Is your business hiding in a dark alley?

photo by PixelFixer

What if you owned a retail operation that depended on foot traffic and visibility for a large part of your business?

You’ve got great products, your prices are attractive and you have quality staff people running your store.

Now imagine that your store is located in a dark back alley in a rough part of town.

How’s that working out for you?

Is your store a success?  Are you going to be able hang on for the long run?

Are you really mad at the commercial real estate agent that got you the space?

You might be able to make this situation work, if you have a highly loyal customer base and a product or experience that really hard to find anywhere else.  Certainly there are restaurants and bars that can make that kind of ‘ambiance’ work for them, but in general it’s very difficult to succeed in the long run when you’re not where your customers are.

The amazing thing is that everyday business owners are choosing every day to stay out of the main street and away from their customers.

Small Business Owners aren’t using the Internet

I’ve seen this statistic before, but it’s still amazing:

  • Half of all small businesses (less than 10 employees) don’t have a website.
  • 7 out of 10 solo businesses don’t have a website.

There’s a good write-up on this in yesterday’s USA Today – Should you have a website? Although I don’t completely agree with his recommended solution (a bit of a conflict since he does do work for Microsoft) – a hosted solution is certainly better than nothing.

It’s not about selling online – although that’s more and more of a draw every day, it’s about having a presence, having a storefront on the busy street where people are passing by.

It’s having your menu online when the kids are screaming and we need to find a place to pick up dinner 10 minutes ago.  If you’re not there (and quickly found), I’m going somewhere else.

What are your other options?

A full fledged custom website design will cost you anywhere from $6000 to $15,000 or more depending on how elaborate and complex you want to get.

A do it yourself template, with limited flexibility and a very plain look and feel can be done (with some technical know-how) for as little as $100 or so.

My recommended solution if you’re starting with nothing and have limited funds to start out with is to split the difference – make an investment and work with a professional, but go with a hybrid blog / website that allows for easy content management once you’re up and running.

John Jantsch over at Duct Tape Marketing shows how it’s possible to do this using WordPress with his blog post from earlier today – Is it a blog or a website? For most people that are currently not on the web, it might be a stretch, both in time available and expertise, to make that work without some expert help.

A more realistic approach if you can swing $2,000 – $3,000 is to work with a professional company that can build in custom professional design elements and get you set up for the basics of Search Engine Optimization and still give you robust content management, so you’ll be able to maintain the site yourself once it’s up.

I’d love to hear stories of business lost or if you strongly disagree (or agree).

Shawn Kinkade

2 thoughts on “Is your business hiding in a dark alley?”

  1. troy says:

    I like the fell of this article. You make me see why I need a new (and more advanced) than I have site. thanks

  2. Thanks for the comment Troy, it can feel overwhelming (although a lot of business activities can feel that way). But the good news is that there are a lot of reasonable choices out there that weren’t available a couple of years ago.


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