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Why building your website is like raising your child

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i know what you may be thinking.  “How can building your website compare to raising a child?”  If you’re a parent you can likely understand that parallel.  If you have a website you know that building it is not a one time task, it’s an ongoing effort through the lifecycle of your business.  If you are focused on growing your business you also know that your website should also see exponential growth in effort to support your business goals.

My friend Taylor Aldridge actually mentioned this phrase and I know I had to write a blog about it.  So many businesses are still stuck in this misunderstanding that your website is a touch and go, or a one-time set and forget task.  It’s not.  I don’t have to prove this to you because your competition and successful business all over the world are living this and experiencing exponential growth.

No matter what stage your business is at you can begin this effort by looking at your annual marketing costs and determine a plan that would include incremental website improvements and building your online visibility.  I’d imagine there will be a blog coming down the line that will contain some tactical steps to achieve this but for now let’s keep moving.

The idea that business growth is also related to your website is similar to an idea I heard a couple years back regarding how we need to treat our businesses.  Gary Vaynerchuck shared a video on how you need to treat your business as your second child.

If your business is like your second child, and if our business growth has a part in creating our website to grow we can see how that metaphor makes sense to raising children.

The early years

When children are very young they need a lot of attention and support from their parents.  The formative nurturing and training is essential for growth on a physical and mental level.  If you’re a parent this is somewhat instinctive and expected as having a child adjusts your life greatly.

It’s not instinctive to parallel or have the same expectation to nurture and grow your website. It’s reasonable to know your child needs constant care and training, but we have to build that expectation and practice to apply similar care to grow our business with our website. The good news is that websites don’t have diapers to change!

As a parent begins looking forward in anticipation for their child to arrive they naturally think about how their child will turn out.  We have high hopes for them to be greater than us and achieve awesome things.  How do you apply that type of thinking toward our website?  Should my website bring in 70% of my customers?  Maybe 40%?  How in the world do we even come up with a reasonable goal that’s achievable?

Coming to that realization is partially dependent on your industry, customer base, and marketing budget.  The good news is that you can modify that plan as you grow and move ahead.  You just have to start somewhere!  So don’t be afraid of you don’t have it all figured out.  Don’t let fear or the unknown hold you back from growing an amazing business.  Think of how your website will help to grow your business as you’re planning your goals.

Raising your website

For the most part small businesses have websites that act like a brochure. This type of website will adequately serve to give customers the information they need to know about your business.  The challenge is when to think about how to determine how to grow the website to engage with customers and automate business processes.  Similar to how your child grows from being so physically dependent on you, the child eventually grows to be able to contribute to your household.  As silly as it may sound your website can and should contribute to your business growth in many ways. 

I have three children and it’s a great place to be in life as I can ask any of them to take out the trash or wash the dishes.  When I think about my website I am constantly thinking of ways it can automate our sales process and help customers easily schedule time with us to determine how we can help them build an amazing website.  See that?  My website is going to work and contributing to my business!

No matter what stage your business is at you can see challenges you have and there are likely some solutions that can be provided through growing your website capabilities and automating busy-work and mundane processes.  Let’s look at a customer we recently worked with.  They are a multi-location retail company with over 25 locations and over 100 employees.  We delivered an intranet website solution that allows the leadership to automate employee training and create a community that invests in their employees and in turn empowers them to provide excellent customer service.

This customer of ours had always used a marketing website to tell about their stores, but behind the scenes they had some challenges that we were able to help them solve by building a website application solution and in turn increased employee retention and grew customer loyalty with excellent customer service.  What an amazing example of a company growing their website and by effect using the website to grow their business!

Taking your website to school

Seeing the parallel about raising children and growing our business through our website can be reasonable. As we focus on the progression of our children physically we also look to grow their mind.  Education is an important focus of child development.  How could you make that parallel for your website?  Think about your website copy and ongoing content marketing to provide value for customers.  This is an excellent way to provide ongoing leads by educating customers. You need to continue to educate customers through writing content that is relevant to their needs and educates them.

The benefits will include building your audience and increasing your reach into search results as people will have an easier time discovering your website as they search for things your content provides. This again can relate to the ongoing growth of a child as they become more mature and resourceful both physically and mentally they can make a meaningful impact on society even at an early age!

Children truly have an advantage to see the world more unfiltered than we do as adults.  Educating and empowering them to grow mentally is essential to allow them to mature and be equipped to be a responsible contributor to society.  Try to think of your website in a similar fashion.  Your website will need to mature to better suit the needs of your business and your customers as you find better ways to not only educate customers but provide better solutions to help run your business processes (as we mentioned beforehand).

Onward to maturity

The idea is the same for both children and business.  There’s a need for growth and maturity.  You’ve likely already created and nurtured your children as they require.  You might’ve even been consistent to do the same for your website.  We’ve touched on how to bring our children through those formative years of being physically reliant on us as parents on into being self sufficient to contribute in their households.  Is your business ready to depend on your website and allow it to contribute to your business?

It’s perfectly okay to recognize that your website might not be in the position to help your business do all it should do.  It’s very important to see the vision of your website needing the care and nurturing to be the engine that can grow your business.  You just need to follow a holistic approach to stay consistent to build it.

At the end of the day itt seems silly to think of a website like we would think of a child, but it’s a reasonable metaphor. A website can be seen as an integral part to our business’s growth. This can even be more important to your business than a child can be for a household in the physical sense.  Amazing!

Are you ready to see that vision?  Do you know what things your website should be doing?  It’s okay to not know the difference.  I build websites for a living and we’re continuing to learn more through our own experiences here at Mode Effect.  We are practicing what we preach and we can provide the value through the trial and error or our experiences.  If you have questions we’re only an e-mail or phone call away.

Go forward and grow!

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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