Most businesses these days recognize that they need a website to survive in an increasingly online world. Chances are, even your local plumber or electrician has a website. Businesses use a website to build their brand and make it easier for customers to find them online.

Free Website Builders

With so many free website builders available, you don’t need to be a tech genius to develop an online presence for your business. Wix, Weebly, and Ucraft all have free website builders. The site doesn’t need to be anything fancy. As long as it has a bit of information about your business, such as contact details, then that might be all you need. But as your business grows, your free website might not provide everything you need.

There are several problems with free website builders. The main one is that they are not really suitable for a professional-looking business website. They might come with mix and match templates, but don’t expect the end result to look great. You are usually limited to a fixed number of pages, you can’t use your own domain name, and you will have to displace the website builder’s brand rather than your own.

In addition, free website builders are no good if you plan on selling products via your website. They are not designed to handle e-commerce capability.

Of course, this might not matter to you. If all you care about is having a page online where customers can check your contact details and send you an email, then fine. Free is perfect. But if you are ready to expand your website, add more pages, and perhaps start selling products and services, it is time to upgrade your website.

Build a Self-Hosted Website

Even if you are not yet at that point, it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead. It is better to have the foundation ready so you can develop your website in the next six months than leave it until your business is crying out for a flashy new website.

Self-hosted websites are ideal for businesses. You use your own domain name, which can be tied to your company name or brand, and you are free to select a hosting plan that suits your needs.

Shared hosting is the basic package. It is fine for small websites with a few pages. However, if you need more flexibility and you have plans to grow the business, virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a better choice. VPS hosting lets you host unlimited domains and sub-domains, plus it is scalable as your business expands.

Invest in an Online Presence

77% of Americans spend some time online each day and this is likely to increase in the next five years. It makes sense to invest in your online presence now rather than waiting until you have missed the boat. An online presence gives you access to new markets and new customers; you are not corralled by a geographic location.

Don’t stick your head in the sand. The future is online. Upgrade your business website now and you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].