It’s a good question and one that needs a proper answer
I was asked this question once, a long time ago. It completely stumped me and I wasn’t sure how to answer it properly. Imagine that, being put on the spot to justify the existence of an entire industry. Your industry.
It’s a good question though and one that, after 6 years of practicing web design and building websites, I feel I can now give this question the answer it deserves. Ultimately, we’ve all got to realise that It’s not about opinions, you either need one or you don’t. There shouldn’t be a month long discussion on it; if people in your own circles, or business, are trying to get you to take the online world seriously, you owe it to your business to at least figure this out properly.
You might be reading this thinking it’s a bit of a silly topic to cover, but it’s not. You might be curious because you’ve been asking yourself this very question and have been looking for an answer that actually makes sense. You might even be looking for ways to convince your boss, or a manager, to think differently about websites and the online world, you just want them to give it all a chance.
All I’m going to say now, whether it’s you, your manager, a friend, whoever, if there’s no interest in understanding how websites can help a business, money and opportunities are being lost. What kind of business owner would be happy with that?
This post will give you clarity and help you make an informed decision about the future of your business or the tools in which to help you build your case.
5 common reasons why businesses don’t make their website a priority
A huge number of UK businesses still don’t have a website or one that’s good enough.
I’ve worked with lots of different businesses and their owners and through running my own business, LA Designs, I’ve spoken with a great many more. Speaking with business owners at the enquiry stage or at networking/business events, I started to develop an understanding of why so many businesses still don’t have a website.
It seems to me that there are generally four main reasons why websites don’t play a greater role in many small businesses growth plans.
Lack of money
You’ve got two options when it comes to building a website, do it yourself or you pay someone to do it for you. Needless to say, if you’ve got no experience and you’re intending to make the website a DIY job then it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to generate any additional sales, leads or new opportunities from it. A website is an investment, the more you put into it, the more you can expect from it. Invest nothing, get nothing.
Zero budget start-ups, I get that you’ve got no money, that’s okay. But having no money year after year means that you’re not running a successful business, you’re surviving in a job that you’ve created, likely on your own.
It might be time to speak with someone like us who understand the digital world because we can help you think about how to start generating more profit in new or different ways.
Building a website might not be as expensive as you think. To work with the kind of people who can actually get your website to deliver the results you expect from your site, you can get the ball rolling with a budget of £750. This should be enough to get a small but professionally built website up and running. If that sounds like a lot to you, wait until you see the long term costs of a poorly built website.
Lack of time
Time is one of those things, a bit like money, that people always say they don’t have. We all have time but it’s down to us to work out how best to use it.
One of the biggest and most frequent crimes I see small business owners making is spending too much time working in their business rather than working on it. As the main decision maker it’s your responsibility to ensure the business is doing as well as it possibly can. It needs to grow, it needs to be cared for and that can’t happen if you keep yourself constantly busy with the day to day running of everything.
A team of specialists is always going to outperform a team filled with people who do a bit of everything, even if you need those people to get businesses started. The trick is to recognise when to move on from that stage and get more people in to do the things you don’t need to do any more.
Ask yourself this. Would you rather be earning £20 an hour or generating £100 an hour for your business? To do that, you need to focus on growing your business. So, if you’re always too busy, is it for the right reasons?
Even with a very small weekly commitment, say 3 hours, you can work with a web designer to build something great. They usually offer additional services to reduce the amount of time you need to spend on the project.
For example we include advice and guidance on all web content (text or images) in all of our projects, but for those who need to save more time we can source photography and take a more involved role in written content creation.
Not knowing or refusing to learn anything about the online world
Human nature tells us to fear what we don’t know. If we don’t know about something, avoiding it means it can’t hurt us, right? Sure, it might help you avoid the bad, but you’ll miss out on the good too.
If you don’t know anything about websites or web design, there’s nothing wrong with that. Really, there isn’t. One person can’t know everything about everything, but that’s different to not recognising the value and growth that having an online presence can bring to your business.
