When it comes to making a good first impression on potential lenders and investors, a strong website will get you further than a firm handshake. Whether you’re seeking a loan from a bank or organizing a crowdfunding campaign on a platform like Kickstarter, building a professional-looking website is one of the key steps to securing outside financing for your small business.
“Without a professional website, not only will businesses miss out on important opportunities to connect and engage with potential funders, they will ultimately not even be taken seriously,” says Richard Portelance, chief innovation officer at Keiler, an ad agency based in Farmington, Connecticut.
Here are four ways in which an outstanding web presence can boost your chances of getting the financial help you’re after.
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1. It tells your company’s story
A website is an excellent medium for educating an audience about your business. Before extending you a loan, banks and investors will want a better sense of why you decided to start a business and how it has developed. Highlighting your backstory could trigger initial interest in your company.
In addition to creating an “About Us” page, consider including a regularly updated blog. Doing so gives potential investors and customers an in-depth look at your company’s history and recent developments.
2. It demonstrates your expertise
“A website with good, informative content shows the investor that the founding team has subject matter expertise, which is often critical to investment decisions,” says Jeremy S. Office, principal of Maclendon Wealth Management, a financial service company based in Delray Beach, Florida.
Potential investors want assurance that your company will be profitable. Establishing yourself as an authority in your industry — either by featuring success stories about past clients or blog posts about pertinent topics in your industry — will help mitigate investors’ concerns.
“Most early stage investment decisions are made because the investor believes in the founder’s abilities, and setting the right impression out of the gate can go a long way,” Office adds.
3. It’s a strong marketing platform
A website is a great marketing tool for your company; it gets your brand name on the map for potential customers. Your site can serve as an online storefront to showcase your products, including new merchandise or deals you’re offering. To potential investors and lenders, this effort to attract more customers signals that you’re proactive about maximizing your profits.
4. It shows a willingness to improve
To run a successful business, you’ll want to know what’s been working and what could use tweaking — your customers are the best source for that information. By offering a “Comments” or “Review” section, or by providing your contact information, a website can act as a source of feedback from your target audience.
Giving customers a voice suggests that you’re willing to improve. It shows potential funders you have the digital tools and savvy necessary to build a strong customer base and, over time, a profitable business.
For more information about how to start and run a business, visit NerdWallet’s Small Business Guide. For free, personalized answers to questions about starting and financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.
Image via iStock.
Infographic by Sydney Buffman.