Does your business really need a website?
A quick Google search on “how to start a business” will return many checklists, and almost all of them will include an item about building a website.
And why wouldn’t they? We live in a world where the Internet dominates our every waking moment. So to think an entrepreneur would not create a website when setting up a business would suggest a new company destined to become another start-up failure statistic.
But is that right? Does every business really need a website?
“No, I haven't bothered"
A good friend of mine set up a juice bar business a few years ago and when I asked him a year or so into it whether he had set up a website yet he said “No, I haven't bothered.”
I must confess I almost laughed. This business was never going to work I thought. How on earth in the Internet age can you have a successful business if you do not create a new website for your company at the outset. Being a Management Consultant at the time I obviously knew best and so we finished our discussion and I went off on my merry (and as it turns out ignorant) way believing the next time we met he would tying up the loose ends of closing the company and moving onto something else.
Except the next time we met the answer was still the same but by this time he had added another 3 stores to his growing chain and business was booming. And he still didn’t have a website.
So what was going on? How was he managing this?
Product Product Product. Focus Focus Focus
In short, my friend had come to the conclusion that for his business to work the most important thing was that he had a great product. Every time someone had one of his juices he wanted to make sure they felt they had an amazing and healthy drink in their hand. Then the next time they wanted something healthy and refreshing to drink they would remember his juice bar.
And as the venue he had chosen for his juice bars was shopping centres – based on his massive amounts of market research – he concluded a website was not important to get customers to them. Would you look up where to buy a smoothie on Google and then make a trip to the shopping centre where it is sold?
People typically don’t. Instead shoppers usually spend an hour or so wandering around shopping, get thirsty and then look for something refreshing to drink to keep them going.
And if that drink is healthy at the same time, all the better.
So by focusing his spend on making his product as great as it possibly could be, and getting access to the best shopping centre locations he could, he succeeded. And guess what? The business is now over 30 stores strong and counting.
The purpose of this post is not to say that entrepreneurs should not build a website in the early stages. If your new business is to sell clothing online for example your business model demands it and it would be silly to suggest otherwise.
All it is aimed at is to make you think. What is going to be the most important thing to your start-up and new business venture? What is your market research and business plan telling you are the most critical things to focus on?
Then all you have to do is have the courage to follow your convictions. And maybe ignore some of your friends (management consulting ones especially!) who have not set up a new business themselves and assume they know better.
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