We recently worked with a well established company that have been trading for over 20 years. They face very little domestic competition and do well internationally. The problem was that their website, despite having a shop, was only managing one sale a month. Some months, zero. All of their international orders were conducted face to face, people would fly out for meetings regularly.
I didn’t have to spend much time with them to realise that the decision makers, (much to the frustration of their staff), didn’t really care about their website or selling online. They weren’t fully engaged with the project and the project received disproportionately small levels of investment compared with other marketing activities.
Despite this, we built them a new website that, within a week, increased their sales by over 315%. The staff were so excited, this opened up the possibility of new roles within the business and a brand new frontier in which to conquer. Unfortunately the decision makers still weren’t interested, and that was that. It was a nice project to work on but there was so much more that could have been accomplished.
If we can deliver a 315% increase in sales under those conditions, imagine what could have been achieved if the decision makers were fully engaged and committed to the project.
What Sort of Businesses Don’t Need A Website?
Okay, so, whilst there are plenty of businesses that do need a website but there are genuinely some that don’t. From what I can see, there’s only one question to consider here:
Are you entirely happy with your business exactly as it is now or do you want it to grow?
In order to answer this question properly, you’ve got to know exactly what business growth actually looks like.
When I talk to people about this, a lot of them don’t actually know what that entirely means. Of course they have a rough idea of what it is but there’s a lot more to growth than people might realise. It’s not just about wanting to become the next Uber, Microsoft or any other global brand.
Size isn’t the only way to measure growth. If you’re interested in any of the following, then you’re interested in business growth:
- Reducing the time you spend on business admin tasks
- Increasing efficiency in the tasks your staff carry out
- Making sure that every penny you invest in marketing gives you a tangible return
- Making it easier for people spend money with you
- Better understanding what people expect from interacting with your brand
- Eliminating time waster or low quality enquiries
- Making it easier to turn enquiries into paying customers/clients
- Helping people understand why they might need more of your services/products than they first realise
- Breaking into new markets, locally, nationally or internationally
- Helping your business to run without your direct hourly-to-hour involvement
- Making more money with less effort
If any of that is important to you then you need a website
You’re never too small to achieve the success you can’t even see yet. Try and you might just surprise yourself.
Not only do you need a website, but you need to make it a priority and invest in it properly.
Business growth is about making life easier for you and your team (if you have one), cutting down on the stress and reducing the effort required to generate the same amount of profit. It’s just as important to businesses with 4 figure turnovers as it is to corporate giants.
How can having a website achieve all of that? It seems like a lot, right? Technology is a fascinating and wonderful thing and it can really help people accomplish a lot. The best thing about it is that virtually all of the benefits listed above can be had by companies of any size.
There’s a lot to the world of web design, having a strong and connected online presence and all the rest of it. It’s too much to cover in one post but it’s something I’ll be covering in a future post.
Talk to us to find out how a new website can help your business grow
Having a website for the sake of having a website is a waste of your time, you may as well not bother. Having your niece, nephew, your friend’s 16 year old child or a student with zero experience is not the route to take here. They can make you a website, sure, but it’s not going to do anything for your business.
They might even be able to make it look pretty, but what would you rather, a pretty website or something that actually generates sales and enquiries?
Bad looking websites actually make people think less of everything you’re working so hard for. It makes them wonder why in 2017 you’re still struggling with the basics. It’s a trait of businesses that don’t last long, and now, even the general public knows this.
Yeah, people launched successful businesses in the good old days, before websites were around, but I guarantee they were making full use of whatever the latest, most effective marketing tools were available at the time.
When business owners say they really don’t need a website
Now, there are always exceptions to a rule and, genuinely, some businesses don’t need a website. Most business do, but can’t make it a priority just yet.
