House on computer key representing home business

A military couple I know is currently in the process of transitioning their careers from active duty to civilian life by starting a home-based bakery business.

James and Antoinette are hoping that by the early part of 2012, they will be able to comfortably roll their efforts into a successful operation.

So far, they’re doing well enough with their home baking business, selling exquisitely-made cakes, cookies, exotic pies and breads to their friends, neighbors and a handful of personnel working at their respective Navy commands.

They’ve financed alterations to the large kitchen in their home to legally accommodate such a home business.  They’ve also obtained a small business license.

What they don’t have is a website – something neither of the Morgans feel is important at this stage of their fledgling business.

“We put up posters and give out business cards,” James says.  “A website now would seem like a waste of money right now.”

“Why have a website now, when word-of-mouth advertising is bringing in most of the business?” Antoinette asks.

According to Small Business.com – a collection of resources for those seeking information and assistance in starting and running a small business – a website is essential as a new business is just beginning:

“Today, most small businesses need an online presence as much as they need a phone or mailbox. Customers and clients – current and potential – expect you to have one.  For some small businesses, a website has become the primary selling tool, a means to access inventory or collaborate on client projects.

And perhaps most importantly:

“Most people begin their search for a product online using a search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN.  Having a website, especially a web site that is designed to be an effective Internet marketing tool, can be very valuable for small businesses. Without the right web site, people will not be able to find your business. ”

The Morgans don’t realize that building a website at this point in their new bakery business will only make that business stronger, more established and viable in terms of competition once they do take that leap out of their Navy uniforms next year.

I can certainly attest that having a website is a “Must Do” early on, rather than later.

My own consulting business was extremely home-spun and small in stature back in 1993.  I, too, profited mostly from word-of-mouth advertising in those days.

Still I knew, as the internet commercially left its infancy and began to flourish in those days, I needed to be out there.  I needed to establish and validate my business where people were going to start bringing me up in searches.  Good, relevant searches.

I Needed To Be Online, period.

I jumped at the chance to get that website up as soon as possible.  It didn’t mean I was seeking a global market or planning to take the business world by storm.  (Okay, yeah, it kinda did.)

In practical terms, it simply meant that I had an established virtual storefront with the domain name I needed to represent my business as the internet continued to evolve.  And my business grew as a result.

My guess is that the Morgans are thinking the website can come much later once they’re working their business full time, once they roll out their business “for real.”

They’re missing the point that getting a website up and running now will enable existing local customers to find them in a pinch online when they need those bakery items and have possibly lost their phone number.

It also enables new potential customers locally to find them online without having to page through a phone book which doesn’t contain an ad for the Morgans’ home bakery business.

What happens to those customers who can’t find James and Antoinette without that website waving it’s arms in the air shouting, “Hey guys, here I am…Morgan Baked Goods in Norfolk, Virginia!

Yup, they buy those cakes and cookies somewhere else.

So to all the entrepreneurs out there, the following words of advice:

As you are getting the bugs worked out of that new home business, make it the #1 “Must Do” on your list….get that website up and running!

Not sure how to go about it?

Talk to the experts here at Nextfly.  They’ve got tons of ideas and won’t over-sell your needs as others in the industry might just to drive up the price of that sale.

I know.  Nextfly has been handling my own home business websites from the very beginning.

Like what you’ve read here?  Stay in touch!  Debi Ketner is a professional internet marketer.  Read her here each week on nextflywebdesign.com and share your thoughts!