Are you thinking of starting a small business? If so, you will need to create a website to promote your online business and connect with your customers. Building your own website can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, we provide 21 tips for creating your first small business website. We’ll cover everything from choosing the best web hosting company to designing your site. Follow these tips, and you will be well on your way to having a successful online presence for your business.
1. Choose the Right Hosting Company
When it comes to hosting your small business website, you want to choose a hosting provider that is reliable and has a good reputation. You also want to make sure that the company offers good customer service to help you with any questions or problems that arise.
The best way to find out which web hosting company is right for you is by reading reviews and learning about each company’s pros and cons.
Going with Bluehost might be a good idea if you are on a budget since they offer shared hosting plans starting at $13 per month. SiteGround is another good option, and they offer shared hosting plans starting at around $5 per month. In addition, their plan includes a free domain name registration when you set up a hosting account with them.
If you are looking for a more robust hosting plan, then WP Engine might be the right hosting provider for you. Their hosting services include managed WordPress hosting plans, and WordPress users can put together a stunning, mobile-friendly website in mere minutes. This type of hosting is perfect if you want a fast, reliable and secure website.
2. Pick Your Website Address Wisely
The next step is to pick your website address, and your address URL (domain name) for your entire site will be based on it. It will speak volumes for your business too, and a good website address should be a part of website features list.
So when you pick your address, you want to make sure that it is easy to remember and includes the keywords you want to rank for in search engines. Doing so will make it easy for people to find your business online and grow your traffic.
An excellent example of this would be if you own a pizza restaurant. You might want to choose a website address like pizza-restaurant-name.com or, even better—pizza.com. If you have a hard time coming up with a good website address, there are plenty of domain name generators online that can help you develop ideas. Just make sure that the website address is available for purchase before registering it. If you really want to optimize your domain name, several fantastic tools exist for finding imaginative domain names.
3. Pick a Good Website Builder
Once you’ve determined that a website builder works for you, it’s time to choose one. If you are on a budget, then we recommend using WordPress’s free website builder. However, while a WordPress website is free to start, you can realistically expect pricing for WordPress software to fall between $11 and $40 per month after shelling out a one-off cost of around $200. There are also plenty of tutorials available online that can help walk you through the process of setting up a WordPress site.
If you are looking for other professional website builders, then Squarespace might be the one for you. They offer beautiful templates that are easy to use, and business plans start at $18/month. Plus, they offer a 14-day free trial, so you can test out the platform before committing.
Wix is another popular website builder that offers a wide range of templates and features. They also offer a free trial to try out the platform before committing to a paid plan. Wix’s unlimited plan for entrepreneurs and freelancers starts at $18/month and increases in price depending on your needs (e.g., more storage space, visitor analytics).
Other good website builders include:
If you’re a small business owner who’d like to learn about free website builders for your small business, be sure to check out Small Business Trend’s article about 20 Free Website Builders For Your Small Business.
4. Plan for Future Expansion
if you think you’ll expand your business in the future, it’s important to plan for it in advance when designing your website. Make sure that your website is easy to update and add new pages as your business grows. Additionally, choose a platform that can handle increased traffic and bandwidth needs.
A WordPress site can keep up with a small company’s expansion, but some other excellent website platforms that are flexible and powerful enough to grow with you include Wix or Squarespace. Of course, GoDaddy is fine for growth too if you want a no-frills website.
Two of the best ones that allow eCommerce and bigger stores to expand are Shopify and BigCommerce. Also, if you are tech-savvy, Joomla and Drupal are great open-source options.
5. Have a Professional Website Design
A professionally-designed website is paramount to the overall success of your business. And the best websites are easy to use, fast-loading and optimized for mobile devices.
When customers visit your site, they need to know who you are and what you sell within seconds. If they can’t figure out how to navigate through your site or find what they’re looking for, then the chances are good that they will leave your site and go somewhere else.
Additionally, when you design with a professional touch, the design for a business site should include a logo that speaks to your brand. It should also feature high-quality images and videos, clear calls to action, easy navigation, quick loading time on all pages of the site (including behind the scenes) and security features.
Website templates can help you get started with a professional website design. Still, if you don’t know where to start, it’s probably best to hire a professional web designer who understands your business and can create a site that accurately represents your brand. They will be able to help you create a website that not only looks great but also converts visitors into customers.
