Website for small business or not?

by ryohazuki222. Posted on Sep 09, 2020    15    52


I few weeks ago I started doing pro bono digital consulting for small businesses to help during COVID. (https://www.reddit.com/r/smallbusiness/comments/idfpai/any_local_shops_need_pro_bono/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf)

The most curious thing I’ve seen so far is that many folks don’t have a website. Some use Facebook as their website. Some have google my business pages. Some don’t.

Made me curious... is it just the folks I’m working with or does the larger pool not necessarily have a website set up? Would love to understand your reasons if you fall into that camp.

Also... feel free to just chime in and let me know what your digital “storefront” is. Curious if I’m missing something outside of web, google, fb, ig.


Comments

onedough 1

As a small business owner myself. I personally have run a dry cleaner, and a software company. And the answer to this just depends on the generation that owns the business. Most of the Ma and Pa owned businesses usually have their kids make them one online or have them find someone who can. They honestly would want to have it if it was easily maintainable and not having these web development companies charge them $160/mo for SEO and maintenance.

I once was asked by a family friend to see if they were being ripped off (I am a web developer myself). And I was surprised by the fact that they were indeed being completely ripped off with no work done on the site for over a year and a bill for maintenance and support when it wasn’t even being asked for.

I can think of many other reasons but there is a lot of misinformation about having your own website and having it professionally maintained. That’s why companies like Weebly and Wordpress exist, they were successful because of the fact that owners have had such a bad taste with professional development.

I started my business based off this knowledge. I offer my clients their own web application to get their business on the cloud and offer their customers a safe way to exchange business. It seems to make sense to them now to move to the cloud for services that no longer need to be in person.

Anyway hope my input helps you somewhat.

Best of luck!

Codex432 1

I agree with you.

I need a website. I want a website. I don’t want a payment plan for the rest of my life.

121Alvarado 1

This is why I don’t have one. I’m not knowledgeable enough to have a nice one that’s run well and affordable.
It’s a lot to ask for and there are endless shitty options out there.
I’d like a website but my business is so small I can’t justify the expense plus I do not want any more business whatsoever unless I find a good partner and that’s proving challenging.

onedough 2

I totally agree being affordable is also a huge reason why people can’t justify having a website.

When I ran my dry cleaner, I would cringe at the sound of someone saying the word “consulting” and “fees” when discussing about anything dealing with software or websites. But yet when my machine went down I would pay 5-6k without thinking about it because it was that important to me.

Websites for older generations kind of have that feel of it’s a nice to have but not a necessity. Younger generations don’t even think about it, the first thing they will do is create a website, and add a TikTok account before signing their lease.

121Alvarado 1

My thing is why do I need one. I don’t need clients.

And I became the consultant I hate consultants so much and charge half of what the others charge and I don’t fuck around. That’s why I don’t need or want any more clients. I could charge more but I have plenty of money so on principle I don’t.

  ryohazuki222 2

Oh interesting. Never considered the generational element....!

onedough 1

To the older generation it’s more about clarity and not feeling ripped off at the end of the day. If you are going to consult, try to be creative about how you do it. Approach the owners as if you are not a consultant but more of a son (or daughter) that wants to hear the legend of how their business was born and survived through 3 major recessions and how they managed to beat out their major competitors. Learn about why they are before trying to tell them who they can be. Gain their trust and then they’ll maybe give you some time of day to talk.

Just know that going to small businesses owners will be like going into a blender, one day they will tell you that it’s the best idea in the world, the very same day they will tell you it’s not for them and they’ll never use it. Try to understand why they are so agitated and defensive. Know that they have been burned by bad businesses and bad services out there before you even step in the room.

I can go all day about the younger generation but they only seem to listen to trends. They will pretty much act like their own consultants because they saw it on YouTube. Consulting them will only matter on how many followers you have on TikTok, fb, IG, Twitter, etc.

Xar6D4 1

I used to be of the opinion that as long as you could find contact details for the business online somewhere on Facebook, google maps, review sites, wherever; then that was good enough for a lot of small businesses. Most of the time I was going to a website was to find an address or phone number anyway.

