Why Does Your Small Business Need a Website?

by Denise O'Berry from www.allbusiness.com

Okay,so call me biased but I think every small business needs a website. But that's not what a recent survey of small business owners thought. So I'll just say, they don't know what they don't know and they are missing huge opportunities to grow their business with less effort. Here's the scoop from a recent news release that popped into my mailbox.According to the recent Discover Small Business Watch poll of 750 small business owners, many still believe they don't need a website for their business.

"Over the last three years we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of entrepreneurs who are going online to promote and grow their businesses, but the Web has yet to become a must-have tool for everyone," said Ryan Scully, director of Discover Business card, which commissions monthly research by Rasmussen Reports. "While traditional methods for marketing and advertising a small business still work, Web resources are starting to make a difference for a significant number of entrepreneurs when it comes to finding new business leads."

Discover has been tracking the business concerns and economic confidence of America’s 22 million small businesses since 2006, and some key trends are emerging with regard to online resources.
* The number of small businesses with their own Web sites has grown 36 percent in the past two years, but still fewer than half of owners have one. The number of small businesses that have Web sites grew from 33 percent in November 2007 to 45 percent in August 2009.
* Forty-six percent of small business owners said it is a myth that every company should have a Web site, 44 percent felt the opposite and 10 percent were not sure. Consumers seem to agree. While 46 percent of them say that they expect every business will have a Web site, another 37 percent don’t think every company needs one. The remaining 17 percent weren’t sure.
"Just because a small business doesn’t have a Web site, doesn’t mean it can’t be found on the Internet,' Scully said. "Most telephone listing services give their business customers some kind of online option, which means a search engine can probably find a phone number or address for most of the businesses you’re looking for."

I see Scully's point but having a listing in an online phone directory severely limits the possibilities of reaching out to customers.

When asked to choose from a list the biggest reason why they don’t have a Web site, 41 percent of small business owners said that their business doesn’t need one, 19 percent indicated cost, 16 percent chose not enough time to monitor and manage,10 percent selected some other reason, 9 percent said complexity, and 1 percent answered not sure. The remaining 4 percent had no doubt: They chose the option: My business will never need a Web site.

"That’s not so hard to believe," Scully said. "Many corner markets, drycleaners, bakeries and other mom-and-pop operations have enough neighborhood foot traffic that they really don’t need the Internet to turn a profit, even if it might contribute to one, but the need isn’t 100 percent. On the other hand, I’ll bet 99.9 percent of them have a phone."

Utilizing your existing customer base to turn a profit is a good thing, but not looking to the future is a big mistake. Yes, your small business does need a website.