One of the most valuable skills for any digital entrepreneur is building a website. And, with today's tools and resources, it's relatively simple.
But knowing how to build a website doesn't mean you'll make money. You might be a blogger, an affiliate marketer, or someone who builds info-sites to monetize with ads.
Maybe you just enjoy building sites.
Either way, turning your skill into a profitable business takes time. But there is a way you can speed it up. While you're waiting for your own sites to generate traffic, you can build sites for others. Many small businesses and professionals would be happy to pay you to do it.
But how do you find businesses without websites? And, how many companies don't have a website anyway?
Should you even bother looking?
If you'd like to make money building websites, you definitely should. In this article, I will go over the data and share my own experience to show you how many potential clients there are. And of course, I'll give you a step-by-step guide on how to find them.
How Many Businesses Do Not Have a Website?
It seems strange to think some businesses still don't have a website, but you may be surprised. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 30 million small business owners in the United States.
A 2018 study done by B2B research firm clutch.co found that only 64% of small businesses have a website. A more recent survey from 2021 concluded that 71% of small businesses have a website, which makes sense considering the global lockdowns that started in 2020.
Still… Inbound marketing services provider, Blue Corona, estimates that number to be closer to 51%. However, they don't specify a source for that number. What they say is, “email, website, and social media are the top three marketing tools used by small businesses: 54% use email, 51% have a website, and 48% use social media”
So, while the numbers vary, according to those studies above, the percentage of businesses without a website is somewhere between 29% and 49%.
Based on my own research looking for businesses without websites, I'm not sure I trust either number. It seems to be about one in ten in my experience. But that might not be accurate either. I'm only looking at businesses that are already showing up on directories, and I might be overlooking entire industries or fields where having a website is rare.
Many wholesalers and B2B companies that don't deal with the public directly might find little value in having a website.
Another important sector of businesses without websites is new businesses. Based on 20+ years of data, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently reports more than 200,000 new businesses each quarter. That's roughly 2200 per day.
So there are a lot of businesses that need websites. Whether the number is 10% or 50%, out of 30+ million small businesses in the US alone, the number of companies without websites is in the millions.
Businesses That Need Their Website Updated
If you're selling a web design service or starting a digital marketing agency, the easier “sell” is usually an update rather than a first-time website build. This is because businesses that already have a website are more likely to know its value. But they might not have the time or ability to upgrade an outdated one.
For example, another statistic reported by Blue Corona is that 56% of businesses with a website say it has a responsive design, meaning it works on mobile.
In other words, 44% have a website that's out of date. Add those to the millions who don't have one at all, and you have many potential clients.
But how do you find all of these clients?
How To Find Businesses That Need a Website
The following methods are where you can find local businesses that need a website. These methods work equally well if you're looking for businesses globally.
Step 1 – Prepare a Spreadsheet
You can do this using pen and paper, but in my experience, it's a lot easier with a spreadsheet. You're going to be searching by industry, niche, or professional field, so open up Google Sheets or MS Excel and create a list of business types.
There are many ways you can do this. You might already have a targeted list of industries you're going after. If you don't, you can brainstorm or search for lists of business types online.
My favorite way is to get my hands on an old-fashioned Yellow Pages book and start flipping through it front to back, A – Z.
It's a little harder to use the Yellow Pages online, but it'll do. Go to yellowpages.com and use the alphabet soup method in the search field. Type the letter ‘a' and start your list with the drop-down quick results (shown in the image below). As you can see, starting with ‘a', you'll get suggestions such as attorneys, appliance repair, auto repair, antiques, and so on.
From there, you can type…
- ad, etc…
… and keep adding the quick results suggestions to your list.
Once you've gone through the a's, move on to the b's, and so on…
It can be a time-consuming and tedious process, but the bigger your list, the more businesses without websites you'll find.
How you set up your spreadsheet will be a personal preference. The way I do it is to start with my list and then add a new page (tab along the bottom) for each business category (on the list).
Each new page will be a new list of businesses I find without websites, including their contact details.
Finding outdated websites using this method (or any of the methods listed here) is also simple. Just click on the ones that do have a website. If it's out of date with an old non-responsive design, add it to your list (along with an additional spreadsheet column so you can sort businesses without websites from those with outdated sites).
Step 2 – Find Businesses Without Websites Using Facebook
Log into Facebook and go to the search field in the top left-hand corner. Type an industry or profession from your list along with where you live. For the following example, I'll use “landscaper in Denver, Colorado.”
Next, scroll down and choose “Pages.” This will give you a list of landscapers in Denver, Colorado (or, in your case, whatever you're searching for) who have a Facebook Page.
From there, it's just a matter of going through the list and hovering over the business name.
There are two examples below. In the first example, you'll see that All In One Home Services has a website.
In the second example (shown below), All In One Services Landscape LLC (a different business than All In One Home Services) does not have a website.
Add All In One Services Landscape LLC to your spreadsheet on the appropriate page, along with their contact details so you can reach out to them later.
