Establishing an online presence expands the potential customer base for your small business. While a brick-and-mortar presence allows you to meet customers or clients face to face, developing an online presence for your company offers an unmatched opportunity to expand your company’s reach and marketplace. Establishing your business online isn’t free, though; there are startup and ongoing operational costs to consider.
Basic Setup Costs
The basic costs of moving your business to the internet include buying a domain name (which typically has a yearly renewal fee), web hosting costs and the cost of having your website designed. If you or someone on your staff is skilled in website design, you may be able to avoid having to pay a professional website designer. There are also providers of basic website templates that you can customize for your business. Some of these ready-made website templates are provided by e-commerce solutions providers, such as online storefronts like Shopify, or by web hosting server companies.
Many web host companies, such as HostUpon, offer package deals that contain the necessary essentials for setting up your business online. HostUpon’s business unlimited plan, the site’s most popular package, gives you a free domain name for the life of your company, unlimited disk space and bandwidth, unlimited business email addresses, unlimited sub-domain names and search engine optimization, which includes getting your site listed on all of the major search engines. The less expensive starter unlimited plan is almost identical to the business unlimited plan, but it does not provide SEO services. The more pricey premium unlimited plan is similar to the business unlimited plan but also provides premium backup service for all of your site’s important databases, files and emails, and a private SSL certificate that will load your website using HTTPS and a lock symbol that lets your customers know your site is secure.
Another popular web host, BlueHost, offers a package that includes professional website design and on-call support around the clock. There are web host review sites that provide side-by-side comparisons to help you select the host best suited to your needs.
There’s also the cost of the amount of time you and your employees spend planning out your site and reviewing service choices, as well as time spent doing things such as creating profiles for your company on social media platforms and maintaining your company’s presence on those sites. Because social media is so pervasive and has become so important for networking and marketing, you may also consider hiring an online marketing consultant to help you put together a marketing strategy for your online business.
If you will be selling products online, you will have to use a payment processing service. Payment processors typically charge around 3% per transaction. If your company will be shipping products to customers, then you will also have to factor in the costs of warehousing and shipping.