Robert Robinson owns Sundries and Specialties. It’s a brand new business, and he wants a brand new website to go with it.
“Well the front page I wanted to show various items like what we may sell,” Robinson says. “Our store being sundries and specialties we may sell sundries, which is various items and then we specialize in jewelry or certain antiques. So I want the picture to represent that situation and describe some stuff about or business.”
Robinson isn't the only small business owner who wants to wade into the waters of the web. The Internet company Google, who is an underwriter on Alabama Public Radio, says 54 percent of small businesses in Alabama lack a website. That’s why Robinson and dozens of other small business owners just like him from around Alabama have descended on The WorkPlay entertainment complex in Birmingham. Their goal is to try and increase their online presence with some help from Google and Intuit websites. Jake Jepsen is a web adviser with Intuit.
“We offer a three page website, hosting package, as well as a domain name so you can have a dot-com address to make it easy for your customers to find you and all the tools you need to actually build the site as well as online support.”
However, just because it’s called the World Wide Web, doesn’t mean small business should go on-line with global conquest as their goal. Drew Tonsmeire is with the Georgia Small Business Development Center, and is one of the people helping Google get America’s Small Businesses Online. His message is…even on the web, businesses should think locally.
“It’s probably one of the most important things you know really it’s probably more important than your phone number. There are more people that are going to find you online then in the Yellow Pages,” says Tonsmeire. “97 percent of all customers engage in some kind of Internet search before a purchase so it’s critical that we have to be found online.”
If you weren’t one of the few owners to take part in the workshop in Birmingham, Google says don’t worry—there will be other opportunities. Alabama small business owners that would like to build a website to better increase their web presence can do so at alabamagetonline.com. The offer of a free website, domain name and hosting is good for a year and the clock doesn’t start on that offer until participants start building their site.