Have you ever found yourself in a situation that feels straight out of a sitcom? That happened for me on February 18, 2012, the day I was physically escorted from the building where I had worked. Less than a week later, someone reached out to ask me to help with their website. My business started, but it would be several months and a comedic job search before I actually caught on. This is my business origin story and why websites are the first of our simple machines of business.
Listen to Season 1: Episode 1
What Are Simple Machines?
In physics, a simple machine is defined as a mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force, or to modify motion and force in order to perform work. The simple machines of science are the inclined plane, lever, wedge, wheel and axle, pulley, and screw. In my experience, there are devices in business that also have the capability to change the force applied to them. The first one is websites.
While I love websites, I didn’t love the first couple years of my business. Yes, I was able to help people create and update websites. Yes, I got to solve some fun problems and build my skills. But what my clients wanted me to do for them didn’t necessarily result in tangible business results.
Business owners don’t know what they need from their websites. And why would they? All the information out there talks about the how and what, not the why of having a website. You aren’t likely to run into the idea of the simple machine of websites.
The Purpose of Your Website
Websites are critical for communication and to attract customers to your business. But they can be so much more. The functionality of websites can extend to pretty much every facet of business: sales, operations, customer service, human resources (particularly recruiting), finance, and more.
When used properly, websites are business assets.
I love marketing and technology, and websites live right there in the intersection of these two passions (I also love ridiculous shoes, but that’s not relevant to this particular story).
My passion for websites started in 1999. I was hired as a marketing assistant out of college and quickly started helping with an unruly corporate website. Soon I found myself coding forms and building websites as a side hustle.
In retrospect, it’s not surprising that websites are a recurring theme in my professional life. Even though I got a marketing degree in college, I took a coding class. The only other non-computer science student there was my sister, an accounting major.
Your Website as an Asset
When it comes to your website, the big question is: How do you stop doing website work that doesn’t get results and start building your website as a business asset?
Let’s first agree what an asset is. An asset is a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation, or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit.
When we have assets, we invest in them and measure their performance. The first step to making your website an asset is to:
Define the job of your website.
After all, you wouldn’t hire someone without a job description. Why, then, would you launch a website without knowing what it’s for? You have to know why you have a website and the role it plays in your business.
Your website might start off as a receptionist, maybe an inside salesperson. But it also can be used for client support: helping onboard clients and answering questions. It might also be order processing and customer service.
When we can think of the functions of the website as not only simple machines but actual roles in the business, it gets easier to understand how to best use the capabilities.
Having these roles defined also makes investment and metrics easier. You don’t pay the receptionist the same amount of money as a salesperson. How much you should invest depends on the value your website will provide you. You also evaluate the receptionist’s performance in a different way than a sales team.
Then to answer the question of value: Knowing the role of your website allows you to easily put metrics in place to know if it is doing its job. And if not, you’ll get some clues as to where things are going wrong.
The Payoff of a Well-crafted Website
When you are clear about the role of your website, you can make it a business asset. It can provide value to your business now and into the future. And you will know how much to invest in it and how to measure its performance.
Websites are one of the simple machines of business because they are capable of helping to perform nearly every role in a business (no strategic planning yet!). They are a fundamental way to create magnification of the force in your business.
What purpose does your website serve in your business? What’s its job description? Hit me up on social and let me know!
Be sure to check back each week as we take business topics and examine them through the four simple machines of business so you can magnify the force of your business and joyfully amplify your impact on the world.
Next week, the origin story continues and I reveal how and why smart business became one of the pillars of our services and one of my simple machines of business.