Do I need a website for my small business?

If you’re a small business owner, do you need a website? Well, maybe. Here’s what you need to know about websites and small businesses.

Stack of post-it cards with the text “Do I need a website for my small business?” and The Motley Fool jester cap logo

A website for a small business can be anything from a single page to a whole e-commerce store. Do you actually need a website, though, or could you build your online presence another way? Let’s take a look.

Should I have a website for my small business?

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. So, to help you decide whether it’s worth investing in a website, here are some pros and cons.

The pros

  • A website could make your online business appear more professional and credible.
  • Having a site helps potential customers find you online through search engines.
  • You can use a website to highlight positive customer reviews and testimonials.
  • You have control over how you list your goods and services.
  • If you only want a very simple website, you can sometimes get one for free.

The cons

  • Although you can build a really basic website for free, there could be startup costs involved.
  • You need to set aside time to keep the website updated.
  • There’s always the chance that customers will post bad reviews that are visible on the site.
  • If the website doesn’t work properly, it could make your business seem unprofessional.
  • Unless it’s a free package, you’ll need to pay a monthly or annual hosting subscription.

Essentially, it comes down to what works best for your particular business. Since you don’t need a website to start a small business, you could always just focus on getting the business off the ground and come back to the question of a website later.

How do I start a website for my business?

If you’re new to building websites, here are some steps to work through.

  • First, set a budget and stick to it. Think about your cash flow and be realistic about what you can spend.
  • Next, decide how you’ll build your site. If you don’t have much experience, a website builder like Wix or Squarespace makes the process really simple. You simply register an account, pick a domain name (the URL people click to visit your website) and choose a hosting plan to get started.
  • Add however many pages you need and write the content for them.
  • If you’re selling things through the site, add a payment system like PayPal. The website builder can help you do this.
  • Before you go live, test your website to make sure it’s working properly and everything’s accurate.

Do you already use social media? Don’t forget to advertise your website so people know to check it out.

What if I don’t want a website for my small business?

If you don’t want a website for your small business, or you can’t afford one just yet, don’t worry. There are ways you can build your online presence without a website. Here are some tips.

  • Get on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or another platform. Social media lets you reach a wide audience base and connect directly to potential customers for free, so it can help you grow your web presence on a budget.
  • Tell friends and family about your business. They can help spread the word locally and tell their own contacts how to reach you online.
  • If you’re running a side hustle like selling arts and crafts online, sign up to a major platform like Etsy or Redbubble. Even without a website, it’s easier for customers to find you if you’re selling on the most popular platforms.

So, if you’re on a budget or a website doesn’t work for your business, you can still build your presence online. It just takes a little creativity and forward planning.

Takeaway

Does every small business need a website? No. But even a simple website could help you promote your services to more people and build your brand.

If you decide to set up a website, though, don’t rush. Instead, spend time researching popular website builders and compare the packages on offer to find the best option for your needs.

And finally, if you do set up a website for your business, check with HMRC to see whether the costs involved are tax-deductible.