Starting a business? Website may not be the first thing you need!

6 Mar 2017 | Running a business

Pardon me for the “clickbait-y” title. But it is indeed what I wanted to say: If you are in the midst of setting up your new business, unless it is an Internet-related business, whereby your website is the only entry point. Otherwise, chances are, the website may not be the first thing you need.

18 years in the web design industry, out of which, 11 years on my own — I have seen majority of people who came to me, who needed a new website, haven’t got their business off the ground. Some did not even have the business name yet!

No doubt, Bill Gates had once said, “If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business.” But if I understood it correctly, what Gates really meant to say is, if you already have a business up and running and you haven’t thought about taking advantage of the Internet, you will fall behind competition. But he didn’t ask everyone to go set up a website and figure out what to do with it later!

And this is what I have observed all these years! People who came to me, may somehow had a brief idea of what they wanted to do, but instead of planning and strategizing for the business, they focus on finding someone to help them create the website first. When asked about the business name, brand guide (preferred colors, style, etc), the tone of website, who the target audience was, they gave me a blank look. Like so:

When should you start looking into setting up your website?

As I have mentioned in previous paragraph, you should really spend as much time as you can on planning and strategizing your business, plus talk to as many people as you can about it, especially in the early phase of your business. The Internet, while being a cost-effective medium (and I didn’t say cheap!) should not be the only mean of reaching out to your customers. You need an Interface to tell people the story of your company and about your products? Well, you are the interface! Go out there, put yourself in front of as many people as you can, tell them the story yourself.

By actually interacting people, you will get the first hand information of how people feel about your company, about your products. Take note of their feedback. Soon enough, you will see what are the common questions people have asked. Which means to say, you would’ve gotten yourself the first piece of content for your website. Now you can go forth and talk to your favorite web designer, or me, about setting up your new website.

“But I need an email address!”

Granted, you may have thought that you needed a website first, but actually you just needed an email address of your own. You just didn’t know you could have your own email address (which also means, your own domain name) set up without having a website. You don’t even need to sign up for a hosting space yet. All you need, is first decide what shall your domain name be. I have actually blogged about it in my other website. Take a look: How to choose a perfect domain name?

Once you have decided what your domain name shall be, you may go ahead and sign up for a cloud-based email service. I’m a big fan of G Suite (formerly Google Apps) so I will only recommend that. Why should you go with a cloud-based email service but not the one that comes with your hosting service? The short answer is: So when your website is down (for whatever reason) your email service will still be intact.

“All my potential customers will want to see my website!”

Once again, granted. When people look at your email address, they may want to check out whether or not you have a website too (I do that all the time!) So looks like you still need a website right from the beginning, no? Here’s the thing, it depends on how much it bothers you. In previous paragraph, I talked about getting your own domain name, so it means you would have a domain name now. Can you live with having your domain name pointing to your Facebook Page? Yes, the Facebook Page that you can create one yourself. You may also create a Google Plus page. Or heck, go sign up for a free account at wix.com or weebly.com (I do not endorse them, but they are free!) You can quickly whip up a simple homepage, then have your domain name redirected to this page. It is so simple and you can make it happen by yourself, perhaps you will have to break a sweat. But I encourage you to experience the process of trying to create your own website. If you succeeded, you will be glad that you tried and congratulate yourself for saving tonnes of money. But if you failed, you will stop questioning why you have to pay a professional to do the job.

But of course, you can also hire me to do up an interim website for you while you continue to launch your business and talk to people. Because my web design approach is probably the only approach in this town that lets you continuously engage me to improve your website. You may read more about it on this page: How it works.

So, there you have it. I have made my point. You are starting a new business and the website is probably not the first thing you should be worried about. But if you die die must have one, there are more than one way to get it. Nevertheless, good luck, and congratulations for your new venture!

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