Continue hovering over business names and recording businesses that don't have a website until you've exhausted the search results. If you're also looking for outdated sites, click the website icon for each business that has one.
Once done, move on to a new industry/profession and/or location.
This method is more than enough to compile a list with hundreds of potential leads. But it's not the only method.
Step 3 – Find Businesses Without Websites Using Google
In the following example, I'm searching for “martial arts studios in Seattle.”
Go to Google and type in your search. Then, underneath the search field (after you've searched), you'll see the options for:
All – Maps – Images – Shopping – Videos – More
This will give you a list of businesses in your area or the area you searched (in this case, martial arts studios in Seattle) along the left-hand side. As you can see in the screenshot below, some have websites, and some don't.
In this example, The System MMA does not have a website.
Continue searching for different business types and locations, adding each new lead to your list.
Step 4 – Find Businesses Without Websites Using Yellow Pages
This method is similar to using Google Maps. When you search for a type of business and location, you'll get a list of companies with contact information. Most will have a website, but those that don't are easy to identify. In the screenshot below, I searched for electricians in Las Vegas. Among the results, All Access Appliance Repair Service was the first I found that does not have a website listed.
Of course, if you use the Yellow Pages to create your list of business types, you can use this method first. The three described above are not in any particular order, and you may find that using just one is enough.
If you use all three methods, there's a good chance you'll have some duplicates. To get rid of them, you can sort your spreadsheet list alphabetically and delete the doubles.
Step 5 (Optional) – Pound the Pavement
Using the web is the easiest way to find businesses without websites, but not all businesses are on the web. To find companies without a web presence, you can do what we all used to do pre-internet. We hit the road and knocked on doors, metaphorically speaking.
Starting in the '90s, I spent about fifteen years in sales and management. New accounts were acquired by physically walking into dozens of businesses each day.
Therefore, when I started looking for businesses without websites, I did it the best way I knew how; in person.
I drove around the city, stopping at business parks and industrial areas, and looked up each business online. If they did not have a website, I stopped in and introduced myself. Having done this for years in other industries, it's what made the most sense to me.
Use Grape Leads to Find Businesses Without Websites
If your time is valuable, you can skip the manual searches with an automated tool called Grape Leads. This web service is completely dedicated to finding web design clients for freelancers and agencies.
Grape Leads allows you to search Google Maps for your keywords or niche and then download a CSV spreadsheet of all of the new and existing businesses that do not have websites.
There is no actual searching for individual businesses, saving you a tremendous amount of time. And you don't need to enter the information into a spreadsheet. Grape Leads does that for you.
Simply download the spreadsheet and use it to contact or advertise to your potential new web design clients. Additional information provided includes company reviews and contact information.
This is a paid service that uses credits to provide leads. Whether it's worth your cash depends on your free time and how many leads you need.
For instance, if your agency or operation can handle the volume, you can design a marketing funnel that starts with the leads from this service at the top and feeds into Facebook ads, direct mail, or an outbound call. With a cleverly designed funnel, this might be the secret sauce for scaling an agency to the point where clients are no longer the limiting factor.
Do Small Businesses Still Need a Website?
One of the questions you're going to get when you reach out to these businesses about building them a website is whether they need a website. And in some cases, they won't.
For example, I stopped at a machine shop whose client base was other local machine shops.
I learned that some specialty projects require expensive equipment and training, but because those projects are rare, most machine shops would hardly ever use that equipment.
So, instead of buying equipment that mostly collects dust, they contracted that work out. They gave it to a machine shop that used that equipment every day (for all of the other machine shops) and had trained machinists who knew how to use it.
This company had no competitors, and every one of their potential clients knew who they were and had been using them for decades. The owner did not see the benefits of spending money to build and maintain a website. I could have argued with him, but there was no point.
There are situations like that in almost any industry, and you'll run into businesses that legitimately don't need a website.
However, a website is essential for businesses that deal directly with the public.
Businesses With Websites Are More Credible
A study conducted by Verisign surveyed 787 internet consumers 456 US small businesses in the US about their web behaviors and preferences. 77% said that a website makes a company appear more credible.
86% also said they prefer a business with a website instead of a social media page.
Businesses With Websites Have Branded Email
Another benefit of having a website is a branded email ending with @businessname.com.
Of course, they don't need a website for this. Any business can purchase a domain name and use it for email only. If they're paying for a domain and hosting anyway, though, they might as well have a website. Even if it's just a simple website.
Businesses With Websites Can Showcase Their Products, Services, Brand, Staff, etc.
Social media pages and groups do not give businesses total control of how they present themselves. They can add some basic information and static images, but that doesn't come close to what they can do with their own website.
Their own site allows unlimited pages, design, and navigation. They can also use multi-media and provide visitors with downloads and offers. They can even make their site interactive with games, utilities, and tools such as calculators.
Businesses With Websites Show Up In Google Search
Depending on the business, getting a website to rank in the search results is not easy. But sites that do have tremendous potential to turn searchers into customers. The best part is that it's free and passive.