Then I ran in to a string of situations where the details on Facebook/gmaps/review sites pointed to a business that no longer existed. Including phone calls with people unhappy that they kept getting called about a service they never offered.

Now I pretty much always open the website. My trust in third party provided contact details has been ruined. If it's something super niche and it's either the websiteless company or nothing I'll still go with the websiteless company, but if there's multiple options I'm going website. I google "town locksmith" and scroll past all the big company links until I see a domain that looks like it belongs directly to the company.

So yeah it would be odd for me to still say that you don't need a website, while I as a consumer place huge weight on having one. Potentially other consumers haven't had my experiences though.

That said, it existing is what I'm looking for. That you pay for hosting gives me way more confidence that you still exist than details existing on third party sites do. I'm not about to not do business with you because it looks bad. Build that shit yourself if you don't trust that design costs are worth it.

MediocreCommenter 1

If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.

Loose_with_the_truth 1

I hate when businesses use facebook, because you can only see it if you have a facebook account. And I don't. I'm not going to make one. So if your business/event/whatever only uses a facebook page, I will not be a customer.

wamih 1

As someone who has been in webdesign / small biz consulting for roughly 10 years.

They think "its fine" but its not because its 2020 and the old ways are dying, quickly.

121Alvarado 1

This is why I don’t have one. I’m not knowledgeable enough to have a nice one that’s run well and affordable. It’s a lot to ask for and there are endless shitty options out there. I’d like a website but my business is so small I can’t justify the expense plus I do not want any more business whatsoever unless I find a good partner and that’s proving challenging.

nikhilbhavsar 2

What business are you in? You could have a decent informational website for a few hundred dollars, promote it to existing and potential customers, and put an ad/banner on the site that you are looking for a potential partner. That way you can get the message out and find a good partner a lot faster.

121Alvarado 1

If you could create that for me I’d be stoked. So far it hasn’t happened despite the best of my abilities and money spent.
I rarely peruse websites so I don’t see why I’d want one.
I’m a cannabis consultant. I do all the permitting for legal growers.

nikhilbhavsar 2

I do design/develop websites, so that is definitely possible!

It's not about whether or not you peruse websites, the purpose of a website would be to have the information ready and out there for people searching for it. Think of it as a 24/7 ad/billboard (so to speak), which can display text, audio and video for a fraction of a cost of what it would have cost you traditionally. For the thousands of people who do browse the internet, how will they know that you even exist without a website, when their primary method of searching for anything (or anyone professionally) is online? And let's say you have social media but not a website, a normal visitor's response to that would be one of suspicion ie., the consultant is either a scam or someone not quite successful, if he cannot even afford to have a website.

The same goes for email as well. A professional email is exactly what it is for, professionals in terms of reliability and security. It can also be used as very minor/subtle marketing, when everytime you share or people view your email address it says 121Avarado@cannabisconsultant.com, instead of 121Avaradocannabisconsultant@gmail.com. The professional one mentions your name, the name of your website without your visitor having you ask you another question. That is another step removed to bring the visitor to booking a consultation. And with gsuite, it would only cost a few dollars a month. (sorry for rambling on about emails lol)

Why don't you send me more information about your work along with a few pictures and your logo, and I could create a quick sample site. And making a site for cannabis would be fun (am high as I write this lol) :)

121Alvarado 2

$200 for a website is a lot different than $200 a month. It’s not worth it for my business until I expand and find help which I’m struggling to do. I have the reputation and could blow up but sadly I don’t have the energy to do it myself. I don’t have a logo. Here’s some of my art though. I help people with cannabis cultivation and building permitting mainly.
I help people get permits to cultivate and all the other permits required to get the permits to cultivate from sellers permits to commercial building permits. Basically I’m a project manager. But at this point I’m so burnt I’m transitioning to more consultation than actual work at least until I find a solid business partner. My clients are okay with this so far and willing to do the work thankfully. mthings cherrylady

nikhilbhavsar 2

Not sure where you got the $200 a month. A simple one page website would cost $300 for the design/development, approx. $60 for the hosting (one year), and approx. $10 for the domain name. Assuming that you update and take backups of the website yourself (which is very easy to do) there are no additional costs.

