The Big Opportunity For Small & Medium Sized Business Owners 
I've recently been doing a lot of local networking in & around Buckinghamshire & Bedfordshire. I like to mix it up from local BNI groups, to the more relaxed 4Networking, to the speed dating of the business world Business Biscotti. Anyway, after a few years 'out the circuit' and coming back to it, it's got me thinking about how people do things. 
At business networking events, you've got businesses from all different types of industries who are pitching their business. Everyone wants someone elses hard earned money. Everyone is trying to SELL to someone who doesn't actually want what they have. The competition is fierce.  
It's definitely great fun, and if you're a people person like me, you'll love the buzz, the connection, the food, the driving around and the making of new contacts. Infact, I was recently telling someone that some of my best friends now, are people who I first met at networking years ago when I first started out with my first business! It's great for making friends & building new contacts - that's for sure. 
There's definitely opportunity & benefits to be had from being 'out there' & I've definitely met some really great people over the years who have both educated me & inspired me. 
But there's one thing that REALLY strikes me about approximatly 80% of all business owners on the networking scene 
They all have extremely poor websites (or no website at all). I just don't get it. 
It's completely beyond me why this happens. Sometimes when I speak to people about a website, I kind of get the feeling that they see it as a secondary task. Like something they need to do at some point in the future. Here's the line I often hear 'Yeh, I know I need to do something about it but just haven't got round to it....(insert excuses here).........' 
In business, I'm of the opinion you can't do everything perfect all of the time. There has to be some focus on what activity is going to get you the best & fastest results possible. There are some real key items that need to be addressed in starting ANY business. 
The amount of well-presented, well-spoken, educated, passionate and friendly sales people I meet out there, whom I'm sure all do a fantastic job & provide great services, yet have terrible websites is nothing short of unbelievable. But there's a reason this is happening. The reason is knowledge & awareness. The truth is, most business owners are great at what they do, however are exceptionally poor at getting new customers.  
Now whilst this may seem like a slight bashing - it's really not. It's actually presenting you with a hugh opportunity to really capitalise on this and 'get ahead'. 
9 Key Reasons Why Having A Quality Website, Is Something  
You Can't Afford NOT To Have: 
Reason 1: Would you like the idea of a sales person who worked for you for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in all weathers, who could reach anyone instantly worldwide, who was able to reach out to people you've never heard of & who wanted what you have, who you didn't have to pay wages or commissions or referrals, who you didn't have to pay for holidays, who never went sick and they generated new sales all the time without you having to chase them or 'motivate' them. It's the ultimate employee. (They also don't take you to tribunals which is handy) 
Reason 2: A website is your online shop window. Make it look good, make sure the lights are working, floors are sweped etc. Sounds simple right? Wrong. Most businesses treat their 'online' shop window like a dumping ground with minimal thought or effort. Not the best way to treat your best & most loyal employee. 
Reason 3: There are people searching for what you do right now in your town or area. How many times do you search on Google yourself for services or products. Those who are on page 1 are making the big wins. Everyone else loses. It's as simple as that. Although here's the secret....most business owners are too lazy to bother to try and get there! Meaning it gives you a huge opportunity to beat them to it. More often than not, it's not as hard as you think either.  
Reason 4: I can't think of any other single marketing activity that's more important or effective. The reach it has is unlimited. It also has the ability to be found by people who actually WANT what you have. No persuading, no chasing sales, no cold calling, no networking. Business is a lot more fun when the phone rings uncontrollably, rather when the phone isn't ringing enough. Get people coming to you. 
Reason 5: Let's say you're quite established and you get lots of referrals from networking, or you have a paid listing on some directories. If your website doesn't look the part, people aren't interested. Here's the reason - If the owner can't be bothered to present a quality website, how will they be bothered to do the work I need? It says a lot about your attitudes as a business owner.  
Reason 6: Huge opportunity to outclass your competitors. It's your chance to rise above on an even playing field. With some effort, you can actually make your competitors look like amatuer baffoons by looking like a total master online. You can have whatever look you want, present all your information, educate your prospects, give prospects the means to contact you, and give them real reasons why you're the number 1 in the area. 
Reason 7: Having a website gives so much opportunity for unlimited sales growth. You can try & get to the top listings of Google (free), you can drive paid advertising on Google to get those top positions, you can do facebook advertising and take people to a specific page. When you're out networking you can refer to your site so people can learn more about you, you can take people from offline media ie radio, leaflets, posters etc to online and having a much better chance of getting the sale. 
Reason 8: Credibility. Showcase your knowledge. Make it known that you're the 'Go-to-guy' for that industry.  
Reason 9: Save on costs. Getting customers online is normally much cheaper, much more effective and saves much more physical time, than conventional or traditional marketing methods. Reduce your costs & increase your profits. 
To summarise: A website is definitely not a cost. It is most definitely, for any kind of business, a very smart investment. 
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