Every small business needs a website, but how many business owners actually think the whole thing through before spending time, money and energy putting something online? Not enough.
Sarah Brown works out of Hub Adelaide and runs Esbie, a website design and development company.
Why do you do what you do?
Communities and computers are two of my biggest passions, and I’m lucky enough to have found a way to combine them in the work that I do. At my core I am a communicator, and I love to interact with technology as a means of communicating with individuals and groups of people.
It is so inspiring to see people breaking through expectations and following their instincts, so working with small business, freelancers, entrepreneurs, creatives and empowered individuals is a natural fit for me. I love that I can be a part of their journey and help them grow their audience and carve out a niche for themselves in the world.
What do you do? Give us your elevator pitch!
I create websites and online experiences for those who are passionate about their projects, with a strong focus on function, storytelling and community building.
People come to me because websites are usually fairly high on their ‘shopping list’, and I am positioned to help them develop the technology as well as a marketing/ communication plan, and brand assets to support both.
Because every business is different, I work to develop a strategy and pull in a team of creative freelancers (e.g. copywriters, graphic designers, photographers) and together we develop a website and a digital marketing strategy that gives clients something that will help their business grow.
It’s important too to remember that the web is a living, breathing thing, created for people, by people (it’s a democratic medium) so I like to partner with my clients on a 12-36 month basis to keep the software up to date and keep the content ‘alive’.
What’s one common question or challenge you’re often asked about by other business owners?
So many people come to me saying ‘I need a website (and I need it yesterday)’, thinking that the hard part is the software and the code. I tend to disagree; I think the hard part is the business development, marketing communications plan and creative strategy that informs how a website needs to look and behave, and what it needs to say.
Many businesses don’t really know what they need or what they want the web to do for them. They often panic or get overexcited, and usually end up wasting time and money, eventually changing their minds without knowing why they don’t like what they ended up with.
What are your top 7 tips for helping small business owners get the website that they really want (and need)?
If you need a website but really know what you want, bear in mind that it can be developed in stages. If you’re feeling particularly antsy: buy your domain, get a hosting and email plan and talk to a web dev about a super simple landing page with your logo, value proposition, and contact details. This can be done in a matter of hours and shouldn’t be particularly expensive. Then you can exhale and spend your time on strategy, creative concept development and market testing.
Consider your marketing approach with your users in mind.
If digital is a big part of your business model and/or marketing strategy, then consider engaging a web professional from the early stages of business development.
ASAP is not a real measure of time
Break it down. What do you need, and when? Set clear goals and milestones for your website growth and digital marketing strategy.
Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.
I’d much rather work with you to build something that does what it needs to do for now, and then let it out into the wild so you can get real feedback from your users. We can talk about where your site needs to be in 3, 6 and 12 months and plan accordingly.
Embrace digital media, but don’t be overwhelmed by it.
Chances are you don’t need to be on 6 or 7 different social networks – just the ones that are relevant to you and your users. Do your research, ask your clients/customers where they hang out online, and talk to digital marketing professionals. Don’t waste your time, or add to the white noise on social media with poor-quality and syndicated content.
You get what you pay for.
As the old saying goes, ‘good, fast and cheap: pick two.’
Build something that’s within your price range and scope now.
Keep a view to grow your website as your business grows. Your website is a living, breathing thing. Keep it alive!
Read more: How to Plan for Business Growth
What else are you involved in?
What excites you the most about the Hub community?
For me, it is important I work in an environment that actively encourages growth, somewhere free of stifling systematic issues, with a focus on creative problem-solving. I love how supportive the community is in helping each other out, and as a nice little bonus I have made some truly wonderful friends.
If you’re launching a business or looking for a home base for your operation, Hub is both a great physical space to work as well as an amazing community to be involved in.