When you hire a professional web design agency, they will be able to help you with everything from choosing the right domain name and website builder to creating an attractive logo that speaks to your brand.
Here are some tips for finding the right web design agency:
Plus, many agencies offer affordable monthly packages, so you won’t have any upfront costs or hidden fees. You can also ask them about other services such as social media management or optimizing your website copy for search engines if you’re interested in growing your business online.
If your budget is tight, it’s typically best to start with a free website builder and spend just a few dollars per month for hosting. You can always hire an agency to help build more robust features into your site later on down the road when it makes sense for your business.
6. Get an SSL Certificate Straight Away
If you want to accept payments from customers online, it’s essential that your website has an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a security protocol used by websites to secure the connection between visitors’ web browsers and their servers. It encrypts data so hackers can’t access it without having an encryption key.
SSL certificates are important for small businesses because they help protect customer data and increase customer trust. Even if consumers aren’t aware of what an SSL is, 78% of them say they are reassured when they see the familiar padlock symbol associated with an SSL certificate in their browser.
If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, then you’re at risk of losing customers who might not want to take their chances with a site that doesn’t have one (especially if they’re making payments online). Plus, Google can penalize sites that don’t have SSL certificates by lowering their search engine rankings.
You can get a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt or pay for it through your domain registrar or web hosting company.
7. Look at Similar Small Business Websites for Inspiration
If you’re not sure what you want your website to look like, it’s a good idea to look at similar small business sites for inspiration. That way you get an idea of the types of features and design elements you might want to include on your site.
You can find examples of some by doing a Google search for “small business websites” or by browsing through some of the top design galleries online.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to copy another business’s website—you should aim to create a site that is unique and reflects your brand. But looking at other small business sites can give you some great ideas for what you might want to include on your own site.
It’s also a good idea to check out the websites of local small businesses in your area so you can see what they’re doing and get some inspiration for what might work best for you, too.
8. Install Plugins to Boost Your Website’s Features
Plugins can help you add features for anything from a contact form to a search bar to powerful SEO tools. If you want your website to do more than just show information about your business, then it’s a good idea to install WordPress plugins to boost its functionality. However, bear in mind that there shouldn’t be too many plugins and that there are many free and paid plugins available for WordPress that are excellent.
We recommend starting with the following plugins:
9. Choose a Suitable WordPress Theme
Once you’ve installed the plugins you need, it’s time to choose a theme for your website. This theme is the design and layout of your site, and there are thousands of themes available. When choosing one, it’s important to make sure that it is responsive—meaning it will look good on all devices, from desktop computers to phones and tablets.
The following themes are great for small businesses because of their responsiveness, ease of use and mobile-friendly attributes:
XTheme by Theme.co is a multipurpose theme that has four unique designs that you can use for your website. It also includes over 40 modules and 20 widget areas which give you plenty of flexibility when creating your website.
Offering a free, flexible theme that is highly customizable, lightweight and easy to use, OceanWP is a great option for small businesses. Features that set it apart include mobile-friendly appearance, responsive design and lightning-fast loading capabilities.
BeTheme has over 650+ pre-built websites that can be quickly customized and put into production without any coding. It also includes a drag and drop builder, 20 header styles, unlimited color options and more.
Astra is a lightweight and highly customizable multipurpose theme that integrates seamlessly with popular page builders and eCommerce plugins. Its wide range of features like unlimited layouts and gorgeous appearance make it especially suitable for restaurants, niche-based sites and many other purposes.
Let’s add a word of warning here about themes that advertise themselves as “completely free.” Some experts caution against using them since some aren’t secure as the ones you buy. Still, you don’t have to make getting your theme a huge expense—even investing a small amount of money in one can help keep your site secure.
9. Simple is Better
Whether you’re working with a designer or just choosing a template, you want to keep the design elements simple on your business website and not have flashy colors (unless, of course, busy and flashy is aligned with your brand). Too much going on will only confuse and distract visitors from what you want them to do, which is buy from you.
While simplicity is the goal, you should also know how to pick colors for your business website. A good rule of thumb is to use a maximum of no more than three colors. Likewise, only use two or three different fonts and make sure they are easy to read.
