Start Small, Grow Big: The smartest strategy for your first business website


If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve realized that your business needs a web presence. And maybe also that the mere thought of creating a website feels like standing at the foot of a mountain.

It seems huge, daunting, and you’re not quite sure how to start climbing. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to scale the mountain alone, or in one go. In fact, starting small can be the smartest move you make.

Why Start Small?

In case you’re thinking, “I don’t want to look small. I want a website that’s as big and impressive as possible!” This is a good time to talk about our client, X – a real person. Sadly, though, no longer a client. >_<

X was a talented artist who wanted a website and online store to showcase their art and make it easy for customers to commission work. So, we designed a comprehensive website, complete with an online store. Additionally, X hired a professional copywriter we recommended, who did a stellar job reaching (SEO FTW) and resonating with X’s ideal clients.

The website was a success by all measures. Traffic and sales increased. But the cost of the redesign was well above the recommended 10% of revenue limit that small businesses should spend on marketing. X was happy with the website in the beginning, but had unrealistic expectations about how much it would increase revenue.

If we had known about X’s revenue at the time they hired us, we would have proposed starting with something much smaller. But revenue isn’t something we’d normally ask about. It’s pretty personal. We found out after an angry outburst, two years after the fact. Long after we’d done the work and X had paid us for it. Thankfully the site is still looking and working great for them, but still…

I know now how big a chunk of change that was for X. It required months of work for me. I can’t undo that.

The lesson here? A bigger website isn’t always better. Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s important to create a website that fits your current needs and budget. You can always expand and improve it as your business grows.

Also note: Small does not mean low quality. In fact, when you’re dealing with fewer elements, it’s easier to make a site look like a million bucks.

The Power of a One-Page Website

One great way to start small is with a one-page website. Instead of multiple pages, a one-page website has different sections that visitors can scroll through. It’s simple, user-friendly, and perfect for small businesses.

Some one-page website offerings – semi-custom AFV One sites, for example – combine professional design, quality hosting and regular care, and can optionally include copywriting. All-on-one packages like this lighten the load on business owners, cutting overwhelm while keeping sites in top form.

A one-page website can include everything your ideal customers need to know: how doing business with you can benefit them, who you are, and how to contact you. It’s a compact, efficient way to establish your online presence. And the best part? It’s much more affordable than a larger, multi-page website.

Even Smaller: Just Your Links

A links page is a great first step in setting up a more-robust web presence. Bonus: It’s an eco-friendly alternative to printed business cards. Here’s mine. It’s pretty basic 🙂

Even before your website is built, a links page offers the simplicity of a single link you can share with people who want to get in touch with you. It can offer multiple ways to connect, including social media or e-mail, and link to things like e-mail list signup, courses or marketplace shops like Etsy. If it’s built right, it’s mobile-friendly and easy to share when you’re out at networking events.

Links pages were first popularized by Linktree and other link-in-bio services, as a way to get around the single link limitation of platforms like Instagram. While an account with one of these services can serve as a bare-bones point of contact, know that there are some downsides.

They can dilute your brand identity, because you can’t precisely control the look and feel of your links page. They create dependence on a third-party platform. That may not be a big deal today, but platforms come and go – and change their terms – all the time. They won’t help you come up in search engines. And, your link may be hard to remember, making it a pain to share on the fly.

That’s why we recommend setting your links page up within your website. If you don’t have a website yet, your links page can be set up and working for you while your site is being created. We create them free for AFV One clients – just ask.

Your Expertise + Our Expertise = A Winning Website

The best websites are a collaboration between you and your web designer. You’re an expert in your business. They’re experts in web design. When we combine our expertise with our clients’, we create a website that truly serves their business.

Know this: You shouldn’t try to figure out everything on your own before you talk to a pro. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

We will guide you through the process, recommend the best solutions for your needs, and help you avoid common pitfalls. And don’t worry, involving us in the process won’t cost you more. In fact, it can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

Got serious time or budget constraints? Tell us. We will never knowingly sell you on more than what works for you. And not just because it always means more work for us. We genuinely care about the long-term best interests of everyone we work with, as every professional should.

The Hidden Benefits of a Professional Touch

The internet is littered with recommendations to DIY your website, served up with an unhealthy dose of “It’s easy!” Yes, there are plenty of DIY website builders out there. But here’s the thing: building a website is about more than just putting together a pretty design. It’s about creating a site that’s easy to use, optimized for search engines, and designed to convert visitors into customers. And that’s where professional expertise comes in.

When you work with a professional web designer, you’re not just paying for a website. You’re paying for their knowledge and experience. They can guide you through the process, help you avoid common mistakes, and ensure that your website is set up for success.

The only time you should DIY is when you’ve just started your business and your marketing budget for the entire year is less than $1,000. Do Squarespace, not WordPress. If that scares you, and you’re tempted to hire someone cheap – don’t. You won’t get professional results, and you’ll be out at least a few hundred you could have spent on your future website.

Growing With Your Business

The beauty of starting small is that it allows your website to grow with your business. As your business expands and evolves, so can your website. You can add new sections, create new pages, and incorporate new features. Your website can be a living, growing part of your business, rather than a static entity.

Growing your website doesn’t have to mean a lot more money or a lengthy production timeline. Once you have a good, solid web presence established, it’s simpler to expand your website without starting over or breaking the bank. Want to start a blog and help prospective customers (and web traffic) even more? Add forms for client intake? Sell art or services? Let people schedule appointments? It’s all doable.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you know you need a website but feel overwhelmed at the prospect, don’t worry. You’re not alone. And you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We’re here to help.

Whether you’re ready to get started or just have some questions, get in touch and tell us about your business. We’re always here to help you navigate the world of web design and make the best decisions for your business.

Remember: Starting small doesn’t mean thinking small. It’s about making smart, strategic decisions that set your business up for success. We’d love to be a part of your success story.