I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m still shocked at the results of RBC’s 2013 survey of Canadian small businesses. Only 46% of those surveyed have a website, and 48% of those websites aren’t equipped for eCommerce. It’s statistics like these that motivated us to develop this website. It’s clear that Canadian businesses need a boost to bring their company online.
How Important is it to have a small business website? The same survey also found that 38% of businesses that have eCommerce-enabled websites generate over 25% of their revenue through online sales. An impressive 22% of those surveyed boast that over 50% of their revenue comes from online sales! Small businesses in Canada that aren’t online are clearly leaving a lot of money on the table.
Two of the top objections we hear from those who refuse to bring their business online are expense and difficulty. You’ll be happy to know that eCommerce has come a long way in both regards.
You can’t afford not to have a website and it has never been easier or less expensive than it is today. The website business is highly competitive, which has forced prices down for domain registration and hosting. Additionally, it is now feasible to design your own website using automated software provided by website hosting companies. It makes more sense to manage your own website these days, so you’re not dependent on a webmaster to perform simple tasks like adding a catalogue item or blog post.
Much of today’s website management/building software is developed with non-techies in mind. It is intended to be managed by people who aren’t trained web developers or designers. This makes it feasible for anyone to design and maintain their own website with a relatively small learning curve. You can minimize the learning curve by having someone set up the website within the software/host of your choice, after which you’ll only have to maintain it if you don’t want to hire a webmaster. I’ve set up several websites for friends who own small businesses, for example, designing and customizing them with graphics so they are ready to go.
If you need guidance, there are many books out there about online business. We recommend Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies for beginners.
Take Two Steps to Begin
- Your first step is to choose a domain name that reflects your company (name and preferably keywords), while keeping it as short as possible to make it easier for people to remember.
- Choose a website host with e-commerce / catalogue support (such as Yahoo, HostGator, Shopify Canada or iPage). For further guidance, please read Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business.
Keep it Simple
When considering the option of bringing your company online the possibilities can be overwhelming, especially if you’re doing it yourself. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. There are many things you can do with your website, but the most important step is taking the first one. You can start by outlining a plan for your website to be implemented in stages, beginning with a few simple pages (or even one).
Your basic website should include:
About Us – A concise description of what your business is all about. This can include your industry, specialties, products, services, a mission statement, etc. If your website will be one page to begin with, keep this as brief as possible while still being descriptive. If you have a designated “About Us” page, you can go into more detail.
Contact Us – Address, phone number, e-mail, business hours, etc.
From this basic website you can start to build a real web presence by adding:
Stage three may involve:
eCommerce (online shopping)
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Custom programming (a hair salon may want to allow customers to upload a photo and try different hairstyles, for example)
Now that you’ve got it, flaunt it!
A mere 39% of Canadian small business owners surveyed by RBC promote their business on social media. It’s easy, inexpensive, and profitable to market your business via social media, especially if you have a blog generating fresh content to share. We recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter. Add LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest once you’re comfortable with Facebook and Twitter. There are hundreds of other social media networks you can add to those when you’re ready.
Need some guidance? Here are a few expert resources to help you learn more about using social media for business success:
- To really dig into Facebook marketing, check out Canadian social media queen, Mari Smith. She’s always on top of the latest social network marketing tactics and her courses can’t be beat.
- The latest social sensation for businesses is Twitter’s Periscope for live streaming. Get ahead of your competition with the Periscope Profit Machine course.
- Pinterest has surpassed search engines for traffic generation for many businesses, but it has to be done right for maximum benefits. You can check out a free video and/or take the Power of Pinning course to get started.
- Free LinkedIn training is available at LinkedU: How to Create a Massive LinkedIn Referral Network with THE Most Influential Players in Your Market.
- The book Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and More, was revised and expanded in 2015 and is perfect for social media novices.
- Powerful tools like Wishpond (Canadian company) make it super easy to have social contests and offer coupons via social media. They have both free and paid options.
What has been preventing you from bringing your Canadian small or home-based business online? Please share your concerns in the comments below and we’ll try to help with future posts.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Should you Register a .ca Domain for your Canadian Business?
Canadian E-Commerce Sales Growth Will Outpace US (Statistics)
2012 Canadian Holiday Sales Down, Online Shopping Up (Statistics)
How Many Canadians are Online and What are They Doing? (Statistics)
Finding Financing for your Canadian Online Business
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