Business on the Internet is estimated to reach $3.4 Trillion by 2004- in North America alone! (Source: Forrester Research, Inc.). Hard to believe when you look at all the dot coms that have failed in the last few years. What really happened we might never know, but I bet that most of those companies didn’t have a solid revenue model; they simply had ideas. It takes creative ideas to get ahead today, but a structured traditional business plan must prove that your “idea” will work.
Does every company need a web site? My immediate answer would be “NO”. However, after studying a business closely and what its goals and aspirations are, a web site might be the right thing to do. A web site could be the next step to taking your company over a financial hurdle. Yes, everything needs to fit properly and a plan needs to be set out, but it could stimulate new customers and subsequent sales.
What kind of return on investment (ROI) are you looking at? This largely depends on what kind of web site you want and what you are trying to accomplish with the website. For example, lets use a photographer’s portfolio site. Completion cost was $8500. The first six months that the site was online was spent marketing and promoting the site. The second half of the year is when the photographer should start to see a return. Things could happen quicker but lets be conservative. If 2-3 jobs were completed from people that saw the web site, the total production cost of site is covered. Sales after that would cover marketing and promotion and then we should be into positive gains.
Manpower- do you have enough to handle the projected new business? If you need to start out small, do it. When you are comfortably too busy, you can always expand. Overhead costs are typically much less when doing business on line. This is why it’s an equally competitive playground.
The Internet is a viable tool for your business. You should use it not only to sell a product or service, but it should also represent your image or corporate identity. It should be included in your company plan and used as a strong branding tool. So answer some basic questions to determine if a website is right for you.
Tim Parsons is a co-founder of PANAGRAFIK – A visual communications group.
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