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PALM BEACH – Running a small business in today’s economic climate can be challenging at best, and for some, impossible at worst, especially when it comes to keeping pace with an ever-changing online digital landscape. The web, where most small businesses are finding their greatest returns when it comes to promotional advertising, is growing in dominance and importance. What was once considered, ‘good to have’, is becoming a ‘necessity’.
We see it all the time as more and more companies push their users for their email address, to opt-in to paperless statements, online banking, etc. Everything is moving online, and don’t expect things to slow down anytime soon, because this is where the world is going; a “digital era” – cheaper, faster and more efficient delivery system, be it information, documents, what-have-you.
As businesses move their operations online, so follows their advertising efforts. A survey conducted this year called “The State of Small Business Advertising in 2019” places “online advertising” holding an impressive lead over older, more traditional promotional methods such as TV, print and radio. Out of those surveyed, a whopping 64% said they advertised on social media channels and about half of all small businesses (49%) said they were using some type of online advertising methods to promote themselves. Unfortunately for the old-school venues, the numbers are declining into the sunset with print garnering just 36% of advertisers and TV and radio holding much less, 22% each respectively. Obviously, these numbers will only get worse with time.
Company owners are indeed addressing their Internet needs more than ever, however, according to market insight company Clutch, more than one-third (36%) of small businesses still do not even have a website yet. When asked why this was, “cost” was a leading obstacle, and that makes sense, due to the fact that there is cost in not only the expense of creating the website, but then who will manage, update, and promote it? After all, you can have the greatest website on the planet, but what good is it if no one can find it and use it to make purchases, learn about your brand, get up-to-date info on your offerings, etc. Businesses need to have someone to maintain the website, keep it up-to-date, secure, and reflective of their brand, all while being effective to customers and prospects alike.
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An effective website should serve your company as a “digital salesperson”, who is always available, and always working for you. Yet with this important addition to your business, what else will be required? You guessed it; in many cases, an additional employee, or even two employees; not something most small business owners are necessarily looking forward to adding into the mix as that means “more expenses”.
But a properly setup and well-designed website will earn its keep through increased sales, customers and profits, won’t it? It should, however, at what cost can this be ascertained? That is the question most small business owners have trouble understanding and more importantly, quantifying.
According to various listings at PayScale, a website which provides information about salary, benefits and compensation, the average web site developer or webmaster type job costs businesses in the United States on average, in the area of $67k per year. This is without bonuses, insurance, commissions or profit sharing. That’s a pretty good chunk of change for a small business trying to stay competitive in a super competitive space.
Here is a visual on average salaries when considering the types of web site administrators which would be required and how they average out.
Average Developer or Webmaster Salaries:
- Web Developer – $74,110
- Database Administrators – $89,050
- Computer Programmers – $87,530,
- Computer Support Specialists – $67,510
- Web Designer – $46,592
- Webmaster – $52,750
- Website Manager – $54,934
The average salary for a person with these, or a mix of these skill sets is $67,496 per year. Again, this is without bonuses, insurance, commissions or profit sharing. Once a business has a website, and especially if it is a complex website where users are logging in, purchasing things, uploading documents, or any of such or similar activities, at minimum, one or potentially even two of the above skill-sets will be required in order to properly maintain and manage the website. And, if the site is storing secure data, it gets even more complicated with the responsibility of keeping that data safe and secure, evidenced by the recent and growing list of data breaches; having the right set of eyes on user data is critical as not doing so endangers not only the consumer and customer privacy, but could lead to huge public relations nightmares for businesses in the event of an incident or breach.
With all of this potential cost, it’s no wonder some businesses will not only avoid a web presence all together, but go as far as suggesting that their business “does not need” a website, or their industry doesn’t require one. Such a suggestion is a cop-out at best, as noted by the referenced “Profit Press” article describing that the “real problem” is a “lack of education” and a website not being “affordable enough”. That’s why they don’t need it, because it’s too expensive. But what if a business could accomplish the management and marketing of their web presence at a mere fraction of the cost? Wouldn’t that turn the tables some; maybe even make that website presence a little bit more necessary? You bet it would.
Website management as well as all the various but related skill sets mentioned above, or even a collaboration of skill sets can be ascertained through a service provider rather than the expense and responsibility of having on-staff employees. Such a contract for services providing the above skill sets, can often be obtained from a third-party provider for as little as $1,000 per month. Such a key-decision could save a small business astronomically, reducing the over expense to just $12k per year saving the small business $55k – and this is every single year. Even if the cost were to be double that, at $2k per month, savings would remain large at $43k per year. So why aren’t more small businesses “firing their webmaster” to save money and just outsourcing these services to an agency whom can deliver them remotely. It could simply be – they just don’t know about it.
There are likely hundreds if not thousands of cases where a small business owner has employed or otherwise engaged a web designer, developer or administrator to handle their website needs while not knowing or understanding what exactly is involved in their work-product, how long it does or should take to be completed, or worse, whether or not that person is doing anything at all. Therefore, it is critically important for small business owners to better understand what their actual website and maintenance requirements are, and how effectively and affordably these tasks can be completed. Not to mention whether it would be more economical to simply outsource this work to a responsible firm.
To put this sort of scenario in perspective, a business that hires its own full time bookkeeper (or controller) might spend, $81k per year, but what if the work actually required could be accomplished by a third party who visits a few days a week, or even once per month. That $80k salary might turn into a $15k per year expense, or less, in the simplest of examples. Not something to be overlooked by any small business owner who cares about their profits.
In today’s fiercely competitive environment, companies need to have a firm handle on understanding what level of service is required and how to most affordably accomplish it. Just as this would go with anything else, it’s more important when it comes to the responsibilities of Internet services and websites, an often misunderstood area of business only complicated further by quickly changing technologies. Knowing what type of website is being run or even considered, could lead to tremendous savings for a business, not to mention be the make it or break it difference in even having one.