What: Understand the basics of building a website.
Why: To save you time and money – i.e., so you won’t purchase more than you need OR try to save money and end up creating something you will not be able to use anyway.
Example: I built this website www.smallbusinesslift.com myself for $0 upfront (2016) and it costs me <$200 per year to keep and maintain. I took an hour and set up a generic one page website here that costs me <$20 per year to maintain. I had www.miyim.com built for $2.5K+ upfront (2016) and pay a few hundred dollars monthly to maintain it.
There are two basic steps :
- PLAN out your website – i.e., purpose, functional requirements, ROI expected.
- PAY for a domain name, a place to host it, and the DIY website builder program to build your Website OR pay someone else to take care of part or all of this for you.
Is it really that simple?
Like everything else in business, there are hundreds of ways to describe, assess, and (unfortunately also) complicate website building. The fact that every advice giver has their own agenda + the overload of easily accessible info to everything = hours (and money) easily wasted and headaches.
It is for this reason that we at LIFT SME start by asking website inquirers two questions :
- PLAN. What is the END GOAL or the purpose of your website? Or, what FUNCTION does your website need to fulfill within your marketing plan? Is 90% of your business through referrals and so you just need a digital business card so people can get more information on you? Is most of your business local so a strong Google Maps presence is actually more important for you than a highly optimized website? Or do most of your customers find you through a Google search and are your competitors stealing your customers via Google Ads and other digital tactics?
Here’s a chart to help match your website END GOAL with our recommended question #2:
2. PAY. What do you want to pay to accomplish your PLAN (from Q1)? Do you want to pay more money to save yourself time? Do you want to spend more of your or your team’s time in order to not pay an outside vendor or digital marketing agency?
Although a lot of small business people tend to think saving money is better than saving time, the danger with that approach is that website building can get quite involved, tedious, and complex quickly (e.g., website security, staying abreast of the changes Google makes to its algorithm, automatic updates made to WordPress themes that end up “breaking” plugins, etc.). In other words, while it is always smart to not pay for something you don’t need, it is also smart to avoid spending a lot of time on YouTube, Google, etc., learning a little about things not essential to your business only to end up with a subpar product that you need to pay someone later to start-over or fix.
Simple rule of thumb: if you’ve more discretionary time than money, DIY; if your working on some other part of the business will earn you more money than it costs to hire someone, hire out.
So what do you need your website to do? And what do you want to pay for it?
We at LIFT SME always recommend THINKING BEFORE DOING and so hope this saves at least a few small business people from either unnecessary purchases or a lot of time wasted. If your small business marketing plan requires a more involved website or you need help putting an actionable marketing plan together, we at LIFT SME would love to connect.