You Need a Web Site
Even if you're not planning on selling
a well-made Web site is essential for any business.
October 27, 2003 - By Tim W. Knox (Entrepreneur.com)
My business is very small, just me and two employees, and our
product really can't be sold online. Do I really need a Web site?
That's a good question. In fact, it's one of the most important
and often-asked questions of the digital business age. Before
I answer, however, let's flash back to the very first time I was
asked this question. It was circa 1998, during the toddler years
of the Internet.
was giving a speech on the impact of the Internet on small business
at an association luncheon in Montgomery, Alabama. Back in 1998,
which was decades ago in Internet years, the future of e-commerce
was anybody's guess, but even the most negative futurists agreed
that all the signs indicated that a large portion of future business
revenues would be derived from online transactions or from offline
transactions that were the result of online marketing efforts.
should your business have a Web site, even if your business is
small and sells products or services you don't think can be sold
online? My answer in 1998 is the same as my answer today: Yes,
if you have a business, you should have a Web site. Period. No
question. Without a doubt.
don't be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can't be
sold online. Nowadays, there is very little that can't be sold
over the Internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online,
purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real
estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you
can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.
marketing research firms predict that online revenues will range
between $180 billion and $200 billion in 2003. They also predict
that the number of online consumers will grow at a rate of 30
to 50 percent over the next few years. These numbers alone should
be enough to persuade you that your business should have a Web
me clarify one point: I am not saying that you should put all
your efforts into selling your wares over the Internet, though
if your product lends itself to easy online sales, you certainly
should be considering it. The point to be made here is that you
should at the very least have a presence on the Web so that customers,
potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors
can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the
products or services you have to offer.
said, it's not enough that you just have a Web site. You must
have a professional-looking Web site if you want to be taken seriously.
Since many consumers now search for information online prior to
making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your Web site may
be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a
potential buyer. If your Web site looks like it was designed by
a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first
impression will be lost.
of the great things about the Internet is that it has leveled
the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys.
As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression.
With a well-designed Web site, your little operation can project
the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse
is also true. I've seen many big company Web sites that were so
badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked
professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.
also mention that yours is a small operation, but when it comes
to benefiting from a Web site, size does not matter. I don't care
if you are a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant;
if you don't have a Web site, you are losing business to other
companies that do.
the exception to my rule: It's actually better to have no Web
site at all than to have one that makes your business look bad.
Your Web site speaks volumes about your business. It either says,
"Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have
created this wonderful Web site for our customers!" or it
screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my
site. Good luck finding anything!"
Web site is an important part of your business. Make sure you
treat it as such.
W. Knox is the founder, president and CEO of four successful technology
companies: B2Secure Inc., a Web-based hiring management software
company; Digital Graphiti Inc., a software development company;
and Sidebar Systems, a company that creates cutting edge convergence
software for broadcast media outlets; and Online Profits 4U, an
e-business dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs start and
prosper from an online, wholesale or drop-ship business.