One of the most widely known and influential thinkers on business management, Peter F. Drucker, once wrote, “the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer”. That simple, undeniable truth involves many elements, and in today’s business world, that inarguably includes having a small business website. Without it, how will your target customers know you exist?

Social media alone won’t cut it. Nor will traditional advertising and word-of-mouth. A combination of all four certainly will, but it’s a website that serves as your marketing and advertising foundation.

Moreover, the benefits of having a website for your small business include:

  • It gives your company credibility and legitimacy. As you know, first impressions are everything. It gives your customers the comfort that yours is a real business.
Designing a business website
  • A site helps you establish your small business brand and differentiates you from your competitors.
  • It makes it easy for people to find you online and increases their chances of purchasing your products or services.
  • It serves as your 24/7 customer service tool. If someone wants to know where you’re located, your hours of operation, learn about your company and its services, or contact you, a website facilitates all of the above.

If you use social media networks like Instagram or intend to engage in other forms of digital marketing such as email marketing, you’ll need to drive that online traffic somewhere: to your small business website.

That begs the question: how to build a small business website? Unless you have a knack for coding or experience and passion for technology, creating a website for your small business from scratch can be a frustrating and time-consuming affair. You could hire a website design agency to craft it, but that typically comes with a steep cost. Or you could explore one of the following six best website builder options for small businesses (laid out in random order):

1. Wix

With its drag-and-drop building options for small business website design, Wix is probably the best of this group regarding ease of use. You don’t need to fuss with backend coding, and it offers a broad range of designs and templates. Its pricing ranges from free to about US$30/month. But if you want to add e-commerce options, the subscription price goes up (in the avenue of an extra US$20/month). The other thing to be aware of if you go with the free version is it comes with a long, ugly URL, whereas if you buy a subscription, you can eliminate that.

2. Shopify

If your startup is all about e-commerce business, look at Shopify. This Canadian company grew from humble beginnings to become a global powerhouse used by millions of businesses. Shopify may be the darling of small e-commerce businesses whose focus is selling goods and services online. That’s because it features a plethora of advanced features geared toward those companies. The downside is it can be pricey. You can start with a 14-day free trial, but a basic site is US$29/month. It offers two other pricing plans: Shopify, which is recommended for ‘growing businesses’ that are selling online or in-store at US$79/month, or Advanced, which costs US$299/month and has pretty much everything a scaling business might need.

3. Pixpa

Pixpa is an all-in-one website building platform that simplifies website building and makes it possible to create beautiful, feature-rich websites effortlessly and without touching a single line of code.

Pixpa’s ease of use, functionality, and affordability are definitely the stand-out features. It simplifies the process of creating detailed, custom websites with extensive features like Client galleries, online store, portfolio builder, blogging tools and so much more. You get all of this at an incredibly lucrative price point, starting at just $3 a month!

4. GoDaddy

GoDaddy’s website builder may be ideal if you have no technical skills. You answer a few questions about what you want to do with your site, and it prebuilds it for you based on your replies. There are template options, too, as well as a drag-and-drop builder. Though the design options may be somewhat limited, the templates they offer are attractive and clean. It’s a good option for startups and new online businesses. You can start for free on GoDaddy but will need to pick a plan at some point. The good news is it’s affordable. Subscriptions range from $9.99 (Canadian) per month to $24.99/month for a plan with e-commerce options.

5. Squarespace

Small business owners, startups, and self-employed pros who fancy establishing a stylish website might find Squarespace to their liking. This small business website builder is user-friendly. It features many elegant templates (if you’re an independent photographer or are starting a photography business, have a look-see), search engine optimization tools, and several other elements like domain hosting, blogs, and the like. Pricing is reasonable, starting at around US$14/month for a basic site, but you’ll need to increase your spending if you want to include e-commerce and other, more advanced capabilities.

6. WordPress

Not to be confused with WordPress.org, WordPress.com includes hosting, making it easier for you to make a website for your small business and get it online quickly (WordPress.org requires a fair bit of technical and coding skills). WordPress.com also serves as a content management system, which means you can easily include a blog and other features. It’s intuitive, has a wide range of templates and themes to select, and all kinds of plugins you can add. However, this highly customizable platform does include a steep learning curve. If you go with the free option, you’re limited to what plugins and additional tailoring you might want to do.

Choosing the Best Website Builder for Your Small Business

Just as you would when considering what business insurance you need to protect yourself, it’s wise to shop around and explore your options when looking into which small business website builder to choose. Whichever one you select, be sure it’s a mobile-responsive site since more than 35% of web traffic in Canada is generated by mobile phones or tablets.

A few other points to consider:

  • Dropshipping. If yours is an e-commerce business, dropshipping is an important consideration since it doesn’t require you to purchase and hold inventory. You shop for whatever it is you want to sell and then list it on your site with a retail markup price. When a customer buys an item from you at the retail price you’ve set, you pay the wholesale price and send the order to the dropshipper, which fulfils the order.
  • Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates. SSL encrypts data transferring between you and your customers and suppliers. Think of it this way: when a customer purchases on your site using a credit card or other payment method and shares their private info with you, such as their email address, it’s your responsibility to keep that data safe from hackers. SSL certificates help you do that, and having an SSL encrypted site will juice your SEO rankings. But don’t rely on cybersecurity options like this alone; get a cyber liability insurance policy to protect yourself if your site is hacked or an accidental data breach occurs.
  • Web hosting. You’re aiming to make a website for your small business, but your site needs to be hosted to be online. That’s what website hosting is – it’s where all the files (content, images) of your small business site reside. Some website builders provide web hosting services, but not all.

Lastly, before you delve into e-commerce, be sure you protect your business and finances with product liability insurance since you can be held liable for any product you sell, distribute, or manufacture to a customer.

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