Do you still take your Yellow Pages out of the packaging? The days of finding a local relevant business in the big yellow book are all but over; paper directories are now little more than doorstops and makeshift stools, overtaken by the unstoppable force that is the internet. Search engines come with us everywhere and are increasingly becoming the first port of call to track down anything and everything that we need. Why is it then that according to the Association of Town Centre Management only 37% of small to medium businesses actually have a website at all. That 37% includes every page that never gets updated, every piece of inaccurate information and every lifeless email address and every site that does not really explain what the business does. Your site does not have to be fancy or even highly functional but it should be well presented and professional in order to encourage customers and reassure them that you can get the job done right.
The world of the web can be daunting of course but so is going into business in the first place – there is no such thing as an entrepreneur who has not at one time or another faced a difficult task. Many small businesses feel that they don’t need a dedicated website, they are local people with no need for the world wide web but they could not be more wrong. Back in July Chris Turner our Executive Director gave a brilliant piece of advice to local small business at the Vista Print Night School here in Winchester, ‘if you haven’t got a web strategy then you haven’t got a strategy’. It’s true. As a paid up member of Generation Y I can honestly tell you that a lack of web presence for any business, particularly in the service industry, makes me immediately wary as do pages that have clearly not been updated for long periods of time. Staying offline might seem like a simpler way to live but just because you technically can manage that way as a business it doesn’t mean you should.
Having a simple functioning website that gives a bit of information about your business is actually not as large a task as you might initially think and there are plenty of web developers who specialise in working with small businesses. You might event discover that you really enjoy this area of business in which case you could check out a resource like Code Academy which will teach you the basic building blocks of web development – after all coding will soon be a part of the primary school curriculum and you don’t want the kids to overtake you. Having your own website is also useful for posting on your existing web channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
The internet has irreversibly changed the way that we do business and whilst it may be true that the right kind of business can survive without the web that is no reason to argue that it should – once you’ve built yourself a web presence it’s out there, flagging your business as the answer to the Google, Yahoo and even Bing ponderings of potential customers and you can wait for them to come to you. There’s little point in determinedly carrying on without a website just because you can. Why not keep it local and find a Winchester based company to help you out here.