Small-business-websiteAccording to (CIRA) the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, only 41% of Canadian small businesses (see CIRA’s 2014 Factbook) have a website at all. The ironic thing about all these sad statistics is that Canadians are the second heaviest users of the Internet globally, averaging 41.3 hours per month online.

Lets examine why your small business should have a website.

1) Your customers use the Internet like they used to use the Yellow Pages phone book. Your potential customers are using their computers, smartphones and tablets to decide where to go and who to buy from. If they do not find you, then you have basically lost a sale for your small business. This is especially true if you want to be found in local searches. With mobile technology today, people are doing their local searches on their smartphones, tablets and even their GPS navigation systems – all while on the road or around the corner from your small business.

2) Your small business website gives you other marketing channels. Consider your small business website as a brochure or back-up material to your brochure on the Internet. It is where your potential customers can learn more about your company and the products or services you provide. It also provides your customers with another way to introduce yourself and another way for customers to find you.

You can build a great looking website, but it is important to note that in order to get the attention of potential customers, you will also need to do some SEO (Search Engine Optimization), creating a social media presence and maybe do some online advertising to promote your website. But the first step is to actually create a website and make it something that you can manage in-house.

3) A business website gives your small business legitimacy. Just as a people expect businesses to have a real physical business address, they also expect small businesses to have their own websites. Not having a business website or a business address raises questions in potential customers eyes, this is also why a good small business website does not have the business owners home address or P.O. box as their address on their website. It is about the optics to customers and what they think about when considering your small business as their solution provider.

4) A good small business website can also give you the opportunity for customer data collection and lead generation. You just need to know what tools to use to gather the information you want. Give your small business website visitors an easy way to provide you with their email addresses through a subscribe box on your site. This is a lot easier than asking someone for a business card or writing down their email addresses when you meet them in person. Having that potential customer’s email address allows you to contact him or her directly or to supply them with your newsletters, business articles or press releases.

5) E-commerce spending is increasing every year, but is your small business getting in on the action? According to information released in the CIRA 2014 Factbook, e-commerce spending in Canada rose by 10% to over $22 million. In the United States e-commerce was estimated at over $220 billion for 2012. A large portion of that came from business done by small businesses. So not having a website could be costing your business.

Even Statistics Canada reported that more than 51% of Canadians who have online access had used the Internet to order a good or service in 2012 (compared to 32% of Americans who have made online purchases). What does this tell you as a Canadian small business owner? Well, it’s time to step it up and get your business online.

What are the reasons for your small business not being online?

If you actually want more business, a business website is a must today. You need a website that serves as a digital business card, providing web searchers with information about your business and what you can do for them. It is the job of your website to further ensure potential customers that you are the best company to service their needs in your marketplace.

Here are some reasons that some small businesses to do have e-commerce websites…

1. Canadians small businesses are less aggressive risk takers. The fear of failing often gets in the way of venturing into unknown areas. Many want to stay doing business where they feel safe. Today there is little or no risk to having a small business website.

2. Many small business owners believe the costs of developing an e-commece website are prohibitive. The fact is, with so many easy-to-use pre-built web-page platforms, the initial costs of set-up can be very low. Using a CMS (Content Management System) website allows any one you choose to manage your website with very little training. There are even low-cost templates that have a built-in shopping cart system.

3. Online Merchant Accounts are expensive and require high bonds. While this was true a number of years ago, these days there are so many online credit card processors trying to get your credit card business that they have lowered their rates. Even some of the large banks are rolling out their own merchant services aimed directly at small business. There are even apps that allow you to add a card swipe to your smartphone and take credit cards without having to have a card terminal.