People don't look for your business in the phone book anymore.

New businesses aren't in the phone book. Even if they were, most phone books wind up just like this anyway.

For many new business owners getting a website up is a foregone conclusion. They decide it’s something they need to do, even if they can’t quite quantify why. Other businesses resist, arguing that they are in a business where it doesn’t matter. I stumbled on this article recently by AT&T that did a decent job breaking down the reasons it’s important for every small business to maintain a web presence. They put them into five categories:

  • Competition
  • Convenience
  • Credibility
  • Build Relationships
  • Advertising

In their article they imply that those items are in order of importance. While it’s a good summary, AT&T is a big company that isn’t in the small business trenches every day. Perhaps that’s the right order for a small business that’s been around for a few years – but what about a brand new business?

For a newly established business, credibility is a primary driver for the need for a website. As a new business, prospective customers (as well as vendors, lending institutions, and other potential business partners) are going to want to do some research before they work with someone new. When they go looking, they won’t find a new business in the phone book (if they even have a phone book). They’re going to look online. Nothing screams credibility like entering a companies name into Google, finding their site at the top of the results, and clicking through to a professional looking website.

A sampling of our clients has proved this to be very true. When we work with a client that has just established a business we see this manifested in two ways:

  • Customer Feedback – As we follow up with a client in the weeks and months after launching a site the most common thing we hear is that their customers comment that the site is what convinced them to call. As word begins to spread about the new business, people look to their sites to get information. The site is serving to establish credibility as a real business and driving prospects to contact them.
  • Data – The data we have supports what our customers are telling us. When we look at the source of much of their traffic in the early days, the data reveals that it’s largely people looking for their business specifically by name. As time goes on this stays level and people also start finding them when looking for their type of business, but those results are less immediate. The key for a brand new business is that people are clearly looking for them online.

The bottom line is people are going to look up a new business online – and smart start up businesses will have their own professional website waiting to provide information.