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Do Websites Work for Small Business?

Here's a video we've done trying to answer the question "Do Websites Work for Small Business?" in which we make an analogy between websites and another common type of small business software:

Here's the transcript:

Do websites work for small business? Well, that's a lot like asking do accounting packages work for small business? the answer is yes

if you know what you want from it, and

If you choose the package and

if you set it up right and

if you work it right

then yes websites work for small business in much the same way that accounting packages work for small business.

First you have to decide what you want your website to do. what work do you want the website to perform? I ask all clients “what is this website supposed to do?” I get a deer-in-the-headlights look a lot of times.

At the minimum a website should be a replacement for the old school Yellow Pages ad it lets your business get found by the vast majority of potential clients and 97% of consumers look for products and services online these days. We’ll look at the details of a basic website in another video.

Just like choosing an accounting package, you have to choose software that will run your website. There’s a lot software out there: monthly build-your-own, point-and-click proprietary software, custom-built software, you name it. We recommend Open Source software. This is software that’s built and maintained by huge, worldwide communities that’s free to download and run. In fact, most of the websites out there use Open Source software in them. In our opinion, this path gives you most flexibility, greatest support structure, and least cost out there. Some small businesses tell us “We’re strictly a Microsoft shop. All our software’s Microsoft. We won’t run anything else.” Good luck on that when it comes to the web. Do a web search for “Microsoft web design hosting.” One of the only actual Microsoft links will be for Visual Studio Community 2015. Feel free to download it and try to build a website with it. You’ll still be trying to figure it out as your real business files for bankruptcy. Web design firms help you select the right software for you.

Web design firms also help you set the website software up and get you going. Back to our accounting analogy. Years ago, I asked my accountant if the rise of QuickBooks was hurting his business. He replied “No, it actually make a lot more work for us. See, the default ways QuickBooks sets up its accounts are wrong for most companies. Folks start using QuickBooks and six months later, they don’t know which end is up any more. We have to come in and straighten the mess out. It generates lots of billable hours for us.” You need someone who can come in and set up your website software right the first time and get you going.

Finally, you have to actually work the website. A website’s not like a picture you hang on the wall. An accounting system is something that you put numbers into and get insights out of. If you don’t type your orders and hours and costs in, you won’t get an good P&L or cashflow report out. A website’s something you put content into and get prospects out of. If you’re not putting fresh content in, you’re not going to get much out.

So do websites work for small business? The answer is “YES”, but they’re no more magic than accounting systems. A website will work for your small business, you have to put work in to get it working for you.

And here's the Photo Credits


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