A website is a necessity for any entrepreneur or small business owner, but even more so when you’re just starting out. A great business website allows you to be found and contacted while giving potential customers an idea of the goods or services you provide. Nowadays, entrepreneurs have tools and resources to do almost anything they need when starting a business — which means you no longer need to be technologically savvy, be a professional developer or shell out megabucks to create your own website.
Getting Your Business Website Started
There are plenty of user-friendly website platforms, affordable hosting services, and online resources that make it possible for you to build a free (or nearly free) business website. However, there are a few steps to take before you get started.
1. Create your site domain name. This would be your website name. Many companies offer free domain registration with a hosting purchase. There are a few things to consider when choosing a domain name:
2. Make it brandable and skip the numbers or hyphens. For example, try “EnjoyToday.com” over “Enjoy2day.com.”
3. Make it pronounceable. If customers have a hard time saying it, they most likely will have a hard time spelling it, which makes it more challenging to find your site.
4. Consider making it short. A short domain name will be easier to remember.
5. Always try to avoid trademark infringement. Once you have an idea of what you’d like your domain name to be, do a quick search to ensure it hasn’t been used yet.
6. Register for a hosting account for your website. You will host your website through a company for a fee — almost like renting out space on the internet. When considering which hosting company to use, research reviews and pay attention to details since different companies provide different capabilities.
Website Builder Platforms for Small Business
Once you’ve determined your domain name and registered your business website with a hosting company, it’s time to choose a website builder that fits best for your business. There are a variety of platforms that help small business owners build a functional and well-designed website — and the cost is more affordable than you might think. For your first site, try to find a good balance: a platform that has an array of functionalities but is easy and intuitive to use.
Overall, a great platform will offer you:
• A variety of website templates and themes
• Mobile design capabilities (over 50 percent of website traffic comes from mobile)
• Easy photo and gallery uploads
• Ability to sync to your social media accounts
• Ecommerce capabilities, such as shopping cart services (if applicable)
• Access to responsive customer service for quick fixes and less downtime
Below are a few website platforms that are could be a great fit for new entrepreneurs and small businesses on a budget.
• WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms for small businesses, offering easy-to-use website and blog building for beginners. They have more than 350 templates you can customize with fonts, images, logos, colors, plugins and more. The platform also has an analytics tool and SEO capabilities, which will help you understand how people are finding your site and how it’s performing on Google.
• Wix probably has the largest array of design templates in the website builder space. The templates are easy to use with a drag-and-drop feature that makes the actual building process painless. Templates can be sorted by categories such as business, photography, videography, restaurants, design, etc.
• Squarespace is best known as a service for creative industries and ecommerce companies, and it has a very strong visual appeal. While the templates are beautifully designed, they do not allow as much customization as other small business website builders do. But if your business is looking for that “wow” factor, Squarespace would be the platform for you.
• Volusion (affiliate link) is a good option for an ecommerce business. The platform allows you to sell your product in many different ways, as well as integrate with other shopping environments, such as Facebook Shop or Amazon. The website also comes equipped with different tools to help you sell at tradeshows or different marketplaces.
• Weebly has been around since 2007, and is great for small businesses that need websites, online stores or blogs. It has a drag-and-drop editor for customization, and offers other services such as email marketing, SEO or blogging capabilities. As a busy business owner, using a company that provides services beyond your website may help you save time.
If you don’t want to build the website yourself, Snapweb (affilate link) is an affordable service that does the website for you for a fair rate.
As a new entrepreneur, your budget is limited. Developing a marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website is a cost-effective way to secure leads and get your business name out there. Once your website is built, think about what kind of relevant content you can deliver to your customers via a newsletter or blog. Consider any how-to’s, checklists or case studies that your customers would find valuable, and promote these with a call-to-action back to your website.
By using the tips and recommendations above, you can create your own business website easily and quickly. For any additional business advice, Incfile has great resources to help you manage your company, including permit compliance, IRS filings or taxes. Take advantage of their expertise so you can focus on the growth of your business.
For more information, visit the Incfile Blog.
Chris Keller is a veteran the in business finance industry. Prior to starting his own business, he managed product lines at two Fortune 500 companies focusing on their Profit & Loss statements.