How do we get more small businesses to have their own website?
Yesterday I dropped off some of my wife’s shoes at a shoe repair store in Austin. I also brought a pair of my shoes to get new laces and shined.
While the cobbler worked on my shoes, I noticed that the shelves were overrun with both completed and work-in-progress shoes. I pointed out that business appears to be good.
He responded that yes, business is good.
This is surprising for a dying trade.
Shoe repair is dying because shoes are different now than they used to be. They are made cheaply. This means they can’t be repaired or it’s not worth repairing them; just buy another pair. Also, people wear dress shoes less often than before.
The shoe stores that remain benefit from less competition. But this shoe store, in particular, has another thing going for it:
“The internet has been very good to us,” the clerk (and store owner’s son) told me.
That’s not surprising. My wife first found this store by searching Yelp. The company has glowing reviews.
Yet when I searched for the company online today, I noticed that it doesn’t have a website. It has great reviews on aggregator sites but it doesn’t own its web presence. Having a website would give the company another opportunity to show up for common shoe repair search terms.
So how do we get the oldest-of-old businesses to get their own domain name and create a website? It’s a big question that companies have been trying to solve.
But a big part of it is education. Many business owners in competitive businesses will tell you they have been screwed by the platforms. Yelp pushing competitors on their own listings and Facebook charging to show up in front of your fans.
Directories and social media platforms play a role in business and cannot be overlooked. At the same time, we need to evangelize the importance of having your own domain name and own website; something that won’t be taken away at the whims of a platform’s business model.