If you’re the owner of a very small business – we love an abbreviation here so let’s call it a VSB – and you don’t have a website, you’re potentially missing out on vital future growth.
More worrying still is that you’re far from alone as 60% of VSBs in the UK are without a website.
So just how important is a website to a small business?
Digital “haves” and “have nots”
A VSB can be defined as a business with five employees or less and new research from GoDaddy, the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses, has revealed that three-out-of-five (60%) of VSBs – which make up almost a fifth of the Britain’s small businesses – are currently trading without any online presence.
The research also found those independent business owners who are online are markedly more confident about the future of their business than those who aren’t.
A situation that GoDaddy suggests shows a growing chasm between Britain’s digital “haves” and “have nots”.
No website, no growth?
More than half (54%) of those VSBs without a website fear their business will show no growth in the next three-to-five years – assuming they’re around that long – while almost two-thirds (60%) of VSBs with a website reckon their business could grow by as much as 50% over the same period.
And it’s not just a matter of conjecture and confidence either as the research also revealed the impact of an online presence meant over half (56%) of businesses reported increased growth in the two years after they launched their website.
The research polled over 500 of the UK’s VSBs and found the most common reasons for a lack of online presence are:
- The business is simply too small to warrant a website (35%)
- A lack of time is preventing them creating a website (19%)
- A website is too expensive to set up and maintain (19%)
The good news is that, in spite of these concerns, a major wave of VSBs are expecting to take advantage of a robust digital identity soon, with one-third (33%) planning to create a website within the next two years.
And while growth is a motivating factor for building a website, these firms are under no illusion that their business could be in trouble if they don’t – three-quarters (75%) of small businesses with a website said they think they have a competitive advantage over businesses without.
It’s important not to rush into it though, as getting the domain and the search engine optimisation (SEO) is critical, a fact two-thirds (66%) appreciate as they are yet to take the crucial first step of picking out a domain name.
Stefano Maruzzi, VP EMEA, GoDaddy, said: “There are over 5 million small businesses in the UK, with a further 500,000 new businesses set to be added this year alone”
Hew added: “While we take it for granted in this digital age that everyone is online, the reality is many of the smallest businesses are still to make the leap. Large and medium-sized companies learned a long time ago that the most effective way to reach customers globally was through the Internet. It seems that many of their smaller peers are about to do the same, which will change how they grow, how they communicate and perhaps even what they sell. That could have a big impact on small business growth and transformation in the UK, as well as economic growth as a whole.”
And I know from experience just how important an online presence is – although the use of social media by VSBs, or any businesses for that matter, was still a new thing when I started up my own breakfast bar, by advertising special offers and engaging with customers via Facebook and Twitter, I was able to build up a pretty strong local following.