Many Small Firms Forgo Web Sites

Here’s a bit of Internet Age heresy from small-business owners: 46 percent regard it as a “myth” that every company needs a Web site.

That’s one tidbit from a release this month of supplemental data from the ongoing Discover Small Business Watch polling. When small-business owners were asked in an August round of polling whether their company has a Web site, fewer than half (45 percent) said it does.

Among respondents whose business doesn’t have a Web site, the foremost reason (cited by 41 percent) was that “my business doesn’t need one.” Other reasons included “cost” (cited by 19 percent), “not enough time to monitor and manage” (16 percent) and “complexity” (9 percent).

Do consumers penalize small businesses that choose not to have an online presence? Not as much as you might expect. Polling in September among consumers asked, “Are you more likely or less likely to use a small business that has a Web site?” While a plurality (47 percent) said they’d be more likely to do so, half said either that they’d be less likely (17 percent) or that “it would have no impact” (34 percent).

Nor is there a consensus among consumers that it’s odd if a company doesn’t have a Web site. Asked whether they “expect every business, large or small, to eventually have a Web site,” those saying “yes” (46 percent) were outnumbered by the sum of those saying “no” (37 percent) or “not sure” (17 percent).

The same poll also asked consumers whether they would “consider using a service or small business that you heard about on a social or business networking site.” Forty-three percent said they would consider it, but 32 percent said they wouldn’t and 26 percent weren’t sure.

Nielsen Business Media