It’s thought that around 40% of Irish businesses do not have a website. More and more consumers are online, particularly with mobile, they use the web to research before they buy, In fact the majority of shoppers will research purchases online before buying from a shop or local business. So why the slow progress in getting SMEs online? Business owners cite time, cost and technical knowledge as to why they haven’t moved online. So today we looked at these barriers and how businesses can get online, fast and with a minimum of cost. Nothing fancy – yet – you can be online in 30 minutes.
The Getting Irish Business Online was launched in May, 2011 in fact, but it’s this year, that SMEs appear to paying attention – particularly with the announcement of the new Business On-Line Voucher scheme as part of the Action Plan for Jobs: 2013.
GIBO is a joint initiative with Google, An Post, Blacknight Solutions and the County Enterprise boards. www.gettingbusinessonline.ie is essentially a free entry-level website for 12 months, after which you can renew it for less than €50 a year. Yes, it’s cheap – but really effective for anyone who doesn’t have an online presence.
The GIBO website starts you at the beginning, selecting a domain name, that is an online name for your business, and brings you on to creating pages and uploading images of your products or business. The website also details tips and tricks for being found and seen online and you can take advantage of the Google Adwords online advertising offer, converting $25 to $100 of advertising.
More sophisticated options
GIBO is a great initiative but there are more sophisticated solutions available – which start at less than €10 a month up to around €30 for pretty sophisticated e-commerce websites. Squarespace is a US based web company that has changed small business web design and hosting for bloggers and SMEs the world over. Launched eight years ago, Squarespace are offering DTB listeners 10% off their purchase if you enter the code ‘DOWNTOBUSINESS’ at the check-out when you sign up for a Squarespace account.
As your business grows, or if you’re moving from the basic sort of starter site that GIBO provides, you always have the option to go to a web design company – and for a full
custom solution you may well do that, but that is likely to cost you €3,000 or more. So before you go that route, and particularly you’re not online yet, GIBO should be your first step. You may not use it for that long – but it will get you started and it’s a learning experience as you’ll find what works online for your business and you’ll hone your skills on writing for the web and understanding how online is both different and similar to real-world business. The most important thing to remember is your competitors are probably online already – it’s about time you were too.
We spoke with Liz Dwyer, who’s business Beauty Bootcamp relies on the web to generate new business and is featured as one of the case-studies on GettingBusinessOnline.ie – Liz told us about her experience of getting online via the DIY options.