Website - Investment or Expense?

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Now, that’s a good question… You tell me, is your website an investment you’ve made or an expense you just paid…?

Whether you have a business, just started one or you’re planning to start one, whatever the case may be, I’m very sure you’re familiar with the concept of expenses and investment and the inherent risks and rewards associated to both…

In every business there are certain fixed, variable, one-time and ongoing expenses and you as the owner incur those expenses and pay for… Now, let me ask you a question, why did you pay your business’ bills (until the business was making money and paying for itself)? Some of you’d say those were start-up expenses and some would call it start-up investment. I would prefer the later; you see as an entrepreneur we invest our time & money in our business to make money. I would write it one more time, what do we do? We “invest” time & money to start a business to make money; we do not just spend money, we invest that money for a return… Now, I’m not going to get into the technicalities of what should be treated as what when you’re filling taxes but I definitely want to address one very important issue and that is your POV (point of view) on your website related cost. 

As often as almost always, I see website owners approach the cost of having a Web site as an expense when they should be looking at these expenditures as an investment. I tell them, if buying a piece of software to make my life easier and save time on accounting is an investment, if buying a new computer to save time and perform better is an investment then along the same definition of being an investment, a website is also an investment. A well designed and optimized website is a lead generation and conversion system by itself. It’s your own salesman online. It saves you so much of your time if you direct your customers to your website for more information, instead of answering the same question hundreds of times on phone or email… Think about it, how many times have you or your staff answered a call just to give the address and direction to a customer, add up all that time over the life of business, I am sure you can save all that time by having a well written Contact Us page on your website. That’s just an example it could be anything for your business, work samples, FAQs. A website works both ways, customers who you are going after (send them to your website) and the customer who are looking for you (on internet via Google and other search engines)…

Remember, if you’re spending the money, why not get a good one? I don’t know about other but for me personally, it’s better to make money on a $1,000 investment than to loose $800. If a couple hundred dollars that if spent now can have long term benefit is declined, may be you’re NOT making a right decision. If only a couple hundred dollars is something you cannot afford, you may want to consider the cost effective and FREE resources I noted in another post Web Presence 101. It’s not to argue that you should break your bank to get the website or pay whatever a designer asks for but it is to humbly remind you that if you’re spending money and that too on something that would be your face, your business, your office, and your shop online, prefer quality over cost.

Anyways coming back to the investment versus expense analysis of website related cost, let me make it very easy for you. It’s you who will decide and make your website an expense or an investment…Your website is an expense if –

  • You get a website just because your competitor has one or just for the heck of having one
  • You get a fancy (or may be not) website and fall into the very common “build it & they will come” trap
  • You expect your visitors and search engines to somehow magically know that your website exists and drive a lot of traffic and business
  • You do NOT do the right things like optimizing it, registering it with major search engines, promoting it on your business cards, flyers, emails and other promotional materials
  • You give up

And, your website can very well be an investment if -

  • You have a game plan. Treat it as a marketing project. Get what you want and think is right for your business
  • You register it with major search engines and send a launch email to all your former, current and prospective clients to let them know there’s one more place they can find you and your business
  • You do not look for cutting corners and saving a couple hundred dollars by compromising on quality
  • You stay open to new ideas to build and promote your website and incorporate the ones you feel comfortable with
  • You optimize it with quality content, good use of keywords, well written tags, link exchanges
  • You make full use of your website to sell as well as make your life easier, common practices like encouraging your clients to look for answers under FAQs on website or regularly check the discounts & promotions section, adding more client interaction with a guestbook, or a feedback form etc can easily bring more returning traffic and business
  • You treat your site as your face online and keep good care of it by regularly updating and maintaining it
  • You measure, monitor and make efforts to improve your ROI. Certainly register your website with a web analytics program like Google Analytics and monitor the traffic, note and analyze the trends and sources of traffic and channel your efforts accordingly
  • You do NOT give up. Patience is very important and that you need to understand and practice because not every website is an overnight success. Marketing & promotion are ongoing processes so, be patient and stay in the game

Now tell me, is your website an investment you’ve made or an expense you just paid…?

Devesh Dwivedi is a successful Management Consultant, Entrepreneur, with a diverse professional background, consulted and worked for a wide range of businesses from start-ups to Fortune 50. One of the all time Top Experts in Small Business & Startup category on Linkedin and an open networker available to help entrepreneurs and businesses. For more information please visit www.idea2inception.com

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