A friend of mine asked me recently whether to pay someone to set up a WordPress blog for them, and, if so, how to find them. They were starting a business and felt pretty stuck – the complexity of WordPress seemed so overwhelming, it would take years to master! And the business couldn’t continue before this was done. So she came to me for advice, asking what to do. Hire someone? Don’t hire someone?
Now, I build websites for a living, so you might be surprised by the answer I gave… Read on to find out more…
The confusion about business websites
I’ve found over the years that there is a lot of confusion about business websites. Everybody assumes that they need a website for their business. And they assume that you can’t start a business without one.
These assumptions lead to a lot of money being wasted, and, perhaps even worse, a lot of indecision on the part of company founders.
This isn’t helped by today’s ever connected internet world, where self-service website builders are advertised on TV and you’re bombarded with a myriad of tools that you MUST HAVE for success.
Here is a short list I’ve found while trawling the internet of the things you absolutely need to start your business:
- a marketing website
- a blog
- social testimonials
- social media profiles on all the major providers (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, PInterest, Google+, LinkedIn, aaaargh!)
- an account with Buffer to manage your social media marketing (Buffer is great but do you really need it right now?)
- a social media marketing calendar
- a content marketing strategy
- SEO (what does that even stand for? :))
And all that is before you even get started!
The situation is compounded by a subtle underlying assertion that there is a RIGHT way to start and run a business. That if you don’t follow exactly the correct strategy, then our business is going to be doomed!
And so we hunt around for those posts and courses on ‘How to get 10,000 Twitter followers in 2 weeks’, or ‘How to set up a content marketing strategy for your business’, or ‘How to craft the perfect blog post’.
Let me take some of this pressure off your shoulders:
Most of the above, including a complex website are a) completely unnecessary when you’re just starting out and b) often a complete waste of time and money.
Let’s face it: All you need to operate a successful business is customers. And to get and keep those customers, you need to solve a problem that they have. In return they give you money.
I’m not saying that this is easy, by any means. What I am saying is that you do not need a complicated setup to get started. And you definitely don’t need to pay someone to create a website for you right at the beginning.
What you actually need to get started
What you do need to do is to get out there, amongst your potential customers. Talk to them, find out what problems they face, understand their pain and how to solve it.
And when the time comes, you will find that creating the perfect website is going to be very easy because you will know what you want to achieve.
When first starting out, all you can ask is:
How can I create the perfect website that will bring me lots of customers?
This question is so vague that all it does it create anxiety and uncertainty. Don’t spend money at this stage, it would go to waste.
Once you understand your customers inside out, you’ll be asking different questions:
How can I share videos I make as part of my events with potential customers?
I want to send a special offer to people I’ve worked with before – how can I do this?
Customers are struggling to find our venue, how can we make it easier for them?
And it’s at this stage that you’re best placed to create a website. If you have the technical skills, you can do so yourself. If you don’t, you can pay someone. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is knowing what it is you want to achieve. And you can only do that once you’re business has matured.
Things you can do right now
What I would recommend at the very early stages of your business:
- Set up a very simple website, a single page will do, with details of what you offer and how to contact you. Make it good enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It will evolve into something great the more you understand your customers. A great tool to set up this website is LeadPages – but there are other self-service website builders available.
- Set up a very simple blog. This can be on cheap hosting. Use it to write about experiences your customers have, about the problems your customers face and how these can be solved. Don’t worry about a content marketing strategy right now, just write once or twice a week with a focus on your customers. A very quick way of getting your WordPress website set up is via my online course.
- Set yourself a very strict deadline to get all this done. I’m thinking of a number of days, not weeks. Today is Tuesday, for example, so I’d give myself until the end of Friday to get everything done. All of this can be done in an afternoon! When you give it more time, it turns into an important project in its own right, which it really isn’t at this stage.
- If you feel that you’re getting sidetracked, ask yourself: How many paying customers do you already have?
Finally, if you want more in-depth information on available tools, including logo design, hosting, where to buy your domain name, have a look at my Startup Blueprint.
And above all remember:
“Sometimes what we call ‘failure’ is really just a necessary struggle while learning.”
so go out there and see what works for you and your business!