10. Have a Contact Page
New customers and long-term shoppers alike need a way to get in touch with you through your business website, so it’s important to include a Contact Us page or something similar on your site. Your contact page should consist of information like your business address, phone number, email address and a form that allows customers to send you a message.
Many WordPress plugins, such as WPForms and Gravity Forms, allow you to create a contact form with ease.
Another option is to have a live chat feature that let you have a more personal and meaningful conversation with your online visitors.
11. Search Engine Optimization is Key
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the ranking of your website on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. The practice matters because it can help your website appear on the first page of search results when potential clients look for the products and services you offer.
This is often referred to as organic traffic, and it’s important because studies show that 75% of users don’t go beyond the first page of search results.
Some of the best ways to improve your website’s SEO and site performance include:
Also, the search engine results pages, or SERPS, are constantly changing, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques for improving your site’s traffic.
12. Invest in SEO Tools
To improve your website’s SEO, you need access to the right tools. Thankfully, there are many great SEO tools available that can help you with everything from keyword research to backlink analysis.
Some of the most popular SEO tools include:
While all of these tools are great for improving your website’s SEO, it’s important to remember that no one tool can guarantee success. Therefore, it’s essential to use a variety of different tools and techniques to get the best results.
13. Consider Having a Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a software application that allows you to create, edit and publish digital content from a central location. A CMS is important because it can help you manage your website’s content more effectively, which can improve your website’s SEO and traffic. Many don’t require deep technical knowledge to use them, either.
Some of the most popular CMSs include:
14. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
To provide a great experience for your mobile visitors, it’s important to optimize your small business website for mobile devices. You can accomplish this by using a responsive design or creating a separate mobile version of your website. Additionally, you can use tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check how well your website performs and how user-friendly it is on mobile devices.
15. Internal and External Links are Important
Hyperlinks or simply “links” are an important part of any website, and they can be used to improve your website’s SEO and traffic. Internal links point from one page on your website to another. External links, on the other hand, are links that point to pages outside of your website.
Internal and external hyperlinks are important because they help Google and other search engines understand your website’s structure and content. Additionally, they can help you increase traffic to your website by providing more opportunities for people to click through to your pages.
16. Add Social Media Integration
Social media integration can help you improve your website’s traffic and engagement. By adding social media buttons to your website, you make it easy for visitors to share your content on their favorite social networks. Additionally, social media integration can help you track how well your content is performing on social media.
Here are a few ways to add social media integration:
17. Have an Online Store or Booking Section
If you have a product to sell, it’s vital to have an online store or booking section on your website. An eCommerce site can help you grow your small business by letting customers purchase your products from their computers, tablets and mobile phones. Additionally, many eCommerce platforms allow you to track sales and inventory so that you know how well your products are selling.
18. Use Professional Photography and Images
If you’re selling products or services, it’s important to use professional photography and images on your website. These help visitors understand what you offer and can be used to show off your products or services in action.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional photographer, there are plenty of options available online. You can purchase stock photos from sites like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime.
However, resist the urge to use low-quality stock images. If you are not willing to invest in professional-looking images, it’s best just to skip it altogether. Also, from a design standpoint, images should be used sparingly and only if they support the message you’re trying to communicate.
19. Use Reviews and Testimonials
Small business owners can benefit from reviews and testimonials. So, if you have any from your happy customers, be sure to include them on your website. These can help improve your credibility and convince visitors that they should do business with you.
A few ways to incorporate reviews and testimonials into your site are:
20. Utilize Video Elements
Video is an excellent way to engage website visitors and can be used to explain your products or services in more detail. Additionally, including videos on your website can help improve your SEO results.
There are a few ways to add videos to your site:
21. Test, Test, Test!
The best way to make sure that your website is effective is to test it regularly. This method lets you learn and tweak things as you go. Make sure that you track how well each element performs so that you can make changes as needed.
Additionally, use analytics to see how visitors are interacting with your website. This information can help you decide what content to keep, change or remove.
In today’s digital age, a well-designed and strategically optimized small business website is a crucial tool for establishing your online presence and engaging with your target audience. By incorporating the strategies outlined in this guide, you can create a website that not only showcases your products or services but also effectively converts visitors into customers. From selecting the right hosting company and domain name to optimizing for mobile devices and maximizing conversion rates, each step plays a vital role in ensuring your website’s success.
