Countless new websites are created every year - yet very few of the people responsible for them realise that they could be sitting on some truly lucrative business opportunities.
It's been said many times: there's a fortune to be made in business - if only you can spot the opportunity. Spotting it early is the key. That's why inventors stand a good chance of getting rich.
It's why pan-handlers in the California Gold Rush did all that rushing - and why many early Australian settlers risked life and limb prospecting in the Outback for their own share of a latter-day Eldorado.
Yes, folks... Even in the 21st century, gold is the lure; and finding it is the cure! Of course, many people have made their fortunes online. They spotted an opportunity and ran with it. Think Google, Apple, Facebook and dozens of others. But who has thought about the potential fortunes that are buried beneath their own (seemingly humble) website?
From Vision to Opportunity
The next time you're creating a new website - or re-vamping an existing one - why not take on board some of the points raised in this article. Behind all the talk about website copy and design, SEO and social media, take some time out to preface this activity with a little strategic business thinking.
For this is where the opportunities lie. (If only we could spare the time amid the headlong rush towards a neat website solution.) The fortunes of any business are inextricably linked with the ideas, perspectives and organisational structures its owners bring to the party.
A company's website is the outward and very visible expression of a unique business vision. Such is the obsessive focus on creating a website for its own sake - slavishly following received wisdom on what will generate sales - it all but obscures the business vision (the essentials, if you will) that will generate long-term profitability.
Strategy Always Comes First!
Don't allow yourself to be dragged along by the momentum of the various tasks involved in creating a website. By all means, retain that vision to create a world-class website. Before any of that, however, consider whether the major strands of your business fit together as well as they should.
This is where embarking on a new website journey can repay your business - whether or not the site itself will ultimately generate a penny in sales! This may come as a revelation to many entrepreneurs and company directors, but a few searching questions in the early days of planning a new website could yield massive long-term returns.
Consider These Aspects of Your Business...
An audit that precedes the creation of a website sitemap could have the effect that is equivalent to removing a corporate blindfold.
(For those who may be unfamiliar with the jargon of web development, a sitemap sets out in a pictorial, flow-chart format how a company's activities fit together and how they will be presented on a company's website.)
The thought processes and planning that lead up to establishing a sitemap and preparing a brief for the website copywriter and designer can unearth some basic truths about how a business hangs together.
Crucially, it can reveal some serious managerial shortcomings in how the company's resources are used. Are they being wasted, for instance? Or duplicated? Or under-utilised? The analytical process may also highlight how efficiently the business is organised in key operational areas such as finance, IT and HR.
Being forced to look in detail at how all these aspects of the business are to be included on the corporate website may lead a company and its directors to stumble inadvertently into a maze of dysfunctionality! That is to say: until this moment, no-one had really bothered to look at the company in sufficient detail - root and branch - to expose its inefficiencies.
There may have been hints, of course. The company's accounts would have reflected any structural problems in the bottom line. Any recent IT analyses would likewise have shown that there was room for improvement or investment in key business areas.
What the creation of a new website does is bring everything together; it involves taking a few steps back to evaluate what is really going on and how everything is working together. Simple, certainly; effective, more than likely.
To this extent, a sitemap may clarify what certain individuals within a company may already have suspected - that all is not as it should be. The process of gathering information for the website content will typically involve discussing key issues with the relevant personnel. This, again, has the potential to unearth any problems.
Rather than view this as a threat, it should be seen as an opportunity to put things right within the business. Armed with conclusive data about how the company is operating, it is possible to implement change.
Few people in the early stages of setting up a new website would see this as a window for change. Even fewer would foresee that these changes could transform the future success of the company and generate what could be an exponential growth in profitability.
About the author:
Mike Beeson is a highly experienced UK journalist, copywriter and PR consultant who writes extensively about copywriting and marketing issues. Mike's company, Buzzwords Limited, was established over 20 years ago and is located in Knutsford, Cheshire (south Manchester).