2 Website Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners (and How to Avoid Them)

If you are a small business owner or service professional looking to create a new website, you may be thinking, “It’s a jungle out there!”

You would not be mistaken.

Let’s look at a case study involving Carl, a financial planner who is a mash-up of several professional service businesses.

Carl had been running his company for a few years and was doing well. He, like all planners, wished to expand his practice with more high-end clients. He had a website, which his son had created for a high school project. He began feeling uneasy as more prospects said, “I’ll look at your webpage and contact you from there.”


Mistake #1: Failing to recognize how your website contributes to your overall strategy and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Carl regarded websites as “something you just have to have.”

The Solution:

Carl identified three objectives

  • First, he wanted to present his message to people who had been referred to him. He needed to convey his knowledge and personality.
  • Second, he wanted visitors to sign up for a free financial consultation. Carl was aware that he had a high closing ratio for these sessions.
  • Carl, on the other hand, had a specific agenda. He hoped to attract more high-end clients, those with at least $1 million to invest. His website needed to answer the question that no one would ask him in person: “Are you comfortable working with people at my level?”

Mistake #2: Assuming that web development is rocket science.

Carl was presented with hundreds of options, each accompanied by a bewildering array of jargon. WordPress? CSS? HTML? SEO? These terms were as perplexing to him as terms like “derivative” and “hedge fund” might be to a layperson who barely understands mutual funds.

The phony fix: 

Some web development firms and industry experts promised all-inclusive solutions. Some demanded several thousand dollars to design a simple website, while he would supply the content. “We’ll deliver a website for free if you host with us for two years,” some said. We’ll register your domain and set up hosting for you.”

This solution sounds appealing, but it’s akin to asking your real estate agent to select and sign the deed to your house.

One of my clients was completely hands-off until she realized her developer had vanished and her domain name had now been taken over by someone else! She ended up paying more than $200 to reclaim her own domain name.

Worse, you almost never save money. You pay exorbitant hosting fees for mediocre design and, at best, me-too copy.

The Real Solution:

At the very least, register your own domain name and host in your own name using your own credit card. Even if your designer has a developer’s license, you should purchase your own WordPress theme. That way, you’ll get the support and upgrades you’ll need in the future.

Above all, avoid anyone who makes the project appear complicated. You don’t need an elaborate program management setup if you’re a freelancer. There is no need for a lot of ringing and chirps.

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