Small businesses : Why you should get online

Close to 50% of businesses with fewer than 20 employees still don't have a website.

Annie Bourque | Journalist

Eight out of ten people look online to find a business, such as a plumber, flower shop or hair salon. However, in 2015, 50% of businesses with under 20 employees still don’t have a website!

In leaving the yellow pages, many entrepreneurs have opted to create a Facebook page with the hopes of increasing the number of their followers. “This is a mistake”, claims web expert, François Charron.

Facebook or Twitter should not be the main means of communicating with, attracting or retaining customers. “This can be better achieved through a website, an online store or a newsletter sent to clients.”

Social networks, such as Facebook, are a great place for people to talk about your business. And before buying, 67% of Quebecers were influenced by other people’s comments…

Since 2012, François Charron has been travelling around Quebec to get SMEs online, which has been an ambitious challenge. In 2015, close to 50% of businesses with fewer than 20 employees still don’t have a website. “And it’s not like its expensive or complicated.”

Three success factors to creating a website without breaking the bank

Creating the content of a webpage starts with designating a keyword, such as “24-hour plumber”, which can be easily found on Google.

The three success factors are: “At least 300 words of text, nice images and, ideally, a video”, insists the keynote speaker.

According to your means, Charron recommends investing in the services of a photographer, a writer or a reviser to improve the quality of your texts and photos.

Simply starting up an online store

Currently, 88% of Quebec businesses do not have an online business presence. However, Quebecers spend $7 billion each year online, but barely $1 out of every $4 is spent in Quebec.

In his business services training sessions offered through Quebec school boards, François Charron demystifies the complexity of having an online store, which is primarily a catalogue with files and products. “It’s straightforward: you just need a program, an online payment system.”

Trying is believing!

Having an online presence is helping ensure the success of entrepreneurs. “In these very difficult economic times, it’s like having a trump card up your sleeve”, notes François.

In his conference, he gives the example of a business in Mont-Laurier, Bellies and Ladybugs, which sold snowsuits in Russia.

Another example? A furniture shop saw increased traffic in the store as people started coming in after seeing their inventory online.

“We should keep in mind an important statistic: 69% of Internet surfers will attempt to see, try and touch the merchandise in the store. The word buy is not on the list”, François Charron rightly points out.

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