Does your local business need to be online?

Last week, during Small Business Week I had the privilege of attending an event hosted by the Business Development Bank of Canada -“StartDoes your business need to be online Small and Win Big on the Web”.

For national brands, virtual services and online retailers, the need for a website would seem to be a given; but what about existing bricks and mortar or “main-street” businesses that rely on customers to visit their space in person to make a purchase?

Building a case for getting online

The astonishing thing I learned while listening to the speakers Ravi Dindayal from BDC Consulting and Scott Levitan from Google, is that only 40 per cent of small businesses in Canada have a website. This contrasts with 84 percent of consumers being online. The research shows that 50 percent of consumers will conduct an online search prior to making a purchase.

When looking for vendors for a Business-to-Business transaction, 38% of prospects attend tradeshows, 59% consult family and friends, and 93% use the internet.

These stats in themselves should be a pretty compelling reason to get your business online.

Building blocks vs. an all or nothing approach

My key learning from the event was that a website can be launched successfully by taking a phased approach to development. Trying to make every single feature of your website work all at once might cause the entrepreneur to feel too overwhelmed, or cause a risk of spending money to launch features or information that don’t properly meet the needs of the consumer.

Building the website on a strong foundation, by using platforms and tools that are expandable and adaptable, will allow the site to use a development cycle where content and features are launched, then evaluated, then improved and expanded upon.

Congratulations to our friends at BDC for putting on such a helpful event. Valuable information on BDC’s insights regarding online shopping, including the statistics identified above, can be found in their report “Mapping your future growth: Five game-changing consumer trends”.

What do you think? Is there a compelling reason to encourage small, local business to establish their web presence, or should they stick to what they do best with their in person sales efforts? Tell us what you think! At the end of November we’ll submit all entries into a draw for a chance to win a voucher for one of our upcoming seminars (value $25).

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