You set yourself up for failure the moment you decided to build a website. The problem with this mindset is that it limits your focus to only one component of a successful online presence.
Most business owners start working on a website before they have a clear understanding of how to use it. They simply publish a few pages because “everyone knows websites are important”, and then they are aggravated when it doesn’t bring in leads.
The goal of this article is to help business owners find the right perspective for using the web to grow their business.
Reason #1: You have the wrong goal
What Does A Website Do For You?
A website is nothing more than a few files that anyone on the internet can access.
The internet is a massive collection of unorganized information, the majority of which is useless and ignored. The amount of new information created each minute is staggering, and everyone is yelling for attention.
Many business owners think of the internet as an ocean full of fish, and their website as a fishing lure. That’s simply not the case. The internet is more like a massive junkyard. If you don’t maintain your online presence, your information gets buried and ignored.
In a Nutshell:
- Publishing a website will not find customers for you. You find customers by consistently researching your market and competition.
- Publishing a website will not help customers find you. You help them find you by investing in search engine optimization and a social media strategy.
Putting up a website is short-term goal. You will achieve it quickly and then wonder why it didn’t help. What you need is a long-term strategy for building an online business. This shift in thinking may seem intimidating, but anything less than this goal is a waste of your time and resources.
As soon as you focus on building an online business, you’re goal has shifted from a cheap and easy task (throwing up a website), to long-term business strategy (building an online sales funnel). With the right help, your website can grow into a sales engine that teaches you how your customers think, and turns your brand into gold.
If you are a school with full enrollment or a restaurant that’s always booked, you may be tempted to think you don’t need to invest in the web. However, an online business isn’t limited to just marketing or sales. An online business can reduce operational costs by streamlining customer engagement, add new entirely revenue streams, help you learn how your customers think, and grow your brand authority enough to reach bigger business opportunities and partnerships. If you don’t invest in online growth, then you are just waiting for your competition to make you obsolete.
Reason #2: You aren’t planning to fail, but you should
When most new business owners put up a website, they are thinking in static terms. They pour a little money into the website and then sit back to see what does (or doesn’t) happen. Fast forward a year or two and they almost always end up with the same type of mediocre online presence as their competition. If you ask them why they don’t invest more into building up their online business, they simply say that it doesn’t work for them.
It’s easy to start thinking this way because when something’s wrong with your online business, nothing happens. No sales, no clicks, no visitors, no information. The easy response is to stop trying or assume that something will eventually “catch on” if you stay on the same path.
With this in mind, pick any successful high-growth company you know of and research how they manage their online presence. You’ll find very intentional and carefully planned ads, consistent social media, beautiful images, clear language, and a polished website. None of that happens by accident, it is all the result of careful experimentation, research, and learning.
When driving your car, your hands are constantly making quick adjustments in pressure to keep your vehicle moving forward, and your eyes are constantly searching for signals to change direction. That’s how a successful online business is managed: Measure, improve, and repeat. The faster you learn, the faster you grow.
It takes patience and consistent effort to find out what works. The best first step you can take is to set aside both money and time each week towards analyzing and improving your online business. I suggest training in Agile Project Management and using a tool like Trello to keep track of ideas and questions. When something doesn’t work, either get help or invest in another digital marketing strategy.
Reason #3: You will pay the high cost of a cheap website
If all you want to do it publish a few good looking webpages and a contact form, you will find the cheapest way to do it. You can even make a website yourself using one of the countless services like Squarespace, Weebly, & Wix.
The problem is that these options give inexperienced entrepreneurs an easy way to avoid the real work of building an online business.
Think of your website as your most important employee or retail storefront. Cutting corners in these areas is a mistake all of your customers will notice, and it will end up costing you more in the long run. An online business is one of the lowest cost investments your business will make, but it can have a bigger impact on your business than all of your real estate and salesmen combined.
