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I’ve spoken to endless business owners who all know the importance of having a website and digitally representing themselves and their mission. Those who don’t have a website yet so often utter, “I’m not ready yet.” What does that even mean?! Well, more often than not, if someone is not ready to build a website yet it’s one of these few things that are preventing them from feeling ready, or in control, to start the project of working with someone to build their website.

1. Gather all your services and products in a master list

Start with pen and paper or a google doc and write out all your services, and if they are packaged somehow, be sure to visually communicate that on this master list. If you have thousands of products, this may not be necessary, unless you plan to jump into an e-commerce website right away. If you do plan to move forward with an e-commerce site and selling products online, you’ll surely want to start gathering your list of products. Use this sample document for the information you’ll need for each product. Having all of this information gathered before work begins on a website is crucial and it will help you feel ready to take the next steps.

2. Research and get some quotes

Time and time again I come across business owners who know they want, and need, a website, yet they have no clue what the price tag is. How are you supposed to plan and save for something if you don’t know how much it will cost?! Talk to other business owners that have a website. If you are comfortable with them, ask the range their website cost them and what the price all included. Or reach out to designers/developers, and others that are in the digital field.

If you are upfront and open about your current status and let a developer/designer you are looking for a quote for a future project, to allow you to have the proper funds, they will be more than happy to assist, at least with a ballpark figure.

The largest reason websites range so much in price is because of custom functionality, so if you’ll want a form to capture leads on your website, think about how it will work, and if you’ll want specific actions to happen. As you begin to think and imagine your website and catch yourself saying, “if they choose this, then this happens” you’re probably looking at some level of custom development. This is why it’s important to get a professional involved, before they have to untangle a mess.

3. Start budgeting for it

Maybe part of the reason you are not ready for a website for your business yet is because of funding. Are you budgeting and saving up specifically for this investment? Set a goal within the next year to have a website, take into account the development time (each developer may have different availability), and work backward. Divide the expected total costs by the number of months between now and the goal start date. Set that amount aside each month into a separate account and label it for this project. If you are not being intentional, the money will not appear. You must take action and begin to plan and prepare.

4. Audit your visual assets

Do you have your logo files together? How about a library of photos? If not, consider hiring a local photographer to come into your business and take an afternoon shooting photos. These will be beyond valuable, and your web developer will love you forever because you have unique and authentic images to best represent your business online.

Facebook application on an iPhone next to a laptop.

5. Audit your online business presence

Check your Facebook page, update the information. Create a Google My Business listing, and post your information on Yelp. These websites will ask for all your business information. These listings will be a great resource for your web developer to cross-reference and ensure all business information is accurate on the website and elsewhere online. While cleaning up or adding these listings to your digital presence, look for dormant social media accounts.

Remember when Instagram first came out and you created an account for your business and posted 4 times that first week? Then never again posted again? Yeah, let’s just delete that account. It’ll be a lot less confusing for potential clients/customers to stumble upon that account that was last updated 4 years ago.

Pro Tip: As you audit your online presence, document where and when you post. Include any theme days that you do as well. This information will be super helpful for tip #7.

6. Purchase your domain name

This gives you some skin in the game. It’s a tangible step toward creating a website for your business and will be a constant reminder that you have the digital space for your business to be represented, you just need to take the in-between steps to get there. You can purchase your domain name through many different websites. The company you register your domain with does not have to be the same company that you use to build your website. Google Domains, Go Daddy, and Namecheap are a few of the popular domain name registrars.

7. Delegate the non-essential

Some of these steps toward being ready for a website can easily be delegated now that you know what should be taken care of before starting to build a website. Get others on your team involved in the process and project early. You’ll need their input and follow through for a continued digital strategy in your business.

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