope you’ll tune in.
What are your thoughts? Does your company maintain a website, and if not, why?