Over the past decade, Justin Kitch has helped hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs establish a web presence through his website host and creator company, Homestead.com. Although those clients have made his business possible, he's seen a fair share of entrepreneurs hesitant to embrace the internet. Their hesitancy comes down to 11 different myths about the internet--misunderstandings that are "unfortunately perpetuated by the natural tendencies of small business owners," says Kitch. "They're cautious and conservative; they're afraid of technology and change."
In an effort to educate entrepreneurs, Kitch debunks these 11 myths:
1. This internet thing is going to be a revolution. "Dude, the revolution already happened," says Kitch, pointing to the more than 150 million Americans who use the internet every day. "Anybody who thinks they can worry about the internet later is completely wrong."
2. I don't need a website. "You're missing a chance to be open 24/7, essentially for free," explains Kitch. "Why would you not do that?"
3. I'll hire professionals for internet stuff. Kitch says many people believe they have to outsource to web designers to build their site. That's false, and he actually advises against it. "You need to be dynamic, fresh and authentic--not super polished," he says. "And you've got to have control of your website and be able to change it yourself. Some designers hold your website hostage."
4. The Yellow Pages is all I need. At least half your new customers are going online to find you, says Kitch, "so you're automatically shutting them out [by not having a website]." In addition, Kitch points to the fact that you can't track Yellow Pages advertising the way you can online advertising.
5. My business is local. "There's no such thing as a local business anymore," says Kitch, noting that former local businesses such as banks, realtors and even dry cleaners have all gone virtual.
6. My website is only for new customers. "That's like saying repeat business doesn't matter," says Kitch. "Your website may or may not be the reason people come to you, but it's definitely the reason people come back to you."
7. My site is just for customers. What about employees, partners or suppliers? Says Kitch, "The ability to interact with these people over the web or from home gives you a huge amount of power and flexibility as you're growing your business."
8. My internet strategy is my website. "Your website is only the tip of the iceberg," says Kitch. Look to: e-mail newsletters, comparison sites, editorial sites, blogs, Web 2.0, social networking sites, lead generators and more.
9. Being small is a huge disadvantage. "By nature, customers would rather deal with small businesses," explains Kitch. "So embrace [being small], make it a competitive advantage, and tell your story."
10. The internet will make me rich. Nothing substitutes for good business sense. Says Kitch, "People skills and your interactions with employees and customers become even more critical when dealing with an internet business. You have to work harder to create those interactions."
11. OK, I'll do whatever you say. "All entrepreneurs have to find their own way," says Kitch. "It's a two-way street, so you still have to figure out your own path. Don't take what everyone says for granted--including myself."