If a small business invest $3k on a professionally managed Adwords campaign, the worst outcome would be that they lose $3k and have to try something else. However, they might discover that they can turn $500 a month into an extra $10,000 of revenue every month for the life of the business. Is this really a corner worth cutting?
Every week I get emails with statements like this:
“Two years, two web companies and $10,000 later and we don’t even have email coming to our correct email address. We are desperate for help.”
$10k is plenty to get an online business off to a strong start, we help you break up this upfront cost into low monthly payments at Good Agency. The trick is that you have to invest early, find developers you can trust, and spend the majority of your budget on digital marketing.
Most companies make the mistake of only getting a few quotes because all they are looking for is a simple website. It costs only a few hours to get multiple quotes from top firms, and most web designers are happy to explain the return on investment of their quotes.
Would you rather have a free website that makes $1k a month, or pay $20k for an online business that brings in $15k a month?
Reason #4: You Will Miss Out On Expertise
It takes time to develop the right instincts for managing on online business, and there is no substitute for real expertise.
Do you know what a good website looks like?
There is a science behind landing page design, and experts spend years studying this topic. There’s even a science behind the coloring of buttons. You can read critiques of top web apps on useronboard.com.
How would you research your competition?
It’s much easier than you might think, and there is a lot you can learn from competitors. Enter the URL of a competitor on spyfu.com and it will show you how they attract customers to their website. This is only one of many similar tools!
How do you target the right customers?
Did you know that you can target advertisements to people based on specific interests, beliefs, and even personality? It’s somewhat disturbing how much information is collected on consumers. In fact, Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did.
There are so many aspects to online business that take years to master. Expertise in these topics has real power, but it can be difficult to identify where to focus your effort first.
Our slogan at Good Agency is “Development With Integrity” because your first step in online success needs to be finding someone you can trust. However, don’t trust us (or anyone else) before doing your research and knowing what you are paying for.
A good technology firm will:
- Be honest and transparent.
- Pay smart people a fair salary to spend a lot of time on your project.
- Help you understand how your business goals will be accomplished.
A bad technology firm will:
- Set absurd expectations with statements that are “too good to be true”.
- Offer low quotes that are full of hidden costs and surprises.
- Either offer a lot of services you don’t need, or deliver the minimum of what you ask for whether it helps your business or not.
Reason #5: You will waste your time
How much is an hour of your time worth? If you are an entrepreneur, simple math suggests that you could value your time as high as $1,000/hr. I’ve mentioned that building a successful online business takes a lot of work and learning, but that doesn’t mean that you need to manage and learn everything on your own.
Option A: Prioritize Money Over Time
You decide to launch a website for your business, but you want to keep your up-front costs low. With this in mind, you spend 30 hours using a drag-and-drop website builder like Wix. After publishing the website you spend 20 hours a week trying to promote it with ads and socials media posts. However, after a few months you still don’t have any sales, so you start spending an additional 20 hours a week learning and investigating the issues with your approach. 400-600 working hours and 3-4 months later you slowly start to see some online sales trickling in.
Best-case scenario: Your online business is profitable about a year after you started working on it.
Worst-case scenario: Your business fails after 12 months of operating in the red. You invested little cash upfront, but it cost you a year of losses and missed opportunities.
Option B: Prioritize Time Over Money
You decide to build an online business, so you set aside $20k for your initial investment and about $3k as a monthly budget. Your first step is to leverage your professional network and do some research to find partners with expertise you can trust. Within 4 months, you are generating consistent profit with a beautiful website and a well-planned digital marketing campaign.
Best-case scenario: After a year you’ve created sales engine that feeds your bank account even while you are away on vacation.
Worst-case scenario: After 4 months, you simply aren’t hitting your goals, and it’s clear from the data that your business model won’t work. You lose $32k and move on to another business opportunity armed with more experience.
The Bottom Line
Find experts in design, development, and marketing, then work with them to hit specific business goals. This isn’t is easiest path, but that’s why so few businesses get it right.
If you are ready to work with partners that understand online business, please contact us.