Start your week with information and advice on starting your business! This column runs on Mondays every other week.
Having a website for your business offers a clear advantage. Most customers instinctively begin their search for a product or service on the web! However, according to a 2013 GoDaddy primary research study of over 3,000 small business owners in the U.S, a mere 47% of entrepreneurs have a website for their small business.
“You can’t get found if you’re not online,” says Steven Aldrich, Senior Vice President of Business Applications at GoDaddy.
Many small business owners are daunted by the prospect and think they lack the skills to register a domain name, build and update a small business website, and set up an online shopping cart. What they don’t know is that setting up a small business website is cheaper and easier than ever. It can easily be done in an afternoon with readily available tools.
The first step is to register a domain name. With sites like Yahoo! Small Business and GoDaddy you can do so for less than $10 per year. Expect to pay extra for more in-demand names or those among the growing trend of fancier generic top level domains like .pizza, .photography or .vegas, to name just a few. For a small additional fee you can get a domain-based email address, too.
Next, choose a website building platform – called a content management system (CMS) – such as WordPress or Joomla!, both of which are free for basic small business website functionality. Mobile optimization, ample bandwidth, search engine optimization (SEO) and an unlimited number of pages, plus the domain name – all for around $100-$120 per year, on average – make for attractive ROI. SEO can have a big impact on the organic ranking of your site and can be done through affiliate links, content exchanges, paid directories, and many other link-building tactics. CMS applications like WordPress use easy what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing where you can simply drag-and-drop text and graphics onto the page and quickly update information.
GoDaddy and Yahoo! SMB “provide small businesses the opportunity to have a website hosted on resources that someone else manages for a fairly modest monthly fee, and on a platform that you can easily adjust and maintain ownership of,” says Michel Theriault, founder of Success Fuel for Managers.
Theriault built a string of websites for his various management consulting endeavors and, a self-described geek, builds them himself. But as with anything, “consider the cost of your time,” he cautions.
If your needs are basic, try giving it a go. Otherwise hire a designer to use WordPress for you for several hundred dollars or even up to $1,000; hiring a developer to custom code a small business website from scratch could cost upwards of $10,000.
“You’re not a website design professional and you don’t intend to become one,” Aldrich affirms. The point is you don’t need to know a single line of code.