Remember that your website is a dynamic entity that requires constant attention and adaptation. Regularly analyze user behavior, track key performance indicators, and make data-driven adjustments to continually improve your website’s effectiveness. Whether you’re a startup or an established small business, investing time and effort into building and maintaining a user-friendly, visually appealing, and conversion-focused website can yield significant returns in terms of brand growth, customer engagement, and overall business success.
As technology and user preferences evolve, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in website design and optimization will help you maintain a competitive edge and continue to deliver value to your audience. With a strong foundation and a commitment to continuous improvement, your small business website can become a powerful tool that supports your business goals and fosters lasting customer relationships.
Start Creating Your Small Business Website Today
Now that you have read the tips, it’s time to put them into action! Start by creating a list of the most important things you want your website to accomplish. From there, begin designing and building your site using these tips as a guide. And don’t forget to test, test, test along the way to make sure that you’re getting the results you want.
Building strong business connections has always been a cornerstone of success. Creating meaningful relationships and nurturing professional bonds with a wide variety of people can unlock exciting opportunities and collaborations, driving growth, influence and impact. But as I keep telling my students, while human communication hasn't changed much in thousands of years, artificial intelligence (AI) opens up new means to do so, claiming to overtake many aspects of communication and make it more efficient.
As I've been researching the practices and evolution of business relationships for over a decade, there are several core issues people face around business networking:
So, can AI replace the human touch in connecting with others?
This is a common question I pose during my worldwide lectures. My answer is: I don't believe so for the current version of AI, but it can be used to support the "groundwork" aspects of networking.
Networking work consists of many small, repetitive actions such as: researching others, identifying common ground, effective communication, composing emails, creating social media posts and skillful follow-ups (where many of us tend to fail). With that in mind, the integration of artificial intelligence and networking has the potential to create a new era of efficiency, personalization and unparalleled insights than ever before.
This is why I would like to share common networking use cases and highlight some transformative AI tools that, if harnessed effectively, can literally reshape and support how we connect with others, cultivate our personal brand, expand our networks, establish meaningful connections and navigate the realm of business relationships towards business results.
Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com
In this digital world, businesses need creative ways to engage and connect with their customers. All communications are currently being handled virtually.
Gone are the days of customer appreciation events or leisurely chats. So, what are the perfect ways to connect with customers virtually? Quick Response (QR) codes are one of them.
These little black-and-white, square-shaped symbols are an easy, effective, and fast way to relay a range of important information. You can generate a Facebook QR code, as well as:
Each Quick Response code is designed for a different platform, and most of them relay unique information.
Does Your Business Need QR Codes? Let’s Discover Some Reasons
Quick Response (QR) codes have come a long way. They were initially rolled out in the early 2000s. With safety top of mind for all types of businesses, Quick Response codes are making a strong comeback.
What has changed? There is no need to download and install a separate application to scan Quick Response codes and access the information they carry. What you need is a modern smartphone. Scanning these Quick Response codes is also easier, as you only need to launch your camera and then focus it over your QR code.
The information stored in the Quick Response code automatically shows up in seconds. Also, they’re much easier to generate than before. You can use one of the numerous free applications available out there and add the information you want.
Since you already know what QR codes are, let’s look at some of the reasons why your business requires them.
They Store Information without Taking up Much Space
Quick Response codes offer a perfect way to update your customers easily and quickly on any new information. Whether it’s a website URL, Wi-Fi password, or username, a QR code will relay this information without taking up much space.
Just add a Quick Response code to your banners, postcards, or anywhere you feel your target audience can straightforwardly and quickly access.
They Can Enhance Your Social Media Following
Do you want to enhance your social media following? Quick Response codes are the perfect path to follow. High-quality QR code generators can allow you to link your social media pages, such as:
Through these Quick Response codes, your potential customers can easily follow you on any platform that works perfectly for them. Once they follow you, they can trigger communications leading to conversions and, therefore, many sales.
Also, you’ll enjoy additional benefits such as easy to track, cost-effective, great for analytics, easy data collection, and more. Generate your first QR code and see what it can bring to the table.
