Why an online presence is essential for your business

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For business owners, the beginning of the new year is an opportunity to reflect on and assess how their operations can be improved.

If you’re looking to help your business get a head start on your competitors for 2013, it’s worth noting just how vital a strong internet presence is for a successful modern business.

It will seem obvious to many of you reading this but to others, this is a wake-up call. Did you know only 38 percent of all Australian SMEs have a business website? Our research over the past 8 years shows this percentage has barely moved in all that time.

Not only is the internet changing the way you can communicate with existing and potential customers, it can also make your business more productive and competitive.

On a communication level alone, the internet is providing huge advantages to businesses with an online presence. Businesses that are able to be found online have a real advantage over the competition when it comes to attracting customers, especially in Australia, which has one of the highest rates of internet usage in the world.

Depending on what research you read, anywhere between two thirds to four fifths of consumers will search online first when looking for a product or service. What this means for businesses that don’t have a website is that the competition will get to make their case to the consumer first – and if that consumer doesn’t search any other channels, an offline-only business completely misses out.

The internet is also making it far easier to expand the potential market place for your business. With the increasingly widespread availability of affordable e-commerce sites, it’s easier than ever for businesses to sell to the global marketplace. For Australia, this is helping close the distance between us and the rest of the world, something that’s always been a big economic challenge.

It’s because of these advantages that the latest MYOB Business Monitor shows businesses with a website performing considerably better than those without one.

Business operators that have a website were 53 percent more likely to have experienced revenue growth over the last financial year, and 31 percent more likely to have more work or sales in the pipeline over the following quarter, as well as being 40 percent more likely to be forecasting revenue growth over this financial year.

It isn’t just the competitive advantage of a website that is making the internet a more integral part of a modern business, it’s also the internet’s ability to transform the way we work.

The advent of cloud computing – accessing computing power, software and infrastructure through the internet and on a pay-by-use basis – is helping businesses become more mobile and more flexible. It can also help their operations become more cost effective by reducing the amount they need to spend to maintain up-to-date IT systems.

As with websites, business operators using cloud computing found themselves with better results than their non-cloud peers. They too were 53 percent more likely to have experienced revenue growth over the last financial year.

With the economy still not fully recovered, it’s important that your business is able to take advantage of every opportunity to attract more customers and work more productively. In 2013, expanding your online presence will be one of the best ways to make sure your business is performing at its best and you are well positioned for the year ahead. Best of luck!

If you don’t yet have a website, check out Getting Aussie Business Online – an initiative from MYOB and Google where Australian businesses can get a free website and domain for a year.