TORONTO - Contrary to popular belief, most very small businesses aren't fully plugged into the Internet, according to a landmark global survey, with 59 per cent reporting they don't have their own website.
"My GoDaddy website is like a front door to my business - which consists of one employee: Me," says Martin Byers, owner of handcrafted furniture company ThankU.ca, based in Victoria, B.C.
In Canada, very small businesses were exactly in line with the global statistics with 59 per cent saying they did not have a website, according to research commissioned by GoDaddy. But many of these smallest of global small businesses are about to finally plant their own flag online, bringing huge expectations for growth and global reach.
A RedShift Research survey of 4,000 global very small businesses – defined as five workers or fewer – in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States was commissioned by GoDaddy to look at how very small businesses are utilizing the Internet. The survey found 35 per cent of global respondents without a website said they viewed their company as just too small to warrant a website. In Canada, the number was even larger than the global average with 41 per cent of respondents reporting they felt their company was too small for a website.
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However, many small businesses reported they understood that they placed themselves at a competitive disadvantage by not having their own website.
"While many very small businesses in Canada are not online -- and don't have plans to be -- the lack of a website puts them at a competitive disadvantage," said Jill Schoolenberg, Vice President of GoDaddy Canada. "No business is too small to benefit from a website, and this study shows companies that do go online are more optimistic about their future and attracting new customers. Given that Canada is a country of small businesses, getting more small businesses and entrepreneurs online could have a significant impact on the economy."
Canadian Small Businesses with Websites More Optimistic
According to the research, a major wave of very small businesses will be taking full advantage of the Internet soon: 55 per cent report they intend to create their own website within the next two years. While in Canada, only 33 per cent plan to build a website, those Canadian firms that plan to do so are much more optimistic about their potential to grow.
83% said they expect growth of up to 50% in three to five years after their website is launched
38% expected huge growth: 27% said they expect as much as 25% growth and 11% expect as much as 50% growth
Only 7% of those who don't plan to build a website anticipate similar success
In fact, 54% of those without a website believe their business will not grow at all or even shrink
Business owners expect that having their own online presence will significantly boost growth by finally making their businesses visible to local, national and international audiences:
- 40% of Canadian small businesses said they intend to sell goods from their website (e-commerce functionality) within a year of its launch
- 45% said creating a website will expand their customer base locally while 23% believe it will expand their customer base nationally
- 16% believe it will expand internationally
- 73% said it's important their new website be mobile-friendly
In addition to growth, competition is a key motivator in creating a website: 77 per cent of Canadian small business owners who already own a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those without.
Byers at the furniture company ThankU.ca in Victoria, B.C. "Technology is not an area of focus for me -- building furniture is. My website, which was up and running quickly with GoDaddy's help, is the best way for me to reach existing and new customers around the world, providing them with all the information I want to share with them."
Infographic: Canadian Small Businesses: Too Small for the Internet?
There are over 200 million small businesses in the world, but for many, making the leap to have their own website is challenging: many survey respondents said they didn't have the time, money or expertise to create a website. In Canada:
- 41% said they viewed their company as just too small to warrant one, 6% higher than the global average
- 21% said they don't have the time to create one
- 20% reported that they couldn't afford it
- 19% said it was beyond their technical expertise
The research also found that age matters when it comes to viewing a small business as website-ready. Newer small businesses were much more likely to plan to create a website than their older counterparts (71 per cent in business for three or fewer years compared to 20 per cent of those in business for four or more years). And one-person shops were less likely to build a website (53 per cent) than companies of two to five employees (40 per cent).
The research also captured interesting demographic data about those very small business operators intending to build a website in Canada:
49% are run by women
72% have 100 or fewer customers
55% have been in business for three or fewer years
The research found that of the Canadian very small businesses intending to build a website, only 19 per cent had bought a domain name for it. In addition, the research showed they are likely to take different paths towards turning that website into reality. Thirty-five per cent said they are looking for an Internet company to help them build it, while others are looking for a web designer (18 per cent), asking family to help (26 per cent) or intend to do it themselves (15 per cent).
The survey was conducted by RedShift Research of 4,009 very small businesses (1-5 employees) in June and July, 2015. Data is available upon request. Download the infographic here>>
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