Outside of producing content for Studio Cotton, I’m a freelance copywriter and blogger, and have been going it alone with a DIY blog website for the past 13 years… oh gosh – time sure flies terrifyingly fast.
It’s got to the point where I don’t feel like my website represents my level of skill and quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to share it with potential clients, but luckily for me there’s a new website in the works (thanks Aime).
Studio Cotton founder Aime and the team are excellent at building professional websites for all kinds of small businesses – websites with lots of awesome stuff built in from the get-go, so that it can adapt as your small business grows and changes.
A professional website should take your small business to the next level, with the flexibility and power to do everything you need it to, plus a little extra. A website you can be proud of, instead of being embarrassed like me…
For small business owners like you and I, a professional website is a big investment, but sometimes a DIY website just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Your website needs to be successful, meaning that it’s efficient at attracting website visitors and converting them into customers. I’d suggest bookmarking 6 non-negotiable elements of a successful small business website ya just need to know to read after this.
But how do you know if your small business is ready for a professional website? Well, I’ll blimmin’ tell ya.
1. You have the budget for a professional website
At Studio Cotton, we are not fans of “if you spend it, they will come” or “spend money to make money,” as we tend not to build small business strategies from hyperbole and idioms.
A professional quality website is generally one of the safer bets for a small business investment, but it’s still not guaranteed to have a totally transformational pay off, so don’t press ahead with booking your professional website if that monetary commitment could put you or your business in jeopardy.
If you’re not sure what that monetary commitment looks like, we recommend a budget of at least £3,000-5,000 for a professionally built website, as this will open up a higher quality of professional web designer.
You can find website builds for cheaper, but we wouldn’t recommend that to any small business owner, as you may still be paying a heap of money for a website that won’t progress your business, and may not have all the bells and whistles that your small business needs.
2. You’ve started bodging together a website system
A lot of the time small businesses need custom functions, systems or features on their websites, and when their platform doesn’t offer it they’ll often find a work-around which solves the immediate problem, but is probably not a good long-term solution.
These short-term solutions often look like product add-ons and customisations, turning blogs into podcast listings, or finding yourself under a mountain of plugins.
Starting afresh with a new, professionally built website means that all the systems are streamlined and just work. It cuts out so much wasted time when your systems just work.
3. You’ve reached the limits of the web design knowledge you want to have
One thing I try to tell people is to learn the least amount possible to do the job – each of us only has so much memory and learning time to spare (especially as a small business owner) so we need to budget that resource, just like we budget our time and money.
Like most areas in small business, if you want to grow, you’ll need to either call in an expert or train up as an expert.
So if you’ve achieved everything you can comfortably, but need your website to work harder, it might just be time to celebrate that you’ve reached the next stage in your small business and invest in a professional website.
4. You need to start your website from scratch anyway
In our experience, a lot of small business owners commit to a website management platform without doing a full assessment of what they need and what the platform can do.
This means they’ll build a website on Wix or Squarespace or Shopify or Showit or flimflam or beepboop (some of these may not be real platforms) and then later find out that the platform they picked will never be able to do what they need to do – they need to burn it down and start again.
So if you’re only like ~18 months away from needing a professional website anyway, it might make sense to pull that deadline forward a bit to prevent you spending heaps of time on a web design project twice.
5. You’ve just invested in a rebrand
A website is probably the most important and most visible interface a customer will have with your small business, so it needs to look in-line and on a par with how you present your business.
If your packaging is seriously beaut and your socials are sickenin’, you don’t want your old-branded, dated website to let peeps down. It could result in them not becoming customers of your small biz.
6. There’s a nice grant available
Local authorities in the UK often have different grants available for different small business support services – in Bristol these are often supplied by Bristol Council and WECA. Keep an eye out for grants in your area, as you might be able to get that fancy new website sooner than you’d planned.
We’ve had website consultation clients who paid for the service using funding from councils, so as an alternative to spending the money on a new website build, you might be able to get better training on your current website.
And, as always, do your due diligence on whichever web designer you choose to go with, as it needs to be a partnership that makes sense for your small business.
7. You want to be taken seriously
This is a bit of a vague point, but there are times when a small business needs to impress a big business to achieve their goal – like selling products wholesale or getting funding or getting in fancy-ass magazines.
If you’re not confident that your website is putting your best foot forward (hey, that’s me too!) it’s worth a major upgrade before you spend £10k on that trade show, or 8 weeks on that funding application, or allll the first impressions with the press.
That should make it clearer whether you’re ready for a brand shiny new professional website, and if you feel your small business is not quite there yet, this is defo a blog post to save for later, because I totes believe you’ll be at that point before you know it.
Here are a couple of other blog posts you might find handy to read, too – 4 wise ways to tell you’re ready to launch your new small business website, and 6 very big things a brand new top-of-the-range website can’t fix in a small business.