In our connected world not having a website could place your business at a serious disadvantage. According to Business NZ more than half of New Zealand’s small businesses still do not have one.

Among surveyed companies only 41 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises have a business website. The numbers are even worse for social network participation — less than a quarter have a social media presence.

But this situation could already be changing. According to Business NZ chief Phil O’Reilly if small businesses have plans to remain competitive they should seek to establish a website.

“Increasingly, businesses do need them and not just any old website either, but a pretty professional effort (…) If you don’t have a website and if you’re not investing in it sufficiently then I think you’re missing out competitively”.

Adam Ferguson, the spokesman for MYOB, noted that a common problem for small businesses was scarcity of time. Companies with lack of relevant experience were also afraid of the unknown.

“They really don’t know enough about web development to really start the planning process,” Ferguson said.

The attitude is different in different industries and certain sectors are falling behind others. 80 per cent of manufacturers and wholesalers have a website, but only a third of trade and construction firms have one. With primary sector firms it’s even worse. Just a quarter of them have an online presence.

Ferguson states that companies with websites are more connected to their customers. Such firms experience growth in leads and an improvement in the company’s image.

Meanwhile, Andy Blackburn, New Zealand Innovation Council director, motivates small-business owners to grow their business and work on their customer service, including online. “I think they’re caught in a paradigm of seeing their business as a local business,” said Blackburn. “I think it’s fear of the unknown and perhaps a comfort with how things work right now.”