OK, as someone who hosts websites I realize I have a vested interest in convincing people that they do in fact need a site. I've been doing the internet thing for a while, so it comes second nature to me. But the fact remains that if you have a business you really do need a site. Not just any website like the freebies you can get some places, but one that is specific to your business (aka branded)
1. Your customers probably expect you to have one.
Simple, but true. Web sites are today what business cards used to be. Nowadays anyone can have a website, even the 9 year old daughter of one of my co-workers. With so many easy and inexpensive options available, there's no reason to leave your customers wondering "Why don't they have a site?"
2. A website with your own domain name is an easy 'branding' tool.
Even though it's not hard, having your own domain name makes your website seem more professional and established. Plus, it usually ties in to your business name or what you do, which means it's easier to remember. For instance, which of these example web site addresses strikes you as more professional? Which would be easier to remember?
3. The email address.
A huge reason your business needs its own domain is the email address. Even if you have nothing more than a single page website, you can still use your own email address when running your business. Think about it: which email address looks more professional and established?
4. Having a site makes it easier for your business to do business.
How much time would you have to spend on the phone explaining what you do to 100 prospective customers? At 5 minutes per call, that's 500 minutes or almost 9 hours. How much time (and money!) would it take you to drive to see 100 prospects and give them your 5 minute presentation? I'm guessing days. With a website, prospective customers can learn about you and your business 24/7 without you ever having to be involved. This frees up your time to do other things, things you get paid for.
5. Reach customers you couldn't get to before.
And I'm not just talking about people from around the country or the world. Take a minute to think about the types of people that live in your area. Are there shift workers who sleep during the day and work at night? What about a deaf population? Or perhaps your services would be of use to people who are disabled and aren't able to come o your office or location. Having a website opens your business up to a whole new world of customers right in your own back yard.
6. A business web site makes it easy to relay information at little or no cost to you.
If you don't have a site, how do you let your new or existing customers know if you're running a special? Chances are you call them or send out a flyer or post card. Either way, you're spending a relatively large amount of time, money, or both to relay this information. If you have a web site, you just post the information on your front page (or news page, or specials page) for prospects to see and send your existing clients an email.
7. You can save money on software and protect your ability to run your business.
This is probably one of the least thought about perks of having a web site for a business, but it's definitely worth mentioning. When you have a website for your business, you can install Open Source software that is intended to help you run your business from your website. Invoicing, scheduling, trouble tickets, accounting: the list goes on.
As an added bonus, you'll have the option of running these aspects of your business from any internet-capable computer, not just your own PC. This might not seem like a big deal, until your computer crashes and you can't create invoices or balance the books! By using web-based software you've installed on your own website, you could just head to the local library and continue business as usual.