Getting a website (and the kind of website, along with costs) depends on whether you want to be a consultant, or whether you want to have an agency that does the actual work. If you are burnt out, I would recommend focussing on consultation primarily and keep the actual work/business as a side business (from time to time only) till you find a business partner. And if you do decide to get a website, then you could promote the side business as well as invite potential partners on the website and turn that into a proper business as well.

121Alvarado 2

If that’s the entire cost I’m very interested. I’ve been saying for years if I can get paid for talking I’d be a millionaire and people are becoming willing to pay me for my thoughts and connections.

nikhilbhavsar 2

Great, send me more information and we'll get started. Please note that the cost does not include logo creation, images or content. I'll be happy to organize the information and make suggestions as necessary.

121Alvarado 2

Will do. Do you have samples?

nikhilbhavsar 2

Samples of graphic design or sites created?

121Alvarado 2

I’m bizarrely dyslexic

121Alvarado 2

Weird. I swear i read that you wrote that. Weird!

nikhilbhavsar 2

Maybe a moment of deja vu?

UncleFishKiller 3

Many companies don't need a website really, but I'll tell you where I see a huge potential, emails. Do you have any clue how many "professional" companies I deal with that have AOL or Gmail addresses? It's insane. I always wanted to offer an email service, one where I would register their domain and maintain an email service for them, adding and modifying their emails for out of office or change of personnel stuff. I figure a fee like $34.95/mo would be about right and these people could appear professional.

By the way, the key to perpetual revenue here is to own the domain yourself. You would basically lease it to them as part of your fee. It also keeps them from leaving. You couod offer a buyout option with some silly dollar amount, or if you want to be generous just let them have it for $99.

online-reputation 5

Yes, a website is crucial, because:

  1. It provides legitimacy and that you are real.
  2. Is a platform that you control.
  3. Fosters your online reputation.
  4. Is a central repository for content such as videos, blog posts, photos, white papers, etc.

    Good luck!
rohde88 2

I'm a law firm, but so far only host my videos on YouTube, do you think we need to re-host on my own website?

JaySayMayday 1

You are creating value by making videos that anyone can access and engage with. One common marketing example is a food company that provides free recipes. The recipes might not generate revenue but it provides multiple benefits--one, the recipes could call for the food products to be used in it which in turn creates more sales. Or two, if the recipes are popular enough it creates more engagement with the target audience. One successful example is Betty Crocker which sells food products but also has a wide range of popular recipes.

YouTube is a very popular platform and by creating videos that the target audience wants you're extending outreach and creating engagement with potential customers. The website is more of an online home base for your business, the center of everything--about us, contact us, schedule an appointment, our social media pages, etc. One key benefit that a website provides is that it can help customers find more details about areas of the business that they are curious about. For example, I wouldn't go on Instagram to schedule a consultation but I would go there to see what value a business wants to show.

CraigOpie 2

Keep them on YouTube and receive the revenue (if you end up getting the numbers).

rohde88 1

Ha I’m nowhere near monetizing but I get enough lead gen anyway

nikhilbhavsar 3

Embed the youtube videos in your website instead of hosting it yourself to save bandwidth costs

rohde88 1

That’s what we currently do

nikhilbhavsar 2

Your earlier comment implied otherwise

>I'm a law firm, but so far only host my videos on YouTube, do you think we need to re-host on my own website?

For a youtube alternative, check out Vimeo as well

121Alvarado 3

I don’t have a website because I don’t feel capable of creating or having a good one created.
I’ve tried and something always happens so there’s that.
I was using Facebook but at this point that place is so toxic and my reputation so rock solid I don’t need it.
And now we’re at my third reason I don’t even want more clients.
I’m stressed and overwhelmed as is. Why would I want more business?
Wanna help me get organized? I’m happy to pay in fact for a nice little streamlined business.


