Why do so many SMEs not have an online presence?

More than one in five small businesses say that a website is not in the company’s short-term future. Why?

Despite the internet seeming such an obvious place to build brand awareness, according to a survey of small businesses conducted by Clutch, more than one in five respondents say that a website is not in the company’s short-term future while 17 per  cent are planning on launching a website in the near future. Among those who did not have a website their reasons amounted to ‘irrelevance’ and ‘overall costs associated’. It seems flabbergasting that companies aren’t putting themselves out there when sites like Midphase offer tons of support for small business hosting for as little as $5.48/month.

So let’s look at ‘irrelevance’ as nearly a third of respondents said this was why they didn’t have a website. Perhaps this is because these business owners are selling a product they do not believe lends itself to a website. However, how many times have you heard of a company, searched for it on Google and struggled to find a website that looked trustworthy so gone elsewhere? Max Elman, the founder of Razorfrog Web Design says, ‘No matter what type of business you run, if you have customers, it’s necessary to have some sort of information online, at least a page describing who you are and offering contact information. It’s essential to have this information indexed and shown to those looking for you.’

Considering more than 80 per cent of Americans do their research before making a purchase or using a company, Elman has a point.

Almost as bad as not having a website at all is having a bad website. This covers everything from a website that doesn’t provide correct information to not being compatible on a mobile phone. According to Smart Insights, in the US 80 per cent of internet users search from their smartphone and 91 per cent are still searching via a PC or laptop. So with website builders out there and low-costing servers it’s difficult to understand why many SMEs aren’t investing some of their business plan into an excellent, functional website because it puts them so far ahead of the game.

The other reason was ‘overall costs associated’ so let’s look at that next. If you’re a complete technophobe and looking to hire a designer, developer, web agency – the whole works – then things are going to get expensive. There’s nothing wrong with going down that route but it’s really not as scary as you might think and if you’ve managed to build your own company, you ought to be able to build your own website. All things considered, according to WP Site Care, a typical DIY WordPress website cost is going to be around $500 to $600 per year and you’re given a detailed breakdown of where this cost is going from domain name to website hosts. So it’s not bad really and you’ll probably spend a lot more on advertising which is pointless if you don’t have a decent website for customers to go to anyway.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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