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Expand Your Business To The Web?

By Bob McElwain
Posted Friday, October 17, 2003

If you have a successful off-line business, but no web site to support it, you have probably considered building one. Others may even be chiding you because you haven't done so. Despite what you may have heard or others tell you, there is only one valid reason for building a web site and that is to increase profits. To create a site simply to have one, to be able to add http// to the bottom of your stationery and business cards has a grand potential for disaster.

I know of two men into negotiations. $500/hour types. Successful by any definition you care to apply. They decided they needed a web presence. Well, they have one now. And they have htp// plastered every place they can find to put it.

One page contains dynamite links, but they are not annotated, so most visitors won't know where they lead. Another page contains an excellent article; others were planned but never finished. The home page is a disaster; it lacks any kind of impact. The site is static; there have been no changes in many months. Email is not answered.

These men are not only kidding themselves about having a web presence, they are literally killing off potential business. Clearly they know nothing of the Web. The catch is some of their potential clients do. If one such person stumbles onto this site, these fellows will be totally written off. The same will happen if someone types in the URL from one of their embossed business cards.

Okay, you say, but I would take a better approach. Even so, you can not improve your off-line business with a web site unless it adds to profits. No matter how beautiful the art work, how great the content, the site will be useless unless its purpose is to expand your business. Until you can find a way to profit from a site, don't even think of putting one up.

Building and maintaining a good site is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. And anything less than good will hurt you, instead of helping. So if you can afford the time, without hurting your business, or can afford to hire someone to build and maintain it, then a web site is a possibility.

But it is only a possibility. If you want a site because others have one or to have a Web presence, then forget it. Right out of the chute your site must be clearly defined and focused on increasing profits.

If you are not clear on this point, use your favorite search engine to find businesses similar to yours. You will likely find some sites that are not making an extra dime. When you find one that looks profitable, consider how you might apply what they are doing to a site of your own.

This must be the focus of your thinking. If you decide a web site can bring more profit, over and above costs in dollars and/or time, go for it. Otherwise leave it to others to waste their time and money foolishly.


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