Same reason I do not have an LLC. I’m in CA and they are expensive and I’m no lawyer.

I do have insurance and a solid contract to be clear.

rohde88 2

How much money do you make from the business? I would think losing that is more expensive than hiring a lawyer for formation. I charge flat fees for entity formation, annual is only $800/year in CA

121Alvarado 2

I get it and to me that’s ridiculous. 08’ was a nightmare and I prefer low overhead.

I work about 10 hours a week and make around $39,000 a year from that. I also have some passive income from my farms that comes out to $40,000 a year.
I’ve got a great reputation and with zero advertising I’m always getting new customers. Sadly I also have health problems and don’t have more than that in me at this point until I find a solid partner.
And wow I didn’t realize just how little I work. My body is so fucked.
I prefer having a solid contract and liability insurance. I also put about 5 hours a week into my farms so it’s not entirely passive income just not a ton of work.

rohde88 2

No worries. It sounds like you understand the trade offs. It’s not because “lawyers are expensive “

121Alvarado 1

I’ve been working less the more my hourly income goes up so I’m not making more money but I am a lot happier and healthier. I wish I cared more about money but oh well. I’m tired.

121Alvarado 1

Not at all. I’ve got some great lawyers I love and use at my disposal in fact. My lawyer gave me the paperwork to file one myself for $75 actually.

CaptCurmudgeon 2

Where would you go to solicit this advice? I am considering going into small business consulting and your answer is very valuable to me.

121Alvarado 1

Sounds like OP is giving it pro bono to small business owners

  ryohazuki222 2

Thanks for sharing. If I restate what you said it sounds like...

1- customer acquisition isn’t a pain point for you
2- Facebook seemed to be good enough (though sounds like you’re questioning). Seems you did put together a fb profile.
3- not your skill set

(Prioritized)

121Alvarado 1

Yep

Codex432 2

Skill set is a huge factor. I’ve tried Wix and Squarespace and unless you have some knowledge and experience creating a design they suck. My business doesn’t fall into a premade template and so I have to create from scratch. I’ve already designed our site 3 times and they all look like shit.

121Alvarado 1

Exactly. I’m great at making it look pretty but I’m no web designer.

ivapelocal 3

Most businesses have some sort of website. The ones that don't probably think they don't need it or just don't have the bandwidth to make it happen.

A lot of these SMBs treat their business like a hobby. I know not all of them have the funds to make big moves online, but at least understand that everyone searches online when they need something.

drexter_infinity 6

Not sure if I can comment since I'm developing websites for clients for several years now. But I'll tell my experience with two particular businesses.

It was a business that had a website for several years but didn't get any result. Worked on it for a while and since the redesign, it's getting consistent traffic and appointments.

Same goes for another B2B company that had 0 online presence (the company itself is 50+ years old). They're getting several hundred requests for quote on a daily basis.

A website might help you out a lot. But depends on how much you want to invest in it. I often get requests to build sites that'll generate thousands. But when I ask what's their budget for marketing, they say that they'll build the site and traffic will come (it won't).

You'll need to have actual plan laid out for next 4-6 months. How you'll grow your social media presence if applicable, how you'll do both on-site and off-site SEO etc. If you invest in marketing, you can generate consistent leads. Especially if your competitors don't tap into same areas.

That said, you can get started with a domain for as low as $9/yr. Hosting would be around $30-40/yr for first year.

If you use Wix/Squarespace or any all in one approach, you're looking at minimum $20/mo. Even if they market the builders as easy to use, they have their learning curves.

Overall, making a website for your business isn't difficult. If you get a hosting plan with webpanel like cPanel, you'll get access to webmail as well. But making a website that'll generate leads is way more difficult than people think.

Lastly, if you want to generate consistent revenue from your website, you should invest 10-20% of the revenue in further marketing.

matthewcoaches 20

For me, a website, even if it's just a landing page with some information about the business, some links to social media, etc., makes me feel more comfortable with the business. Not sure why because literally anyone can make a website. There's some professional flair to a website that is well-designed, though.