Online Business :: How much is your web site a “business”?

Yesterday, I was in the midst of a speech when a member of the audience shot their hand up, apparently to ask a question. I paused, smiled and invited the member of the audience to speak. “You’re not talking about the Internet at all,” he said. “What you are really saying is that we shouldn’t just have a web site, but that our web site should be a business in all senses of that word.” Of course, he was right. As I travel around the UK speaking about the Internet, I discover that more and more businesses treat the Internet as an afterthought; it’s as though they’ve been told they must have a web site, so they have one. Yet, if they were told they must have a set of accounts books, would they just go and get some from the local stationers and pop them on the shelf, thinking little more of them? Probably not. Yet that’s exactly what most people do with their business web site. They set up their site and leave it, forgetting all about it and then wondering why it has little impact on their business. The audience member was right; you need to treat your web site as a business in its own right. That means planning, measurement, analysis and so on. It means regular checking, updating and working out the profitability of each aspect of the site. Successful online businesses do this; but for most people I meet, their web site is a financial burden rather than a profit centre. That just doesn’t make any sense.

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