Making Your Presence Known: Five Tips for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners
By Jill Schoolenberg
Every small business owner has different wants and needs from their web services. But, whether you’re just starting out or have been running your business for years, one of the biggest difference makers for small businesses is having a professional online brand, including a unique domain for your website and email.
When you’re a small business, your online presence can make or break you. And in Canada, where small businesses reign, Statistics Canada says less than half (42 per cent) of all small businesses have a website and only 12 per cent of small businesses are selling online.
Finding a service provider who has the right expertise can not only save you time, it can be the boost your business needs to get your brand’s name out to the world. Here are five tips to help your small business find the professional online home it deserves.
1. Create the perfect online business presence… quickly and efficiently.
As a small business owner you’re already short on time, so going to three different websites for domain names, hosting and email doesn’t make sense. Find a provider that offers you all of these, so you have a single place to manage your online presence — from finding the perfect domain name to offering a secure managed platform and creating a beautiful and impactful website from scratch. Other useful services you can tap into include search engine visibility and email marketing tools, to help capture and retain customers. Getting started couldn’t have been easier for Martin Byers, the owner of a custom furniture business. He was able to register the ThankU.ca domain with GoDaddy while out with a friend at a restaurant. Byers’s workshop is a true craftsman’s paradise, but not necessarily the right environment to show off the beauty of his furniture for customers. “When you come to the website, it’s like the front door of my business,” he says. “It looks professional, it has everything I want you to see and everything I want my business to represent.”
2. Pay for only what you need.
Having a small business means watching every part of your budget. There’s no point spending money on tools you won’t use, so you shouldn’t be paying for them. If you only need a business email address, then that’s all you should buy. Look for a solution provider that will allow you to customize your solution, choosing either a complete hosting package or picking only the pieces that suit your needs.
3. Get an experienced partner.
Small business owners know their industries better than anyone else, but even they need somewhere to turn when entering new parts of the business world (or just tackling a new project). Before you jump head-first into your next web project, source some advice from people who do it for a living. Maybe you need to know how to build an effective email marketing campaign, or are simply unsure of how to best use your LinkedIn profile to grow your business. Whether you’re looking for strategies for tax season, trying to grow your email marketing list, or looking for help fixing common WordPress errors, find a partner who can help guide you.
And when you have questions at 2 a.m. it’s important to have a partner working the same hours you do. Find a provider that has strong service support so you can get the help you need, no matter what schedule you’re on.
4. Be available and mobile-friendly.
It’s hard enough to keep up with your favourite TV show, let alone the latest online trends. That’s why it’s important to choose web services that make it easy to stay up-to-date with mobile-ready websites, with tools that let anyone from beginners to professionals create, edit and maintain their websites. Being mobile-friendly means your online business will be more accessible to existing and potential customers. Work with a provider who will help you get there quickly and easily.
5. Find a home that will grow with you, as your skills grow.
The last thing a small business owner needs is to build an online presence that is not able to grow along with the business. Entrepreneur Cindy Sanche has used GoDaddy’s web hosting and domain name services to grow her custom chocolate business, Chocowrap. Cindy says over 75 per cent of her sales come from out-of-province orders, customers who have found her online. Now Cindy is envisioning a new business, separate from Chocowrap, and she wants to try the GoDaddy Website Builder to build the website. As she develops new business ideas, GoDaddy has the tools that help her execute them. There are many services that allow anyone to build a professional business presence online, no matter their skillset. But finding a service provider that offers access to industry-standard tools (e.g. cPanel, My SQL) that Web pros need and expect means you will always be able to take it a step further — giving you the complete freedom to build amazing things, if and when you want to.
Jill Schoolenberg is the Vice President of GoDaddy Canada, the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses. For more tips and information, visit www.GoDaddy.ca and GoDaddy Garage.