Without a site, this is impossible.
When you're selling the idea of a website to businesses, make sure they understand what keywords and search terms are. If you're approaching a hair salon (just as an example), explain the exposure and branding benefits of showing up in the search results for terms like “best hairstyles for weddings” or “easy to manage hair cuts for kids.”
Search traffic can rescue an unknown business from obscurity and turn it into a powerful brand and authority.
There are many other benefits to having a website. For example, businesses can add their contact information with embedded maps, sell and take orders directly, conduct customer surveys, set up mailing lists, and so on.
Of course, it's hard to say that a small business “needs” a website, but for the relatively small cost and simplicity, most will benefit tremendously from having one.
Which Businesses Need a Website The Most?
Many businesses obviously need a website, like an e-commerce business or a travel agency that books vacations online.
But these are not the kinds of businesses you will be approaching if you're selling web design services. Of course they “need” a website. But they don't need a new website, because they already have one.
Other industries where businesses most likely have a website are the health, hospitality, and education industries. If you can find a company in one of these industries without a website, you should certainly approach them. But finding those businesses could be a challenge.
The businesses that will benefit most from having a website and are also most likely to need one are:
Professionals like family doctors, dentists, chiropractors, psychologists, attorneys, accountants, business consultants, etc., can all benefit from having a website. And, because many are small businesses with few, if any, staff, there is a good chance they haven't had the time or resources to build one.
Like professionals, tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc., have small businesses that need a website. Many have probably thought about building one as well but just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Independent Hotels and Accommodation Providers
Of course, all major hotel chains will already have a website. However, as someone who used to travel to a lot of remote areas for work, I stayed at many independent hotels that, at the time, did not have one.
There are also accommodation providers like bed and breakfasts or small investors with a dozen or more rental properties. For example, these may be AirBNB rentals, and sending potential customers to a professional website that showcases their properties will set them apart in the market.
Again, like hotels, all chain restaurants have a website. They probably have online ordering capability as well.
However, many small local restaurants don't have a website, and they would likely get a lot more business if they did. I can't count how many times my wife and I have searched for a new restaurant to try but skip over the ones that don't have a website or online menu.
They may have a third-party menu on sites like SkipTheDishes, but other than that, they have no online presence. Without a site that shows off their food, dining room, current menu, etc., we've often decided on a more established restaurant instead.
We know we're probably missing out on great food and service, but it's a gamble we're usually not willing to take. When we're hungry or have company to feed, we tend to play it safe. We might not be getting the best pizza, souvlaki, or whatever, but at least we know what we're getting.
Of course, you can find helpful reviews for most restaurants, but a site showing a packed dining room and clean kitchen can go a long way.
Car Detailers, Car Audio Specialists, Window Tinting, Etc.
If there was ever a business that could benefit from a before and after gallery, it's an automotive detailing business. And many detailers start out of a home garage, with little time or resources to build their own website. So instead, they rely on social media.
Social media is a great way to connect with the community. Using social media to direct traffic to a professional-looking website is even better.
There are a lot of smaller shops that specialize in car audio, window tinting, Plastidip, vinyl wraps, etc. A website is an excellent way to list their services, show off their work, provide testimonials, and even run contests and specials.
Music, Martial Arts, and Dance Teachers
Music, martial arts, and dance teachers are another group of small business owners who often rely on social media but don't have their own websites.
The challenge for many of these business owners is that they don't have an expensive location. For example, music teachers may teach in their own homes or their student's home. Martial arts and dance teachers often utilize community centers, churches, etc.
A website gives them a “virtual storefront” of sorts and an identity. In addition, it gives them the appearance of being more established and professional.
Another group of business owners who utilize someone else's business space, are personal trainers. Most don't own their own gyms, so they can't bring clients into their own gyms. Instead, they meet clients at their homes or at someone else's gym.
Because they don't have a physical location, a website is a great way for them to brand themselves, showcase their credentials, and create a professional online persona. They can also include a gallery, videos, client testimonials, and so on.
The automotive repair industry has a credibility problem. Almost everyone has a story of being ripped off and overcharged or knows someone who has.
Also, not all automotive repair shops are on main streets with bright front offices and a coffee lounge for customers. Many are hidden in industrial parks with a single bay door and a stack of tires for a “front counter.”
A website can't polish a dirty shop, of course, but it can showcase other aspects of the business that customers might not see.
For example, most of my years in sales were in the auto parts industry, and automotive shops were the majority of my clients. One had a small shop that didn't look like much, but the bigger part of his business was importing exotic cars into Canada from other countries.
Another had a medium-sized dealership in town, but you'd never know from the small shop he repaired cars in that the business was much more significant.
Some automotive repair shops are now putting live camera feeds on their websites so customers can monitor the work being done on their vehicles. So, some automotive shops will benefit tremendously from having a website.
More examples of businesses that need a website (and most likely not to have one already) include general contractors, home inspectors, landscapers, drywallers, painters, inflatable rentals, dog walkers, and anyone with a side hustle.