When people say they don’t need a website because they’re busy enough already, what they often actually mean is that they can’t handle anything more because they’ve hit a limit and don’t know how to increase their capacity. There are ways to do this, but if you’re only goal is to run a “me too” business then this isn’t for you – and perhaps a website isn’t either.
Take a restaurant, for example. If they’re full every night, how can they justify spending lots of money on a website that’s only going to get them more customers they’ll have to turn away? The answer, again, is growth. If that restaurant chose to start really maximising their business potential, they’d need a website.
Having worked with several restaurants I know that no matter how popular they become, they always have times, usually during the day before and after lunch, where they’re practically empty.
Now, you’ve got to wonder, they have a nice building, staff and expertise to offer and times where there’s nothing to do. Why not start offering cooking classes or other ‘experiences’ to attract more people?
Why not go one step further and start selling their own branded products directly on the site? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had some amazing sauce or recipe in a restaurant I’m unlikely to ever go back to (do you travel much?) but I’d definitely buy some products, or a recipe book to take back.
If you want to do things differently or give people new or unexpected reasons to spend money with you then you’ll need a platform to communicate with those people. That’s where a website comes in.
Even if you recognise that you need a website, businesses aren’t always in the position to be able to splash out on a new website, so let’s cover a few scenarios where a business is interested in growth but are being held back by other factors.
Dealing with not having enough money
Sometimes people find themselves in difficult situations. Redundancy, unemployment maybe their business idea wasn’t so great after all. If all of your income is tied directly to the hours spent working, that’s a job, not a business. It’s a bad job if you’re struggling to pay the bills or can’t invest in any marketing at all.
If you really want your business to succeed you have to look at ways of freeing up funds. Sole traders, look at your personal expenses, do you really need that new TV/car/computer/game/other luxury item? Can you get a part time job somewhere to help get your business off the ground?
Larger companies can look at staff costs. By automating processes, your employees can spend that time completing other tasks. Will that offset the cost of a new website? Have you had all large or recurring expenses and capital costs sanity checked?
We had a client once who paid over £2,000 for a computer that was only ever used to check emails and browse the internet. They didn’t know they could have spent a third of that and it wouldn’t have made any difference to them. Unfortunately by the time we found out, it was too late.
No one said setting up or running a business would be easy, personal or short term sacrifices should always be made to benefit the long term, otherwise you’ve got a miserable future ahead of you! Think about whether or not your prices are high enough, this is a really common issue with new business owners. Are there other products or services you can offer to earn more money from existing clients?
If you’re struggling to find work, new clients or to make sales, think about new ways to attract people. For example people in digital industries tend to rely exclusively on online marketing to get work. When I discovered networking, it was a fantastic source of new clients and great contacts. You could look at joining local meet up groups, just find more people who might need what you offer.
If you sell products, think about renting a shelf in a more established store or creating connections with people that have large followings of people who might be interested in what you offer.
How to find more time
As I said before, everyone has time. You have to choose where and how to spend it.
How long do you spend working? 9-5 doesn’t exist for most business owners. Did you know that most are working an average of 50-60 hours per week? Not because they have to, but because they want to. How do your weekly working hours compare?
Another common issue I’ve picked up on is business owners who feel the need to micro-manage everything. They spend all of their time making sure that everyone else is doing their job properly or they want to do literally everything themselves. I think to an extent, we have all been guilty of that at some point but for some, that’s just a way of being and if that’s you, it’s really hurting your business. Start trusting people or find more trustworthy staff, so that you can focus on making your business better.
If you’re telling yourself that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to free up time, there’s something wrong. If you can’t do that with your business, how do you think people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson or any world leader manage to not die of exhaustion? Finding time is not an impossible task.
Recognising when you need help
First time business owners – or anyone else – don’t feel ashamed!! I’ll be the first to admit that there’s loads I wish I knew more about when it comes to running a successful business. We can only do so much with the time we make available for ourselves.
What I learned, after 6 years of running my own business, is that there is SO much more to business than you can ever really be prepared for. I studied business, law and English at A level and although collectively they were inredibly useful, it just wasn’t enough.
