By Andrea Beattie (for Smart Company and Xero)
Following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels with almost nine million Australian households making an online purchase in 2020.
The numbers show that the desire to support local brands and services is growing too, with 70% of recent nbn survey respondents saying they would like to support more local businesses.
As a result, there has never been a better time for small businesses and sole traders to create a digital presence.
However, according to Xero’s Tipping point research — a new report that uncovers what it is that makes sole traders decide to start something of their own – only 37% of sole traders have a website. All of which means the timing really is perfect to get online and gain the edge over your competition.
Hallmarks of a great website
A website provides your business with a virtual shop front for local, national and international markets 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All great websites;
- Reflect your business philosophy, promote your brand and showcase your products;
- Are well designed, mobile optimised, easy to navigate and have clear calls to action;
- Make it easy for customers to contact you.
Planning and preparation
You don’t need coding or web developing skills to create your own site as most platforms offer simple ‘drag and drop’ building modules in their designs. Do your research to ensure you know how to reach your market and carve out your own digital space.
Domain name: Choose a domain name that reflects your business — it is an important promotional tool. A relevant name will help customers find you easily through a search engine, so go with www.(your business name).com.au
Hosting: Websites are stored on servers, called hosts. There are hundreds of hosting services, so choose a plan that supports the functions you’ll need, can guarantee a high percentage of ‘uptime’ (when the site is fully available), has an easy-to-use backend and offers enough bandwidth and storage space. Look into different types of web hosting; shared, dedicated or cloud-hosted.