Half of small businesses still don't have websites. Why?
41% of these businesses without websites say their business “does not need a website.” This is a dismissal, not a reason.
As you can probably guess, most small business owners without websites are not tech savvy. They dismiss the need for a website because:
- They don't understand it and how it could help their business
- It seems too expensive, complicated, time-consuming, etc.
- They're “doing just fine without it” or they've “never needed one before”
Consider how much the internet has changed in the last 10 to 15 years: smartphones, tablets, Google, Facebook, Twitter, the slow death of newspapers, Amazon, etc. It's a different world.
76% of small business owners are over 45. As we get older and busier, we fall out of touch with technology as we settle into our ways.
These changes are easy to miss if you're busy running a business and most of your customers are repeat customers or referrals, but this is a deadly deception.
Just because things seem ok now doesn't mean everything is fine. That's like jumping off a building and halfway down saying, “So far, so good!”
This is how businesses die: they don't see the need to change until it's too late.
The real problem
The “don't need it” argument boils down to two things:
- Lack of education: Not understanding 1) how a website helps a business, 2) how a website helps customers, or 3) the long-term negative impact of not having a website.
- Not easy/affordable enough: Getting and maintaining a website (still) isn't fast, easy, or affordable enough for most small businesses to feel comfortable.
As professionals in the web development community, this is a failing on our part. So, how can we fix it?
Need vs. want (enough)
Almost half of small businesses without websites say they don't need a website, but they really mean they don't want it enough. There's a threshold where the want for something surpasses the pain (cost/complexity/time) of getting it.
I'd wager that 99.9% of small businesses claiming they don't need a website would change their mind if they could snap their fingers and have a fully built, maintenance free, zero cost, zero effort website.
No such thing exists (yet), but that's not the point. The point is that if it were easy/cheap enough, they'd want one. Now it's just a matter of helping them want it enough to cross that threshold.
That's where education, ease and affordability come in: Education raises their willingness to get a website. Making it cheaper and easier lowers the threshold.
WordPress and WordPress professionals are the answer to make it cheaper and easier. As a WordPress professional it's our duty (and our opportunity) to bring more businesses online for the first time and help them thrive.