By Matt Smith

If you guessed “website,” then you are 100% right. It is quite shocking that in this day and age, when so many people use the internet to search and shop for products that so many small businesses do not have a website; it is practically like throwing money away. It is not a small percentage either, according to a GoDaddy report, 59% of small businesses (defined in the report as “businesses with 5 employees or less”) in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia lacked a website.

If you are a small business owner who is still not convinced about the usefulness of a website, then let me give you a couple reasons that show why having a website is very important for small businesses.

A good website can make a good impression on potential customers.

Before checking out a store, people will often put the name of the business into Google, Bing, or whatever search engine they use. Having a good website means that you can make a good first impression on the people searching for your business online. A well designed website makes people interested in your business; on the other hand a poorly designed website, or no website at all may turn people off of your business.

People do not really window shop anymore, they do not walk down the street looking for new places to shop. They are far more likely to go through social media, Google, Yelp, online message boards, etc. to find new places to shop. As a small business owner it is crucial that you be well represented in the online world, it adds a real sense of credibility to your business.

It is a great way to provide information to your customers.

You want to make sure that all your information, like email, phone number, address etc., are easily found online, and the best way to do that is to have a website. But, I am not only talking about that sort of information. A website is a great way to give info about the services you offer or the types of products you sell. Good descriptions and informative writing can really help entice a potential customer to come to visit your business. And if you are a small business that sells physical products, having an online catalogue of all the items you sell in your store is not only really convenient for your current customers, but you can also draw in new customers who are searching for that product on Google.

Keep up with your competition.

If your local competitors have a website and you do not, then they have a serious advantage over you. As I have already discussed, there are tons of people who look for businesses almost entirely online. If they see your competitor’s website, but not yours, then the potential customer will almost certainly buy from your competition. With how easy it is to get a professional looking website these days, there is no excuse for letting your competition have such an easy advantage. The top search engines like Google and Bing both account for location when giving search results.

So, if someone is looking for “plumbing services,” the top results will be local plumbers; so by not having a website, you are just giving away those potential customers to your local competition.

A website is a great advertising tool.

Think about it, people browse the web and can stumble upon your website in many different ways, for example they may get linked to it on Facebook or Twitter. In this way your website can act as low cost, 24/7 advertising. It is always up and it can be accessed at any time. You can also use your website to inform people of special deals, or giveaways that can entice people who are on the fence about your business to become customers.

Making a website.

In the GoDaddy report we mentioned earlier, the small business owners who did not have a website were asked why they did not have one, most gave the same few responses. 35% said there business was too small to warrant a website, 21% said they lacked the technical expertise, and 20% said they did not want to take on the costs associated with maintaining a website.

I have already covered why no business is too small for a website, but I also wanted to address the concerns of the 41% who either lack the technical expertise to make a website or think it is too costly. The internet makes it very easy to create and maintain a website at next to no cost. If you do not have the time to create a website yourself, then go online and search for people willing to create one for you.

There are tons of freelance web developers who would be happy to make a good website for a small price; you can find people willing to create a website for as little as a couple of hundred dollars. And if you are interested in doing it yourself, there are plenty of free tutorials and websites dedicated to helping you set up your own site.

You can go on and try your hand at creating a free website (and then you can upgrade as your site grows bigger). The costs associated with maintaining a website are not very high either; you can renew a domain every year for around $10, and that should be your only real maintenance cost.

Hopefully, any small business owners reading this now understand just how crucial it is to have a website. As time goes on, the amount of people who do their shopping online, or browse for products online will increase dramatically.

Small business owners cannot afford to be left out of the online marketplace. If you do not already have a website, go out, and either make one yourself or hire someone to do it ASAP; it will be one of the best business decisions you will ever make.