Every business owner that wants to has a web site, by now.
Sure, there are still millions of small businesses who don't have web sites but I'm sure that a) any one reading this has a web site and b) those who don't have web sites by now probably never will.
But maybe I should not be so pessimistic?
Many small retail businesses, with highly local customer bases, such as local plumbers, dry cleaners and pharmacies are listed in Google local searches, or indexed in online Yellow page listings. Although they don't have web sites, these local businesses at least have an online presence, and beyond a digital brochure of their address, hours of operation and services, they really don't need much else.
On the other hand, for those businesses who want - and more importantly, NEED - a robust online presence, the tools to do this are cheaper and easier than they were 5 or 10 years ago, but still not easy enough for the average, non-tech business owner and/or their staff.
I'd like to highlight a revamped service, OnlyBusiness.com, which has a robust and upgraded platform to help businesses get online.
The three main, what I call "actionable" components they have include modules to help you create a web site, market your business online and sell online. The three main things you need to be successful online.
Other components include a place to trade leads, an auction site so buyers can bid for your products (you should also check out BuyerZone) and two marketplaces.
There are many options available to help you build your business online - what you have to do is decide which one is best for you.
For those of you who have a web presence already, switching from one platform to another might not be easy.
Whichever platform you use, make sure it can easily connect to external services and programs (such as QuickBooks), make sure it can grow with your needs and not force you to pay "highway robbery prices" with that growth.
Other integrated online business services include HubSpot (integrated marketing), Infusion Soft (integrated marketing automation) and platforms provided by web hosts Yahoo, Microsoft's OfficeLive.com. Web hosts such as GoDaddy, Hypermart and Verio include web site, marketing and ecommerce tools as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while you can use these tools to create your own web presence, and save money in the short term. In the long run, you might want to consider hiring a professional to help you build a more professional online presence that not only looks good but has the features you need now and in the future as well.
Three of my favorite web developers are: Pattie Design, Technology Therapy Group and Man Over Board
Ramon Ray, is the Editor & Technology Evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com