Image Credit: Markus Winkler / Unsplash
For many small business owners and entrepreneurs, operating internationally from day one is crucial to long-term success. But starting a small business domestically is hard enough, how can these leaders be expected to go global so quickly?
Contrary to popular belief, expanding a small business internationally is a much more manageable process than it may seem. While there are obstacles to overcome — banking differences, culture or language barriers, lack of capital and import tariffs — entrepreneurs and small business leaders can employ a few tricks to overcome these challenges and start operating abroad.
Given the incredible long-term opportunity it presents for these businesses, leaders need to think and operate globally as quickly as possible. Here's what to know about getting started and ultimately expanding your business abroad.
Outline market opportunities and business needs
An important part of growing your business to international markets is starting with a strong understanding of where you stand against competitors in a new country and assessing demand for your product or service. Conducting market research is a great way to identify where your business stacks up and what to expect from your potential move abroad. By outlining your target audience's specific needs and preferences in different countries, you can tailor your offerings to meet their requirements and gain a competitive edge.
You will also need to assess the specific needs of your business in the new countries you are expanding. You'll need to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in operating overseas, which will vary country by country. Carefully review and understand these requirements before you commence work in another country. Getting everything set up from a compliance perspective, first and foremost, will build the foundation you need for the future.
Many countries have resources for small businesses looking to expand into that market. The US Small Business Association has an excellent guide that outlines this process and provides a great starting point for those in the US.
Think differently about your workforce
In addition to this initial market research, leaders should consider their current workforce. While many small businesses and entrepreneurs are teams of one, having a local presence in the markets you're expanding to is still important.
If possible, hire a local team to have on-the-ground support from folks who understand the cultural nuances, market dynamics and language of the target country you're moving into. This facilitates smoother operations and helps build trust and credibility with local customers. Depending on the business size or expectations of success, consider leveraging remote workers or utilizing freelance contract-based professionals who are local to the market. This can offer flexibility while minimizing overhead costs.
Ultimately, embracing and building a diverse and multicultural workforce brings fresh perspectives, fosters innovation and enhances your business's ability to adapt to local markets.
Create a network to learn from and grow with
Alongside establishing a strong local team comes building a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and leaders who have already expanded their businesses abroad or are also looking to do so. There is so much to learn from others who have come before you and found success, and cultivating this network will be a massive benefit throughout the global expansion process.
You can build this network by joining industry-specific trade associations, attending conferences and participating in international business forums. This will help connect you with individuals with firsthand knowledge of operating in foreign markets. Their guidance and advice can help you navigate the international expansion complexities and avoid common pitfalls.
Collaboration and knowledge-sharing within the entrepreneurial community can foster growth and open doors to new opportunities. Remember to share your experiences with the groups you join to help others.
Put the right tools in place
Tying all of these pieces together comes one of the most important factors when expanding globally: having the right infrastructure in place for your business operations. Luckily, there are incredible tools available to help any business build this successfully.
There are many options available for all businesses to select when it comes to building their suite of tools, which will vary based on your services and offerings. Everything from cloud-based collaboration platforms, project management tools, online banking resources and communication software exists to help facilitate efficiency across your business. It can be overwhelming to see everything out there, and a good first step is to outline the different tools you currently use against those you likely need.
There are also several essential tools to consider at the top of your list — especially for financial management and banking. International payments are a particularly challenging area for many businesses as they go global, with traditional services often lacking transparency on fees and taking way too long for transactions to process.
My company, Wise, provides international payment solutions for small businesses. By leveraging the existing power and infrastructure these companies provide, you can have more control and autonomy over the financial aspects of your business operations without added hassle and stress.
As you become more established, you can also invest in ecommerce platforms and digital marketing strategies to help cultivate a strong online presence in new international markets, expanding your reach and driving customer acquisition.
Your business can find success abroad
Overall, expanding your business internationally is a feasible and exciting endeavor. While challenges exist, entrepreneurs and small business leaders can overcome these obstacles by adopting the right strategies. With careful planning, market research and a willingness to adapt, businesses of all sizes can seize the opportunities presented by international expansion. So, take the leap and unlock the untapped potential beyond your borders.
Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com
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