Does your small business have a website? No? You might want to check your calendar and see that it’s 2016 already. If you’re not selling basic necessities, your buyers will most likely look for your products online. How many do you think will find you, if you have no website? Probably, not a great lot.

Oh, you do have a website? Great! How does it look? Is it just a simple landing page with your phone and email? If it is, you might have as well put in on yellow pages for the same effect. Having just a simple greeting card online will not market your business in any way.

What if we told you that your small business can look big online? And what if your customers and clients treated you as a respected, reputable and reliable businessman? For how long would your business actually remain small then?

In this article, we see how small businesses can benefit from shiny websites, while keeping the budget within reasonable boundaries. This is the first article in our small business website tips series, which is aimed to help owners and entrepreneurs make a small business website.

Why bother?

At this point, you are probably thinking: “What does it have to do with me?” Your business may look just fine to you as it is, and all your clients may know you well enough even without an overly pretty website.

But let us outline the benefits of a website for small business. Let’s say, you are living in a town of 1,000 people. 20 of them are your close and distant relatives. 50 more are your friends and acquaintances. 250 more are their friends and acquaintances. So, it’s fair to say that you cover an audience of 320 potential customers. But what about the remaining 680? And what if your town is 10,000 populated? 100,000? A million? How many times a day do you think people hit the search button on their desktops, laptops or mobiles? And what do they get displayed in their search results?

Make no mistake. Today, everything and everyone is online. Even your grandma is more likely to learn something new from the Internet than from any other traditional offline source. Soon enough - if not already - no business will be considered such if it cannot be found on the web.

Small Business Website Builders

Some small business owners have probably heard about website templates. Today, there is a number of online services which assure you that you can “build your website in several easy steps”. While mastering these small business website templates can be easy enough, would the end result really suit your business?

Have a look at a typical Wix template, for example. This is the first image Google throws at you when you type in “wix website”. On a scale of 1 to Steve Jobs, how many customers do you think such website would attract?

A typical website template

Robert Mening of recently published a research on popular DIY website builders. He signed up for all of them and found out what they had to offer. You can see the outcomes of his extensive work published here.

Mening's research proved that the only thing a template website can do for you is make your business represented online. Pretty important, no doubt about that. But what about other goals, such as attracting clients, building reputation or promoting reliability? Full-scale small business web marketing is where template builders hardly excel.

Another con of templates, which many fail to embrace - they are not capable of making the right website for you. Pictures may be pretty, and menus may roll up and down nicely, but no matter how you fine tune, it’s never what you really want. Templates are limited to what is built-in, and have no ability to think outside the box. Your perfect website can only be man-made.

When you move into a new house, how do you make it a cozy place to live? You can arrange everything yourself, or hire a professional interior designer. In which case do you think your home will look better in the end? Same thing with websites - when they are made by professional web producers, they create just the impression you envision. If you’re still not convinced, here is a good list of reasons why your business will benefit tremendously from a custom designed website.

“But that probably costs a fortune!”

This is what we hear a lot from small business owners. Even if they agree that a genuine website is a smart investment, somehow many still think it costs some crazy money. Well, let us assure you - it does not.

Small business website cost depends highly on what you want your website to do for you. Big, corporate-scale websites, or the ones devoted to billion-dollar brands can indeed account for $100,000 - $250,000 and more. But as a small business, you only need a few simple things: get known, get reputable and get easily accessible. A customized landing page, accompanied by 2-3 auxiliaries, which take into account every peculiarity of your business, will get it done for you.

And such solutions are available starting as low as $5.000. This is probably what you are making in a week or two. So, why not invest it into a beautifully designed web page, which will serve your business flawlessly for at least a couple of years, or up until the time your business has grown to a whole new level?

An example of custom designed small business website

Make the right choice

Finding a suitable small business web design company may present a challenge. A good thing about web studios is that you can quickly and easily find them online, and handle all communication process from your laptop, too. The bad thing about web studios is that you are never sure who they really are. When you only know someone online, how can you be certain they are not some inexperienced college dropout, but indeed a capable and reputable web producer? Here is how.

  • First, look at their website. A good web studio must have a great website. Great web studios will have impeccable, breathtaking websites. This is pretty self-explanatory - a website is a showcase of the agency’s skill.
  • Next, look at their previous works. If you like what you see, chances are they are able to deliver it for you as well.
  • Finally, see how they respond. Write a short inquiry or leave a callback message. Good web studios have client management process fully automated, and get in touch within an hour or two. When you receive a reply or a Skype call - feel free to discuss the idea of a website you have in mind.

Web studios are based all around the world, so we suggest that you don’t limit your search to your particular town, state or even country. It really does not matter how far they are from you, as long as they deliver the perfect digital product. In fact, you can even receive a better result for the same money, if you hire a web studio overseas!