The Most Overlooked Opportunity to Grow Your Small Business
When I was younger, I just thought businesses existed. I didn't even realize entrepreneurship was a thing. As I got older and developed my own ventures, I developed a great respect for the hard work that accompanies starting, owning, or running a business.
After years of studying and constantly thinking about different ventures, I saw a common theme with so many small businesses. And as technology evolves, it's only going to get worse. Especially for blue collar and low tech industries. But first, a story.
I have a friend that runs a large apartment complex. I don't know the amount of units, but it's well over a thousand. She was complaining how she wants to raise the rent but can't find enough demand to move the price up. I visited the company's site recently and was abhorred.
The mobile website took 20 seconds to load.
I immediately texted her and told her that if she would let me redo the site, demand for her units would increase and she would be able to raise rent for the 1000+ tenants. If she could raise rents by $50 per unit, it would be an extra half of a million in PROFIT per year. Her response? "Don't tell me how to do my job. I wouldn't even have a site if I didn't have to."
Don't be her.
Don't think that your business doesn't rely on your web presence. Don't rely on your website that was built in 2005 and hasn't been updated.
Web Presence matters
It is KILLING your company. EVERY business nowadays needs a good website for a few reasons. Some of these may not apply to your company, but at least one of them will.
When people are looking for your service, you need to be everywhere they are looking.
For many people, this will be the first impression of your business. If you don't have a website or you have a bad website, they will think you have a low quality business.
Even if you have a limited supply of product, like an apartment complex. The more demand you have for your service/product, the more you can charge.
Do I want to buy your product? What are your prices, past jobs? Are you even open right now? If I don't know if you're open, I'm not going to drive across town just to find a closed business.
no business is exempt
There are almost no business models that customers don't turn to the internet before they buy. If you think I'm wrong, I'll make you a bet. If your established company does over 500k in revenue, I'll set everything up for FREE. The catch? I want 2% of the increased sales for the next 5 years. If your business does 1M a year in revenue and I increase it by 500k bringing your revenue to 1.5M, you pay me 10k every year for the next 5 years. Here's my contact page if you think I'm bluffing. Moving on..
Let's think about website speed. If you go to a website that isn't loading, you click back pretty quickly. How long do you wait? 10 seconds? 5? 2? As the internet progresses, this number gets lower for the average user. It has been shown in study after study that longer a site takes to load, the more people exit that site. This is an exponential curve. If your site doesn't load in three seconds, half of your visitors are gone. 20 seconds like above, you might as well not even have a website.
Below, I'll walk you through the basics of what you need to do to ensure you're making customer acquisition as easy as possible. Click on any of the links below to go straight to the section.
Small Business Mobile Friendly Website
This is a requirement for absolutely any business. Unless you're in the business of secrecy, a good mobile friendly website is imperative. In the age of the internet, people don't just call the first number in a phone book. No, they do their research. Your website will be the first thing your potential customers see. It needs to tell why they should pick you over your competitor. It also needs to be very mobile friendly. Most people are doing research on their phone and if your site is difficult to use, they will hit back and go to your competitors' website. There's 3 main options options you have here.
Pay someone thousands of dollars to custom code your site.
If you have the money, this is the best option. Even if you have the money though, depending on your business, it may not be necessary.
Build it yourself with WordPress.
This is your most economical route. Although it's the most economical, your time is very valuable and if you don't know what you're doing, you can waste a lot of it.
Build it yourself with a website builder like Square space.
I'm going to advise this route. You'll pay $10-$15 more a month compared to WordPress, but it will save considerable time and headaches. Everything is drag and drop, Google Analytics and most tools are already built in, and it's very user friendly.
Building Your Site
Go here. https://www.squarespace.com/ and click "Create a Site".
Pick which template that you want to use. Each of them have their pros and cons, but they're all pretty close to the same functionality.
Create an account.
Spend a few days playing with the settings to get familiar with how the site works. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you can knock out building an entire site in a day.
Once you're familiar with the functions and have a basic site design, click on the update now button on the bottom.
Buy or transfer your domain. Go to "Settings" then "Domains" then "Get a Domain".
Get an email with firstname.lastname@example.org from google in "Settings" then "Emails".
Congratulations! You have an updated, mobile friendly site! Too bad nobody will visit your site at this point. You need to tell Google and the rest of the world that you exist.
Google Analytics will allow you to see a ton of information on who is viewing your site and where you are getting your viewers from. Don't worry, it will take time to start building up traffic.
Go here and sign in with your email account that you created in the above step 7.
Create an account for your website. Then find your tracking code. Your tracking code will be under "Property" then ".js tracking code" then tracking code. It will be in the form of UA-XXXXXXXXX-X.
Sign into Square Space and go to "Settings" then "Advanced" then "External Services". Copy and past your GA tracking code in "External Services".
Wait. It will take a day or two before GA starts collecting data on your visitors. After a day or two, go to your website and then check GA to see if it's working.
Google Search Console
Google and the rest of the world has no clue that you just built a website. Because of this, no one will ever come. This step will show you how to tell Google that you exist and to help you slowly show up in search results.
Go here and sign in with your email account that you created in the above step 7.
Click "Search Console" and add a property. Make sure you register all four properties. https://www.yoursite.com, https://yoursite.com, http://www.yoursite.com, and http://yoursite.com.
Verify your site ownership by using the Google Analytics method above.
Pick your preferred domain. It should be one of these two. https://www.yoursite.com or https://yoursite.com Be sure that you tell Squares Space to use the same preferred domain under "Settings" then "Domains" then "Your Domain".
Go to your Square Space account under "Settings" then "Connected Accounts" then "Connect Account". Click Google Search Console.
Google My Business
If you are a business that serves a local area, like most businesses, this is a must. This will put you right in front of your customers when they're searching for a service that you provide. It will also tell your customers what your hours are, and any other information that you want to show them. Have you every wondered why some businesses show up on Google maps or Google search and others never seem to? It's because the company's that don't show up, have never signed up for Google My Business. You're essentially proving to Google that you have a physical location.
Go here and click "Manage Now".
Sign into your account and follow the steps.
Google will send you a postcard to your physical address to prove that your business is located there.
Download the Google My Business App and input the code on the postcard.
Everyone tells me that running adwords campaigns will not help your search engine ranking. That may be true. However, after spending $100-$200 on adwords for a new site, Google seems to know what to rank my sites for. It's probably because I'm telling it to drive traffic based off of specific keywords. Either way, it's at least a good idea to run a constant low volume campaign in your local area. If someone types in the name of your business or industry, do you want your competitors' ad above your organic results? I didn't think so.
Go here and hit "Start Now"
Follow the prompts to set everything up.
At a minimum, run a campaign using your business' name and it's variations. Set the budget to a few dollars a day and the geography of the campaign to whatever area you serve. Do not forget to set a geographic area! If you own "Bob's whatever", do you know how many times people search for Bob or it's variations?
This too is optional depending on your business. I'd still advise it for most businesses though. Even if you're not that active, it will still drive some traffic to your site. Once your social media is set up, Square Space has made it easy to integrate your accounts and tracking tracking traffic.
As I said before, this is one of the most important things to do if you want to grow your small business. If you still don't believe me. Take my bet from above. Here's my contact page if you think I'm bluffing.