The answer to when you should build a website is simple. Now.
You’re going to want to have your website up far in advance of opening your doors. You can use your website to generate interest in your grand opening which will put you at a strong advantage when you do open your doors for business. Also, when you open your doors, you’re going to be focused on a lot of things that go into running a new business. Anything you can prepare ahead of time is helpful so that you can focus your attention on the most important areas of running your new business.
Before You Open
Before you open your business, you should have a solid website and branding in place. This is going to help you promote who you are and give you credibility in the eyes of the people you want to be doing business with. You’re going to want to have a professional email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), a logo, and a website up. You can direct people to these assets to build interest and promote an opening, or a launch of a new service.
You’ll most likely want to start looking around for a designer to link up with. They’ll be able to walk you through your brand design, web design, and perhaps print design (business cards, letterhead, package design, etc). You could try to do these things on your own (We have a guide for how to build a website on your own if you want to give it a shot – The No Bull$#*! Guide to Building a Website on Your Own), but it will probably show through in your work, and customers might not take you as seriously.
Depending on the designer, the process to design a brand and a website could take anywhere from two weeks to two or three months. You’ll want to ask your designer what their timeline looks like. If you want to launch two months before you open and your designer is going to need two months to create everything for you, you’ll want to start at least four months before you plan to open your doors for business.
2-3 Months before Open
Your website and branding should definitely be wrapped up a couple months before opening. This will leave you plenty of time to network, gearing up for the open. You can make connections, show you’re legitimate, and start generating that interest and on-boarding new clients and customers. Your branding and website will be crucial components in how people perceive your business. How well your brand is aligned with your audience and how well your website outlines and describes what you do will help shape the opinion of how credible your customers think you are.
When your business opens, you’ll primarily be focused on making sales and delivering the product or service. Your time will be spent getting deals in place and delivering on those deals. Your time will be very precious, and you’ll probably not want to spare a lot of time working on creative like your brand and website, because you’ll be focused on running your business and dealing with day-to-day demands of operations. If you wait until you open to start work on your website or branding, you’ll really be stacking up everything you need to be focused on. Even if you can handle it all at once, the quality of the outcome of your website and branding will probably suffer from your divided attention. It’s better to get on it and have it all set ahead of time than to wait until your attention is spread thin running a new business.
But I’m Already Busy! I have tons of orders! Do I still need to build a website?
It’s always better to be generating more interest in your services and be over-capacity than it is to have less. Besides, you can always scale up by hiring new employees, or re-structuring how you make and deliver your service to meet demands. You may be missing out on more growth opportunity by not having an online presence or proper branding. Just remember, at any time you can throttle back how much you’re taking on. Think about it this way:
You can’t make the phone ring when you want it to, but you can always take the phone off the hook.
Having more interest than you can handle is always better than not having enough interest. Stay ahead of it and you’ll keep growing as fast as you like!