Every Business Startup Needs a Website

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Does your business need a website? The short answer is YES!!! At this point, every business should have a website. For some, a single page with just the basics is enough. For others, a full virtual storefront with ecommerce capabilities should be seriously considered, even if this isn't in your current plan.

The internet provides marketing opportunities unlike any previous technological advances, and currently there are many ways to promote your website online for little or no cost. Regardless of the business model or type of company you plan to start, posting a website for your startup is a virtual requirement.

Business websites can vary from one-page layouts that offer an overview of the products offered, hours of operation, and directions to the store to complex, multi-page sites that include ecommerce capabilities and interactive chat boards for the customers to exchange information.

With the tools now available through webhosting companies, you don't have to be particularly computer savvy to set up and maintain the site, and learning how to maneuver the various features that are available is less complicated than most new business owners believe.

Purely web-based businesses have become common, with home-based startups offering everything from basic information to consulting services and single products to department store type shopping sites from the comfort of a laptop.

Obviously, these types of businesses need to allocate significant resources (both money and time) to developing and promoting the website -- such as a retail shop would devote to a brick-and-mortar storefront. 

The internet is quickly becoming the first stop for anyone looking for any product or service, including local places like restaurants and entertainment venues. For businesses that serve a limited area, an ad in the Yellow Pages used to be the ideal foundation for marketing. Now, most metropolitan areas are served by multiple telephone companies, thus several versions of phone books are available, none of which are as accessible as your favorite search engine.

Whatever you business, there are dozens of online review sites and local directories to drive traffic to your site, often for free or minimal expense. For restaurants or boutique stores, your website provides an enticing glance at what you offer to people who might otherwise never step through your door.

For businesses selling retail or wholesale products, your website serves as an additional salesperson or storefront -- one that is available worldwide, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Some long-standing boutique retailers are finding their sales increasing by 20% to 50% through the addition of ecommerce and a bit of web marketing. Don't discount the power of selling your products over the internet.

More and more Americans are searching the web instead of heading to the mall to find what they are looking for. Though you will probably have to provide shipping for your online customers, the cost of setting up a shipping area can provide significant returns to your bottom line.

Once your website is launched, you will need to do a little work to help your target market find you. Posting a website without marketing it is like printing your marketing materials on the back wall of your closet -- if nobody sees it, it doesn't exist!  There are steps you can take, collectively called search engine optimization (SEO), that will help your website be searchable over time.

That is, consumers will type key words related to your business into a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo and your business will eventually show up higher and higher on the results lists. Unless your business's key words are so original as to be alone on the world wide web, this won't happen without putting in the time (a few hours per week) to use the SEO methods, which, by the way, are mostly free.

Whatever your business idea, include a web presence in your marketing plan. Learn all you can about the best ways to use the internet to promote your type of business. Take advantage of the opportunities the world wide web provides by offering your customers another avenue to find you and learn about what you do. Every business can benefit from posting and marketing a website, so, yes, your business really does need a website.

About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and authors a small business startup blog. The LaunchX System is designed to help entrepreneurs start a business the right way. Visit LaunchX.com for a free workbook to help you choose a business idea.

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