All I would suggest is to not try and guess your way to success, because most of the time you won’t even realise you’ve made a mistake until it’s too late. Seek advice from people who have already done what you’re trying to do. I always look back and think that if I had spoken with someone who had real experience, I’d have probably acheived a lot more by now.
It doesn’t even matter what industry they work in, if they’ve been going longer than two or so years, there’s almost certainly at least one piece of great advice they can give you. Start building relationships, not a list of faceless service providers. A lot of our success has been due to the involvement of other people, whether it’s a referral or an introduction, don’t be a lone wolf.
We’ve had some first time business owners in the past who just wanted to do everything their way, because they thought they knew best. With the exception of one, all of the others failed and no longer exist.
We aren’t business advisors, but you get to a point where you can see the mistakes other people are making and how it’s going to hurt them. Most businesses, especially ours, grow alongside their clients. So the better you do, the better we do – which is why we’re always happy to share our experiences and knowledge with clients, and it’s why all of our services are designed to improve business results instead of just trying to make things look pretty.
So basically, if you want a happy, growing and successful business, you will need a website.
How to get started when thinking about creating a new website
If there’s a chance you think you’re going to make the decision of getting a new website in the future, that’s fantastic and I hope it brings you the success you want. But there’s a right way to go about it and then there’s a wrong way.
Web Design Project Scope and Costs
Building a website isn’t a one off cost. It grows over time alongside your business. The more you do, the better you are and the bigger you want to be, the more you need to invest into your website. This is how your website, like an accountant, becomes more valuable to you than what you paid for it initially.
A large part of the long term costs are going to be tied to making your site rank highly in search engines for specific search phrases, (e.g. “web design worthing”).
The absolute minimum budget we’d recommend for web design is £750. The most successful projects we work on make sure that they have a strong brand in place before even touching the website; we always recommend doing branding first as well.
A lot of time goes into building something that makes your life easy, is going to last and won’t cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds to update, maintain, repair or “un-hack” later on – which is what typically happens with low end, template or theme based websites costing less than £750.
Websites are for promoting strong brands and businesses, don’t launch before you’re ready
Without your customers or clients, your business wouldn’t exist. Keeping them happy and doing everything you can to attract more of them should be your number one priority. Time and time again we see companies launching with brands that just do not make any sense for the people they’re trying to target, or it just looks plain amateurish.
It matters more what your customers think about your brand or logo than you do. Be proud, it’s your business, but don’t be silly, it’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for the people that keep your business going.
If you’ve got the branding sorted out already, and you know that your customers or clients are going to love it then we typically recommend a starting budget of around £2,000.
If you need help creating a strong logo or brand, then we recommend a budget of between £2,500 – £4,000.
These are recommended prices, the reality is that pricing is always specific to your needs, which can have a big impact on price. The best thing you can do is talk to a web designer to find out the best way to start your web design project.
What’s the difference between a £750 website and a £2,000 one? I hear you ask. It’s a question we get asked a lot. Simply, the more you invest in your website, the higher the chances are of converting site users into paying customers or clients, as well as increasing the speed in which it can do that.
Just to quickly summarise what we’ve covered, if you want to grow your business, get a website and have it done properly.
If you don’t think you need to grow, think hard about that because business growth doesn’t mean just getting more clients or customers, it includes streamlining your business and making life easier for everyone involved.
You might not be in a position to get a website right now, but if business growth is important to you, you need to do everything you can to get yourself into a position where you have a website and the ability to grow it on some sort of regular basis.
Building a website and leaving it for two years before looking at it again is what stagnant or failing businesses do. Don’t be like them!
I hope this has helped people in some way. If you disagree or want to add something, please leave a comment below. Alternatively if this is something you’d like to have a chat about in more detail, we’re always happy to have a chat over the phone or meet up and discuss things in person if you’re based in Worthing.