Attention small business owners. The internet is here to stay.
Of course, today, no one doubts this fact (but many used to, ahem, McDonalds).
More than 80 percent of UK internet users regularly make purchases and book services online. Moreover, where they make local purchases is nearly always informed by a Google search.
Big companies are well aware of this fact. They work hard every day to exploit it by improving their customers’ online experience. Even small tweaks in one area, such as a one-second increase in website speed, can mean big profit bumps.
Small business owners, however, are often reluctant to get their businesses online. This poses a big problem. Small and micro businesses represent a huge portion of the economy; 99 percent of all businesses fall into these categories. And in Europe, most of these enterprises are, at present, completely without the benefits the web offers.
So why aren’t small businesses, by and large, online? We’ve assembled the top reasons why not below:
“Fool me once!”
We often ask local business owners this very question. By far, one of the most common reasons given is this: they’ve already tried to go online and it failed.
Many of these small business owners got on board during the early 2000s, when internet usage had its first big spike (between 2000 and 2010, internet users worldwide more than tripled).
But in these early days of the web, getting a website was a tedious and expensive task. Still, being online seemed to hold great promise, and many business owners ended up owning an expensive website, but without a clear benefit. Moreover, as the internet matured and improved, an early-days website quickly became obsolete.
“It’s just too expensive for my small business”
Five years ago, event the simplest business website cost thousands of pounds.
This overhead investment, combined with little or slow success, has scarred a lot of small business owners. They are (understandably) wary of going online.
But many web-builders today are way more affordable than in the past, and most no longer demand high maintenance costs.
Much of this has to do with the DIY model: providers such as Wix and SquareSpace allow you to build your own website on their platform. But while building something yourself is almost always cheaper, you have to know how to do it.
Though literally millions of profiles have built on Wix, for example, only 2 percent of them actually subscribe – and that’s the highest number ever.
The takeaway here is that literally millions of people are going to DIY web-builders such as Wix, starting to build a website, and then, for some reason, giving up.
“Maybe I’ll do it later…”
Small business owners tend to be an army of one.
They have to carefully divvy up their time between providing services and managerial duties. Maintaining a website is, in most cases, a lot of additional work.
Many small businesses also tell us that they are doing fine right now without being online, so they just don’t see the point of creating a web presence.
“I’m not a tech-y person”
Building and maintaining a website required a lot of profound technical know-how, which, just a couple years ago, only trained developers possessed.
But the reality today is completely different. It just can’t get any simpler than some of the products offered now.
Pre-built or ‘click-&-go’ websites are now among the cheapest options. Meaning it’s low-cost to have someone build yours for you — a very recent development.
Plus, you have the added benefit of its design and function being overseen by professionals, and regulalry improved by them, too.
Never say never
Although it’s easy now to understand why some local businesses refrain from pursuing an online strategies, the time to give the web a second go has never been better.
Websites have become extremely affordable and easy to manage. Even people with no web experience at all can easily run their own website today. Smartphones and faster Internet connections have made consumers to online researchers wherever they go.
It’s not only Millennials. All age groups adapted to the vast and overreaching technological shifts in recent years. We don’t rely on information from friends or family anymore — we just go online and look for a barber or electrician nearby on our own.
Local businesses that don’t show up on the digital map (or, more precisely, the Google Map) are likely to face major difficulties in the near future, as all these trends only point to one direction: online.