Why Your Small Business Needs To Get Online

No matter how small your business is, if you don’t have an online presence you’re missing a huge opportunity.

I’m currently helping to organize an outdoor event in Southwest Ontario for a client. I needed to find a company from whom we could rent a large tent for the event.

Where to start?

Google, naturally.

To my amazement, I couldn’t find any search results for tent rental companies in that area. I tried several combinations of keywords; nothing useful or still in business. I got a few results for the rest of the province and a few defunct companies, but nothing useful.

This isn’t to say there weren’t any companies out there. Soon enough, through a little leg-work, I found a company. By that point, though, every other company in the area had missed the boat.

One simple website, optimized for appropriate search terms (like “tent rental” and the town name), would have owned those search results and won the business for its owner (or, at least, won the chance to pitch us their services to me). Instead, all of these companies missed their chance.

Even if you’re a sole proprietorship, you’re missing out if your company is not online. It doesn’t take much:

  • Buy your domain name ([YourCompany].com, .ca, .org etc.) and establish your site (or pay someone else to set it up)
  • Add your business to Google’s Local Business Centre

I would also consider numerous social media activities depending on the situation and the business (blogging, social networking sites, community engagement, etc.), but two things above are an absolute minimum for even the smallest business.

Nowadays, if you don’t exist online you might as well not exist.

Update: Mitch Joel talked about this very topic – getting started online – in a recent episode of Six Pixels of Separation.

  • You’re preaching to a converted crowd here, Dave.

  • Good points, Dave. I’m just finishing an e-commerce course for my Masters, and only now see the true importance of all businesses (big, small or lemonade stand) to be online. Does anyone even use a phone book anymore?

  • So true, Dave. I bang my head against the wall with some colleagues or friends or even clients with small and mid-sized businesses, when they don’t recognize the value of an online presence — even a simple one.

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  • Amanda Laird

    Kerri–I still use a phone book; it props open our front door to let the air flow through.

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  • You really nailed the point here, Mr. Fleet. Amazingly, a lot of small business owners from a lot of other countries still don’t realize the need of putting up a simple site for their businesses! Fortunately, things are really changing for the better now, eh?

  • Really true… in this era of internet making business online is easiest and economical way to get customers and to get roi of business…

  • Establishing and/or improving upon your web presence may seem complicated, but actually requires little investment and can have a big impact.  Regardless of your business type or size, don’t let these low hanging opportunities slip through your fingers – taking your business online means taking your business to a whole new level!

  • great post!!!!  Every business need to online because today internet is the most powerful way to promote your business in the world…….