So you’re a small business owner and you need a new site. Maybe you’re just starting out and need something online so people can find you. Or maybe you’ve already got a basic site, business is going good and now you need your site to help you get to the next level.
Creating a new website is a massive task, and it’s very easy to be overwhelmed by it all. But the first, and most helpful, thing you can do is to plan.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.Benjamin Franklin
The first step in planning for a new website for your small business is to ask questions. You need to find out where you are, what your goals are, how a new site can help you and even why do you want a new site.
There are a ton of potential questions you can ask about your business in this stage. So for the sake of time, here are three of the best questions you should be asking of yourself and your business before you begin down the road of a new website.
Figure out where you are
Before you take any major step in your business, you first need to figure out where you stand. Are you just starting out? Have you been around a while and want to expand? Are you an established name in the community or do you need to build that presence?
The answers to these questions are going to guide you in respect to what you should do with a new website. If you’re just starting out, you’re probably going to want to just get a basic website out with the basic info so people can find you. Likewise, if you’ve been around for a while and want to build a presence, maybe you’re going to want to have a bigger website, possibly with a blog to show off your expertise or even an e-commerce section (more on this later).
So before you do anything with a new site, sit down, either by yourself or with your business partners, and find out where your business currently is. Ask yourself pointed and searching questions. And be honest about where the business is. What you find out in this process will set you up for an easier website build process and a more successful website.
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Determine what you want to do in the next 2-4 years
Creating a new website for you business isn’t like purchasing a pair of shoes or debating getting that new shirt. Instead, it’s more like purchasing a new car. If you’re going to get an actual return on the investment, you’re going to need to be able to use it for at least two years.
Now, you can add pieces and take parts away from the site, similar to what you might do with the car, but the overall feel and makeup to the site is going to be the same. Otherwise, if you need a drastic change so soon after the first site is built, you’ve wasted money.
So, in order to make sure the site is able to last long enough so you can get a good return on your investment, you need to look at the future. Where do you see your business in two to four years? Will you grow into starting e-commerce in addition your physical store? Will you become an expert in the field and want to show it off in a blog?
You need to think about the future so that your site can serve you in the present and future. You don’t necessarily need all of the components showing, like a blog or an e-commerce store, when the site is first completed, but you do need to make sure there is a plan to add it to the site without needing a completely new one if that’s the direction your heading. The more you plan now for the future, the better off you’ll be when the future becomes the present.
To e-commerce or not to e-commerce
When it comes to small businesses, no matter how big or how small, this is the biggest question. Should you offer an online store for people to buy from as well or just stick to the brick-and-mortar store that you currently have.
On the one hand, you can reach a much wider audience by having an online store. You’re not confined to just the community you’re located it. Instead, people from your region, state, country or even the entire world can purchase your products.
And much more purchasing is being conducted online today too. According to Trellis at the start of 2018, 51 percent of Americans with internet access prefer to shop online and 80 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in the last 30 days. It’s definitely hard to not consider that side of the business.
But at the same time, building an e-commerce store for your business is time consuming. It takes time to properly build, calculate all of the sales taxes, work out a process for shipping, maintaining inventory and making sure the site doesn’t crash when you have a rush of people trying to buy.
And that can take you away from your actual small business and possibly away from the thing you love. I can’t tell you what the right answer for you is on this. You just need to sit down and really figure out what’s right for you.
Of course, there are many, many more questions you should be asking yourself before you start on a new website for your small business. And perhaps I’ll touch on a few more in the near future as well.
But I hope this list gets you thinking and into that mindset. A new, proper website for your business is not some secondary thought. You need to think it through and do some planning on your own before you even begin to look for a developer.
The more you ask, the more you search and the more you find in this planning stage, the better and smoother the new website process will be.