For golfing entrepreneur Brad Neil, his website is his business.
His company Valet My Clubs organises the shipping of customers’ golf clubs interstate and overseas so they can have a casual game no matter where they are in the world.
“We had no choice [to go website first] – the website is our only asset. It does everything from generating quotes to generating courier labels,” Neil says.
The business has only just launched and started taking customer orders, but Neil says he’s invested more than $30,000 in the business website so far, which is the main outlay to get the company up and running.
Valet My Clubs will also have a social media presence and work on search engine optimisation in future, but Neil says the company couldn’t have launched without its own homepage working smoothly first.
The startup is not alone in its focus on a website-first approach.
According to Yellow’s Digital Report 2018, 72 per cent of the more than 1,000 Australian small and medium businesses surveyed now have their own websites — the highest number since Yellow started the survey in 1994.
The growth is happening as third-party sites and social media become a less attractive way of getting a business noticed.
When the survey was done last year, 80 per cent of businesses without their own websites were using third-party business listing sites or social media instead.
This time round, just 53 per cent of businesses were using a third party channels as an alternative.
Meanwhile, across all businesses surveyed, the reliance on social media advertising, online advertising and search engine optimisation all dropped compared with 12 months ago.
Forty-five per cent of businesses said they were using online ads or search engine optimisation last year. This year, 29 per cent were using online ads and 23 per cent SEO techniques.
Neil says his business is one of many that are emerging where it’s ‘website as a business’, meaning customers come straight through as a one-stop shop.
All they need to do to use the business is go directly to the site, which can start processing their requests for golf club pickups without staff even being at the desk, he says.
“From our experience, we loved the idea of a business that could run independently of itself and having a website that could generate orders itself,” he says.