Changes in cloud computing and big data have allowed all sizes of businesses to develop more effectively for the web. However, there are still some significant differences between the needs of large and small companies. Keep in mind that small-business owners often work on a tight budget and may not find the bells and whistles of larger corporations as affordable. However, small, medium and large operations should all focus on functionality and take a user-centric approach.
A small business is defined as having less than 500 employees, although the number can vary depending upon circumstances and industry. As of the latest Census Bureau update, there were an estimated 5.6 million employers in the U.S. About 99.7% of that number was firms with under 500 workers.
The average budget small and large businesses have for web development varies widely. A tiny company with only a few employees may have just a few hundred dollars to get its website online. However, a larger firm may be able to spend thousands of dollars and implement features such as automated inventory controls and other business intelligence (BI) measures.
When it comes to web development, there are some similarities between both small and large businesses. However, there are also several differences.
The larger your company, the more customer data you’re responsible for. A small firm may take orders over the phone, while a large business may automate this process with online ordering. It’s important to protect the privacy of your customers. In addition to encrypting information and ensuring you have a secure socket layer (SSL) in place, you should also never sell your customers’ data, or you’ll risk turning them from fans into critics.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) impacts any business that works with citizens of the European Union. It’s important to make sure your privacy policies are clearly outlined and that you only collect information you need. Even someone just visiting your site or signing up for your newsletter may fall under EU rules. The EU canfineanyone not in compliance. They’ve done so with American companies such as Google, so proceed with caution in this area. When in doubt, consult an attorney for compliance help.
Putting a privacy and data policy in place is just smart business. Very small companies may not have the funds to retain an attorney. Fortunately, using templates can ensure GDPR compliance. Larger operations will want to seek professional help, as they will naturally have more opportunities to violate laws and be a bigger target for fines.
When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), large firms have more complex issues and may need enterprise software solutions rather than small to medium-sized business software. For example, SMB CRM software might offer contact management, call recording, scheduling, and email or phone reminders.
However, enterprise-level CRM software will provide all that and also account and help desk management, multi-channel support and workflow tools.
There are many advantages to CRMs for any size business, such as the ability to create territory maps and assign areas to sales reps by ZIP code. You can also automate aspects of the customer experience, such as sending follow-up emails or reminders when it’s time to reorder.
The CRM system only works as well as the data you input. Train your employees to record information on customers, so you have enough information to create helpful reports and automate processes.
Small businesses are a big target for hackers. The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report uncovered around 43% of cyberattacks happened to smaller companies. You might think criminals would target larger firms, but little ones are often unprotected and make easier targets than large corporations who’ve invested in the best software and systems available.
Large corporations, of course, are vulnerable as well. In 2018 alone, there were huge breaches of companies such as Equifax, Twitter and Facebook. However, bigger companies also can afford more advanced security systems that are not as accessible to smaller businesses. They can still copy some of the methods used by large companies, such as purging files often, making sure firewalls are installed and using complex passwords.
Large corporations such as Amazon seem to have their hand in nearly everything. Pop over to its site and you’ll find products for consumers, services for businesses, a self-publishing platform, and audio and video streaming services. However, smaller companies must start by focusing on a smaller niche market. Reaching the right target audience requires a lot of research and marketing savvy. If a small company tries to be everything to everyone, it will soon use up every penny of its advertising market without reaching anyone in particular.
Social media helps to level the playing field. Small businesses can advertise to the exact people they want to reach and point out their advantages over larger firms, such as more customized services in a specific area. While corporations might have more money to spend on social media marketing, with a bit of time and creativity, even the smallest business can still reach new customers.
No matter how large or small your organization, spend your marketing dollars smarter. Think about the best ways to reach your buyer personas. Which social media sites do they hang out on and what types of posts do they share? How can you best engage those users?
An outdated website can turn off customers, who often look to the aesthetic of a site when deciding if they like it or not. It’s often the first impression a person has of your brand, so make sure you include at least a few new features regularly. If your budget is small, figure out what is easy to add or enlist the help of a design student to upgrade features.
Even though big businesses might have more dollars to spend on web development, they shouldn’t jump onto every trend that comes along. Trends come and go, and there is no sense in throwing away your money on a new look that turns out to be difficult to read. Focus instead on improving the function and usability of your site.
A usable website is easy to navigate and isn’t so busy that it’s hard to read. There is a clear purpose to each page, and calls to action (CTAs) are easy to find and click. Excellent sites meet user expectations and can be unique, but shouldn’t be too outside the box.
Every business wants to rank high in search engine results. Multiple studies have shown that the first few tend to be where the majority of people click.
Conducting some SEO research is sound web development advice, but how much is too much? You can drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with Google algorithm changes and hit the top slot.
Allot a specific amount of time to spend on SEO research and then move on to other tasks. This is especially important for small-business owners who often have to fulfill many roles within the company.
Smaller companies should utilize services that track the keywords of competitors and learn how to create a search engine optimized site. Just a few changes can make a big difference in how many site visitors you attract.
Small and big businesses have many similarities. Some elements of web development are simply a matter of scaling up for a larger audience. Smaller companies have to get creative to afford better security, marketing and SEO tactics.
Embrace what is unique and follow good practices for what is common. Over time, your operation will grow to the point where you can invest in better software or hire someone to help with the tasks on your to-do list.