How to get started when you want to create your business website
Starting a new business and creating your online presence is certainly a big step. Quite understandably, small business owners feel very excited but often don’t know where to start, or have many ideas and want to do everything at the same time.
In this and the following few articles we would like to give you some useful tips so that you can save yourself money and frustration, and get a website that really serves your business needs.
Before you do anything, the most important question to consider is: What's the role of your website for your business in the short term?
You do need to answer this question, which is not easy.
When we ask our prospective clients, their answer is usually something like this: "I'd like to be found on the internet / I'd just like to have a nice website / I'd like to show my business and maybe get people to pay online."
These are not wrong answers, but they are not precise enough.
Ask yourself: What will be the essential role of my website?
In fact, there are only two possible answers you can choose from:
- Option 1: The website will show your brand and marketing message, just as a "shop-front" or
- Option 2: You want to use your website as a tool, as an "online software", e.g. e-commerce website.
Let's see an example for both cases.
Option 1: Let’s suppose you are starting an accounting business. You decided that your website will only need to be a "shop front" initially, its role is for marketing purposes only.
You may find the following functions on other accountancy businesses' websites: newsletter service, client login, downloadable materials, members' area, search function, case studies, instant quote calculator, documents to purchase, etc.
Fair enough - a website like that does give a professional impression.
But remember, you're just about to start your business. You decided to have a website for marketing purposes only, hence you don't need all these features - for now - just because you saw them on a - presumably profitable - competitor website.
Option 2: In this example, the website has an essential role in the business processes, so it will be an online software. Let's say you start an e-commerce website where you decide to sell handmade candles.
If do some research and have a look at other similar businesses' websites, besides the usual e-commerce features you might see menu items like Membership, Wholesalers' login, Event calendar of exhibitions, etc.
Again, remember: Don't want everything in one go. Start with a nice, professional, but simple webshop with the necessary features to begin with.
You don't need a newsletter system because you probably won't have the time or the idea to write marketing emails every week or month - and, you won't have any newsletter subscribers for weeks or months.
You don't need to manage bulk purchases either. That's why you don't need Wholesalers' login.
If you're going to one or two exhibitions to promote your product, it's more than enough to advertise it on social media. You don't need an event management system on your website.
Let's repeat the most important question: What role do you want the website to play in the short term?
It should be able to serve the initial needs of your business. For the medium and long term, the role of the website will be determined by two things: Your vision and the future changes in your business.
Why are entrepreneurs afraid of starting with just a basic website?
Certainly, building a website is a big step. Many of our clients have told us during initial conversations that "once I've decided to make a website, let's make it really good and put everything into it".
Is this the right approach? It might even seem like it. However, there is a big flaw in this idea: it assumes that once the website is done, it is done once and for all. And this is a huge mistake.
A good website serves the business and is therefore a mirror of it, 'living and growing' with it. It should follow its changes, both in terms of content and technology. Contrary to common belief, there’s no such thing as a final website.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that it can have an unfinished impact on the website visitor. It has to be nice and professional, no question. But since we don't even know exactly where our business is going in the next 6-8 months - let alone later, how could we know now what features will be needed? One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with having a basic website that serves you well initially and add functions later on, but only the ones you need. In order to do that, you need a website that is flexible to grow with your needs - more on that later (see blog post on how to choose the right technology and platform)
- Know the role of your website.
- Never want elements and functions on your website just because you've seen them elsewhere
- Aim for the bare minimum at the start, and always make sure that the website can change if and when necessary. Even a website that is initially just for marketing purposes can later become a useful online tool, but only if you make good decisions at the beginning and choose the right platform. We’ll be exploring this topic in the following article.