Why Only 44% of Small Businesses Have a Website?

The low percentage could be ascribed to the following:*Small business that has survived on word-of-mouth does not bother with developing a web presence;
*Small business owners could be ignorant of the value;
*Small business owners could lack the computer skills to develop an in-house basic web presence;
*Small business sometimes views the costs as too high to render professional web services;
*The dynamics of the web is developing at a rapid speed making learning the web overwhelming;
*Many business owners lack the time to manage their web presence proactively.When small business owners try to tackle a website they often find themselves overwhelmed with the complexity. It seems easy at first – put together some images and some copy, right? But then reality sets in. Knowing which messages are important and how to word them requires a clear understanding of strategy and brand. Sales models (cart? toll free? email? drive foot traffic?) bring small business owners face to face with business model issues they may not have had to deal with previously. Once they get through the sales model decisions, they have to deal with what those decisions will mean to their operations. To make things more difficult, most non-technical people feel rather overwhelmed and vulnerable directing a technical process they do not understand.Many unfortunately go the simple route by adding a website to their yellow pages account. Since working at WebCentral Consulting, I “rescued” a few clients from the “simple” solution. One had a single page created by his local phone company. It cost him $350 per month! He had it for 7 years and couldn’t even tell you if he ever got any business from it. That one page cost him about $4K per year, almost $30K total by the time he came to me.All businesses must have a web presence even if you only start out small and develop your website over time. Small businesses often look at website as an expense when they should be looking at it as an investment instead. They don’t see the value, most from lack of understanding. In my experience, small businesses with a well-thought out website are satisfied but not generally overwhelmed with the results. Businesses who slapped together a website for the sake of having one could probably take it or leave it. For my business, I get most new customers through referral, but depend heavily on the website to explain what we do and provide reassurance to our customers regarding our legitimacy. While many see the potential benefits, they also want control of their website.The small business owners I’ve come into contact with often think a professional looking website must be very costly. Up until last couple years, design and own a website can be disproportionately expensive. It is still a wild west out there in the web development industry.I’ve also known some that have been badly burned by a website designer in the past who took their money and then never got any results. A business owner has been working with two designers from different companies in the past 7 months and been unable to get a finished product published. These kind of “horror” stories get passed around, sometimes making other small businesses owners afraid to pursue the idea.