Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
A how-to blog for Chicago business

Why You Should Have a Website (But Might Not Need a Social Media Presence)

Most companies don't have a website, feds say

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images

    Apparently, this needs to be said, because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 75.2 percent of businesses in this country, as of May 9, 2012, don’t have a website. How is this possible?

    Well, statistically speaking, I guess it makes sense. There are tons and tons of businesses out there, and while I would think most of them have websites, apparently they don’t. Take a look at these U.S. Census records, which goes over the number and sizes of businesses in this country, but until 2010, there are millions of small businesses in America making billions of dollars. But most of them don’t have websites? It’s weird, but true.

    For those of you on the fence about whether to create a digital presence, let’s get into it.

    It isn’t 1998 anymore.

    We’re no longer living in an era where we think the Internet might go away. Social media trends and those platforms might fall out of favor in the next few years, but something else that serves that same purpose will emerge. There’s a difference between a Facebook page and a website. You need the latter, whereas there might be reasons it doesn’t make sense for you to have the former.

    But think about it like this: If you’re a funeral parlor or some sort of service provider people don’t need to regularly be in contact with, there’s no way to make it seem “hip” and “cool” to your customers. Most people don’t care about their ISP or cable providers unless there’s a problem with their bill. You can use tactics like giving away discounts and such there, but those are ploys to get people in the door — not keep them there.

    A website is a great online front door for your business. It should cover the basics: Who you are, where you are, what you do and how to get in touch. The “who” is important because you should tell what you’re all about and also show what your company’s character is. There are lots of faceless corporations out there, and yet Apple was able to stand out because Steve Jobs was an iconic leader. Without him, Apple probably would be perceived as just another tech company. Think about what makes your company special, and put a whiff of that on your website.

    If you don’t have a website, then nobody will learn about you unless they happen upon it somehow. And nobody uses the Yellow Pages anymore, so get with the times, people.

    David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.