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Why Every Small Business Needs a Website
Weíve all heard the excuses:
  • Iím a small business
  • Iím a home based business
  • A website will cost me thousands of dollars
  • I donít think Iíll get any business from a website
  • All of my customers are local, they can find me in the phone directory
The truth is that all small businesses should have a website. It doesnít need to be large; and, it doesnít need to cost you thousands of dollars to create and maintain. A small simple yet professional website is all that is needed to get your name out there and provide general information to potential customers.

Marketing Aspects:
Operating a small business today is more competitive than itís ever been. Even with your niche market, there will always be strong competitors in your immediate area. By having a website, you open up your business to a huge potential market.

For example, over 6 million Canadian households use the Internet (CBC News, June 12, 2002). Thatís works out to a minimum of 12 million people, just in Canada who would have access to information about your product or service via a website. Now, imagine the number of people worldwide who would have access to information about your product or service if you had a website.

The Sell:
Now consider this, our demographics are changing. The teenagers of the 90s are now in their twenties and have disposable income. These are really the first generation who have grown up with the Internet. Now they are making the purchasing decisions for their households. Where do they look first for information about products? The Internet!!

Using the Internet to do preliminary research on a product or service is now the norm. As such, 79% of Internet users and 38% of nonusers expect a business will have a Web site that gives them information about a product they are considering buying. (Advanced Technology and Libraries, February 2003)

In fact, 47% of all Internet users say that if a store provides product information online, even if it doesnít sell goods at its Web site, they are more likely to go to the physical store to buy the product (Advanced Technology and Libraries, February 2003).

Customer Service: This is where a website can set you apart from your competition. Your customers can now find out about you day and night, whether your physical store is open or not! You can let them know when you are open, provide them with directions, and answer some of your most commonly asked questions, all without putting a strain on your staffing resources.

More importantly, a website provides a way for your customers to interact with your company without necessarily having to interact with a person. For example, customers can fill out a feedback form on your product or service via your website. They can sign up for a newsletter or contest. Or, they can place an order online from anywhere in the world! Your customers are happier because they arenít limited to normal business hours to interact with your business.

Quick Facts:

Still not convinced? Have a look at some of these quick facts:
  • 1.7 million Canadian households report that they use the Internet to browse online catalogues to help narrow their purchasing decisions, but do not place orders or make purchases online. --Statistics Canada, The Daily Dec. 11, 2003
  • In 2002, almost 65% of households in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area have at least one regular Internet user.--Statistics Canada, CANSIM table 358-0002
  • Web sales for the 2003 holiday season was $18.5 billion, up 35% over 2002.--CNN Money.com, Jan. 6, 2004
  • 2 out of every 3 Canadian households (65%) using the Internet from home reported spending 20 or more hours each month surfing.-- Statistics Canada, The Daily September 18, 2003
  • About 37% of firms made purchases online in 2003, up from 32% last year and more than double the proportion that did so in 2000.--Statistics Canada, The Daily April 19, 2004
In light of everything mentioned in this article and the fact that the number of Internet users and online purchases will rise in the coming years, ask yourself... can your business really afford not to have a website?

The article
"Why every small business needs a Web site" was submitted by:
Sari Heiber-McLenaghan of InfoClear Internet Consulting
  © 2004 S.Heiber-McLenaghan
"...because a website is a terrible thing to waste"   www.infoclear.ca

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