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.

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.