Four things to think about before you build your website
You have a new business idea spinning around in your head and you know you need a website. A beautiful new “my own little piece of the internet” website. You just snatched up the perfect domain name and now all you can think about is your logo, your tagline and getting this website built. In fact, you can’t think about anything but your logo, tagline and website. They must be perfect. They must be everything you represent…but what do you represent?
I have started businesses and blogs and I know how stuck you can get in these details, thinking they are the most important things. It is part enjoyment, as seriously how much fun is it thinking about the colours, imagery and words that you will use. Part excitement, because you are right at the beginning of something that could be great and change your life. But it’s also a big waste of time. You are procrastinating on something that you can’t actually decide yet. You can’t decide on the right words and colours because you don’t know what you, your business and your customers are about.
I talk with people all the time who are designing their logo and getting ready to build a website before they even know anything about the fundamentals of their business. Yes, I’m all about “starting before you are ready” but you have to start on the right things.
You need to start your business having clarity and knowing something of your unique voice. Otherwise, you are inevitably going to end up imitating someone else’s website, brand and presence and not have the impact you want. Clarity in WHAT you are doing and WHY is where it all begins. So the first two questions I have for you are: “what do you do?” and “why do you do it?”
What you do.
It’s easy: write out what it is that you do. But don’t just write “I am a store owner”. Really hit on what problem it is that you’re solving? What is it that you offer that can’t be found somewhere else? What special skills, passions, expertise and experience do you bring to the table? Pull it all together and really write about how you will serve people with this new business of yours. Make it easy to understand and think about the results your product or service will deliver. This will not only help you write website copy but it will ensure you actually convey to your customers what it is that your business does.
Why you do it.
This is a biggie. This is something I discuss with every client. The “why” of your business is essential to your success. Every market is full of similar looking products and services nowadays, each competing for customers’ attention, and the “why” is now really important to your customers. It’s a powerful differentiator between you and the next person. As Simon Sinek would say:
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Your “why” is also really important to yourself, as it pulls you through those tough times and those dark hours when being an entrepreneur is hard work. It is one of the sparks of inspiration that keeps you writing when you just want to watch TV. So I am asking you now: Why are you in business? Why do you do what you do?
As you explore your reasons remember the answer cannot be just because you “love to make jewellery”, “enjoy holding workshops” or you just “love to write”. Your divine creativity and self-expression is a part of it. But honestly you loving it does not translate into sales. People might applaud you for working in something you love but that doesn’t mean they are compelled to become a customer of your business. People buy for a reason that relates to their needs. Dig into how you will serve others and go big with it. How will you have a positive impact on your community, country and our world in this business of yours. Knowing your “why” will help with every aspect of your business from writing blog posts through to engaging in sales. It is a fundamental building block of any online business today.
Now that you’ve got those big ideas written down — yes you must actually go away and write these ideas on paper (or type them out on screen) — I have two further questions for you. These are also important to answer before you start creating anything for your business. They are: “who do you do it for?” and “how do you do it?”
Who you do it for.
I am sure you have already given a bit of thought to who your ideal customer is. But now is the time to go deeper. Who is your ideal client? If you could work with or provide products for anyone who would that be? How old are they? Do they have a family? Do they have pets? Do they like to shop organic? Get clear on the demographics of your ideal audience. Equally, now is the time to get into their heads. What do they want in life and what problem are you solving for them? What do they dream about and what do they worry about?
You need to have distinct answers to these questions because — to be quite frank — you cannot help everyone. If you talk to everyone, no one will be interested. It is okay to narrow yourself down and be specific about who your product/service is for. This is the beauty of the new economy as communities and groups of people are no longer defined by location. Your niche can reach out to a significant global audience thanks to the long tail. Finding your unique voice and audience is how you stand out and it will make everything in your business — from creating your website brief to choosing the right social media platform — so much easier.
How you do it.
The last question you have to answer is: how do you help people with their problems and needs? How does your product or service spark the transformation from where they are to where they want to be? What are all the ways you work with people to bring your message to the world?
At the start it is great to choose a few clear ways. Do you sell products? Do you teach? Do you run a program? Once you achieve clarity on exactly how you work with people to catalyse transformation and achieve results, then everything in your business becomes so much easier. It particularly helps you explain how you help people in a way that they immediately understand.
These four points probably seem like they went a lot deeper than what you need to start your website – and they should. These are some of the foundational things to ask yourself when developing your business plan, vision, strategy, tactics, tasks and systems — everything you should have in place before the first line of website code is written.
Don’t do these things backwards by trying to create tangible pieces of your business before you have clarity, as you are really wasting your time and money. I am not trying to slow you down, I am in fact trying to speed you up, as properly laying the foundations for your beautiful online home will prevent plenty of missteps and wasted time. All this information helps you complete your website brief and get that website built with purpose and efficiency. I also feel that you must also have these pieces in place to know your unique voice, style, skills and guiding principles — the things that make your business stand out from the crowd.
In the coming weeks I am going to talk more about crafting a website strategy but in the meantime if you have any questions send me an email or write a comment below.