SAN ANGELO, Texas — It may sound cliché, but “in this day and age” you really can’t be a business without a website.
I know the options can seem overwhelming, and when many people think of a website all they see are dollar signs, dollar signs, and dollar signs! But the truth is that a lot has changed in the past few years to make websites much more affordable and in some cases, even free.
It sounds too good to be true, right? Well to some extent you are right. There are certainly trade-offs. But, when you are a new company, it is worth it to save anywhere you can. If the choice is no website, or a free website with some sacrifices, my advice would be to go with the free website. At least for now.
So, where are these free websites? There are many options from which to choose, and you should take your time deciding, but here are a few that have great features and are pretty user-friendly:
Before you jump in, though, let me inform you of a few things you should be prepared for.
There will be some technical expertise required. I know I said user- friendly, but even the most user-friendly program will have a learning curve and you might experience some glitches or bugs here and there. But stay calm. If things seem to go haywire, there is always a way to restart, undo or basically start over. Just be sure to save a backup whenever possible, and save important images to your computer. And it never hurts to have a tech-savvy friend hang out for the afternoon while you are trying to get the hang of it.
There will be ads and other self-promoting features you can’t get rid of as long as your website is free. For example, your address will not be a clean mybusiness.com but something like username.wix.com/mybusiness. But one day, when the money starts to roll in with your new business, and you are seeing some beautiful profit, there are ways to upgrade your account that will remove these ads and give you more control over your page, such as a nice clean domain name.
But, won’t you be glad you didn’t spend that money before when you didn’t have it? Be sure to check the prices of upgrading eventually before you start, so you can be prepared when the time comes. It can be difficult to change providers once you have started, and you don’t want to lose all of the hard work you have already put into making your site look just right.
It is great to be able to afford professional assistance, and eventually you want their expertise to grow your business to the next level. However, in these early stages it is more important that you are able to cover your startup costs and begin running profitably before investing too much in promotion. These early stages are a time to test what works and doesn’t work, perfect your product, improve your customer service, and work out the kinks in your business model.
So, now you have no more excuses. Get your business onto the World Wide Web for all to see, and start sending that address out on Facebook, email and other promotional materials to drive traffic to it. Having a website, especially a free one, is a great way to start to build your company.
“Business Tips” was written by Jessica Lambert, business development training coordinator and certified training coordinator of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Jessica.Lambert@angelo.edu.