Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

How important is it have a website

This is a question that many people ask themselves when business no matter how small or large the business is. I would suggest that the better question you should ask yourself is how important is it to my business to have a Web presence as for some businesses the cost and practicality of having a full website may not necessarily be justifiable. At the same time however, I would suggest that very few businesses, if any at all, can afford to not have a Web presence.

Let me ask you this question. How often when you pick up someone's business card or meet them at some business function do you check them out on the Internet in some way or another. For most people is to check their website so as to gain a greater understanding of that businesses products and services and their market. In other instances one may checkout the profiles of the business or the individuals inbox through such social networks as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Having a Web presence for your business would have to be considered an absolute necessity for anyone. What you need to do is to clearly define and understand your needs in having a Web presence, the objectives that you want to achieve and then the style of medium that best delivers to all of this.

The needs and objectives of each business will depend very much on the operations, the market, the businesses products and services and the business models in place at present as well as those still to be delivered. The different options available vary in price and sophistication with entry-level options costing you nothing if you are prepared and capable of doing a bit of work to yourself. As your needs becoming more complex and sophisticated such as integrating online shops, paid membership subscriptions or other e-commerce based functionality, then you are advised to seek advice from those skilled in delivering such online solutions. Even with commercial based solutions there is not always a clear-cut single solution that one could say is the best to suit your needs. There are many ways in which a Web site can be delivered, there are different levels of integration of different functions you may wish to include within your website and of course one of the most important aspects is your ability to secure your content and be sure that your website is always present.

How much should you pay for a website? This is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. There is no single answer and until you can fully understand and articulate your requirements it is impossible to put a value on the cost of a "website". There are all sorts of people offering all sorts of prices from $500-$5000 for what appears to be the same product. Sometimes these prices are fair and reasonable and sometimes, unfortunately, they misrepresent the true value of what you're getting.

For a small business such as a sole trader just starting out it is most probably more important to simply have a presence where people can go to find out a little bit about your business and quite possibly what others also think of your business. In this regard a business page using Facebook can be very effective. In a similar vein you could look at solutions based on Wordpress and with little or no technical expertise you can create a simple website. If however branding and styling of your website is important to you then you will most likely need to engage the services of someone with Web development skills. Once you have defined your requirements and been able to set the objectives you want achieved through your website then discussing these with a Web developer will enable you to get a realistic perspective of cost. We would also suggest that you get at least three different price estimates from different developers.

At the end of the day you must remember that everyone these days expects you to have a website and when they visit it they immediately form an opinion of you and your business. Your website could be considered a digital business card on steroids. This is how the world will view and be assured that many of the people you meet in business will be looking at your website. In this regard we would suggest that you are going to build a website that the end of the day the investment you make in having a website that you are proud of will be money well spent as opposed to cutting corners and having a cheap alternative that does your business a disservice rather than strengthening your brand.

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