In our technology-driven world, gone are the days when a bricks-and-mortar storefront and an ad in the yellow pages was sufficient to sustain your business. Today, it makes no more sense to open a new business without a website than it would to have one with an unlisted phone number. You should think of your website as an “online store front” that represents your products and your brand.

So the answer is, you definitely need an online presence if you want to:

1. