Image by Angela Radulescu via Flickr
I am constantly running into small business owners who are very concerned about the Web. They typically fall into two groups: those that have a Web site and those that don't. But they are both concerned because they just aren't getting any business from the Web. The ones that have no Web site know why, but they don't know what to do. The ones who have Web sites don't know why, but still don't know what to do. Both groups need to understand the most important part of any small business Web site, but almost none of them do.
It's not that they lack for questions. They ask me LOTS of questions, about how to pick a domain name, and how to find the right Web host, and who to trust for search marketing, and what makes a good site design, and on and on. But the most important part of any small business Web site is its update process.
The difficulty, cost, and skills required to update your Web site are more important than anything else. Because every blessed small business owner starts off with a crappy Web site. They always stink on ice, at first. I mean, it's your first try. Remember everything else you did in your business as a first try? This one won't be any better.
So, it's critically important that your first try does not sit there, frozen in time, waiting for you to figure out how to update it. Or how to pay for the guy who charges you to update it. Because every day it sits like that is costing you money.
So, if you only have enough money to build the Web site and not enough to pay someone to constantly change it for you, then make sure they build something YOU can personally update. And commit to yourself that you will update it, that you will check to see how many people are coming, and how much they are buying. That way you'll know what worked and what didn't every time you change it.
Some Web site software is about as complicated as sending an e-mail or writing a Word document, but if you are overwhelmed at even the thought of updating your own Web site, then save up enough money so that you can pay someone to regularly update your site, not just build it in the first place. You'll still need to pay attention to how many people are coming and buying to decide what to change, but you can have someone else do the work.
So whether you have a Web site already that you can't get updated or you have no Web site at all, you are in the same boat. You need to get a Web site that you can regularly modify so that you can make it stink a little less every day, until suddenly you look up and say to yourself, "Gee, this is really starting to work."
As long as you can keep improving your site, you can improve your business. But with no site, or with a site that looks the same today as it did last year, the Web won't be getting you any business at all.