Here’s the BIG question I’m going to address here:
Does your business need a website?
It’s a big question and most people would answer with an unequivocal “yes,” but the answer to the question of whether or not you need a website depends on how you define the word “business.”
Let’s get basic and review some definitions.
What IS a business?
A business is when two people, a business owner and a customer/client exchange money for products or services. So, if you have people giving you moolah in exchange for a product or a service, on a regular basis, you’ve got a business.
If this describes you, then YES, in the 21st century, your business needs a website, especially if you work online, with people all over the world.
Now, I’m going to try to break this to you gently. If nobody has ever given you money for your products or services, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby, or a really fabulous idea that someday might become a business.
It might be fun. You might love it, and that’s awesome. But, if nobody has ever given you money for it, it’s not a business…yet.
Now, to get back to our original question. Do you need a website?
Your business idea/hobby does NOT need a website.
It needs customers or clients.
This brings us to a conundrum that I’ve discussed at length with several clients. I’ve had clients argue that they can’t start their business until they have a website. My response, every time, is to tell them to get a customer or client first.
They don’t always listen to my explanations, but hey, I try.
Your website is your online business card. It is a marketing tool that announces to the world who you are and what you do. But, your website, in and of itself, will not build your business anymore than a box of business cards sitting on your desk will build your business.
You might take your stack of business cards and get out there and talk to people. Go to events and pass those suckers out. But doing those things is not a guarantee of business success.
Building a website is the same thing. You can build a site. Tell people about your new site. Link to it on Facebook. You can SEO the crap out of it, but it’ll still be on page 234 of Google’s results because it’s brand new and has four pages of content.
You can focus on making it beautiful and amazing, but again, building a site, won’t build your business. The only thing that will build your business is actually getting an increasing number of clients or customers.
Yes, building a site will give you confidence. Yes, it will make you feel legit. And, yes, it will give you something to hide behind, and trust me, I get this. I did it with my first failed online venture, for several years. I could feel like I was working because I was spending tons of time on my website, tweaking things, and avoiding getting customers because that pretty much scared the crap out of me.
But getting customers/clients is the KEY to building a business. It’s the only thing that matters, especially at the beginning. Your logo, your brand, your domain name, your website? They’re secondary to your first clients.
Start Your Business
Don’t worry about getting it all perfect from the get go. You won’t, and it’s going to change anyway as you get to know your clients and also yourself and how you like to work, so just get your wonderful amazingness out into the world.
I know how terrifying that can be, and I swear if you’re thinking of going into entrepreneurship either put your business bestie on speed dial or hire a therapist or business coach right from the get-go because putting yourself out there will bring up all your crap, like every fear, ever. Some days, it felt (feels) kind of like going back to middle school – a special kind of hellish self-doubt that we thought we left behind us years ago. We didn’t (well, I apparently hadn’t even though I thought I had).
How do you build a business? How do you start?
You find A client or customer. Not 100. You need ONE.
Then, you do a kick-ass job serving that client or customer. And they pay you. That’s your start. You’ve officially exchanged money for your product or service. Then, you find another client, who also pays you, and it goes from there.
If you can’t find a client or customer for your amazing business idea, then you might need to pivot a bit. Come up with some sort of offering that people will pay you for.
Once you’ve got that offering drilled down. You’ve got people giving you money, then, build your website!
At that point, you’ll know what you do. It’ll be much easier to write your copy because you know your offerings. You’re familiar with your client’s pain points and how your products and services help them. The whole website process will be a gazillion times easier. Truly, it will be.
Now, do you need a website?
Yes! Now, you’re ready. Your business can support the investment, whether that’s for a full on custom design package or a website coaching package.
And when you do have a business (see the above definition if you’re not sure), then the answer to the question, “Do you need a business website?” is an unequivocal YES.
You might have friends in business, who don’t think they need a website. They might say something like, “My business does great without a website. I just use Facebook (or whatever other social media platform is working for them). Why do I want the headache of a website?”
Um…remember Periscope? What if that was where you built your whole business?
You want a website because it’s how people find you. People no longer look in the yellow pages. They Google that shiz (or GTS, for short). But, they don’t search Facebook or Instagram.
And, Facebook can change their algorithms or even delete entire accounts if they choose to. If you’ve built your entire online business on a social media platform, you’ll be hosed if they change it or if it goes away.
You’re in charge of your website. You own the content, and it can definitely help to grow your business. It will lend you credibility. It allows you to blog and develop content so people can find you. But again, your website doesn’t market itself. You’ve still got to do the work and find the clients.
It’s important to remember that your website is NOT your business. If you’ve got a terrible business idea, a gorgeous custom site won’t “make” your business happen. Building your business must come first, whether you’re offering services or selling products.
I’m a web designer and website coach. I LOVE design, tech, and fitting all the moving pieces of an online business together. In terms of my own business, it makes the most sense for me to say that every business person, everywhere needs a website, right?
But that’s just not true.
Rather than focusing on your website or letting your lack of a website stop you, get yourself out there.
Start your business. Find clients. Validate your ideas and your offerings. If you’re not sure how to approach all of this or even if you might be ready for a site, but you’re not sure, I’d be happy to hash it out with you.
If you think you might be ready for a site but have absolutely no idea how to tackle that project, download the Website Creation Starter Kit. It breaks the entire process down step by step, so you can build a website that works for rather than the other way around.