Start-ups pip established SMEs to the website post, study finds

Start-ups are slightly more likely to have their own website than established small businesses, according to a new MYOB report, which shows 64% of Australian SMEs still don’t have their own online operation.


The March 2012 MYOB Business Monitor report shows the proportion of website owners has actually fallen – to 36%. This compares to 38% in October 2011 and 39% in March 2011.


However, the decline could be due to the increased use of social media for business, which rose from 25% in March 2011 to 25% in this report.


Nevertheless, MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says he’s surprised the proportion of SMEs with a website hasn’t risen, and the proportion of those using social media has increased only slightly.


Reed says a business with no online presence is “denying itself some serious firepower”.


Start-ups – defined as being less than two years old – are more likely to have their own website, but only slightly (38% compared to 36%), although sole traders are less likely (30%).


This is in spite of the fact that businesses with a website were more likely to see their revenue increase in the past 12 months (27% versus 17%).


Meanwhile, 42% of businesses with a website expect their revenue to increase in the next year, compared to 24% of those without.


Also, 16% of businesses with an online presence intend to expand the number of overseas markets they operate in, compared to just 5% of businesses without an online presence.


The report also offers some interesting insights into social media.


Of the businesses that said they use at least one form of social media for business purposes, 25% use Skype or VOIP to make free business phone calls over the internet.


Almost 20% network with business colleagues and/or clients on LinkedIn, while 18% connect with customers and fans via a business page on Facebook, YouTube or Google+.


Meanwhile, 12% share news and updates via a blog, but only 6% communicate via micro-blogging websites such as Twitter.


Interestingly, Victorian businesses are the biggest users of social media – 24% said they used it for business. Victorian businesses are also the most likely to have a website (39%).


They’re followed closely by NSW businesses – 38% have a website – but only 17% use social media for business – the lowest percentage among the five main states.


According to Reed, establishing an online presence should be a no-brainer.


“Our research shows that in doing so, they’re more likely to improve their business performance across customer acquisition [and] revenue,” Reed says.


“Being an effective online player is not about having a complicated website – it’s about enabling your business to be found.”


“Getting online is a key strategy for attracting new customers, building customer loyalty, creating new revenue streams and increasing your visibility, credibility and competitive edge.”


“Building an online presence is a business move that should be a strategic imperative for most operators.”


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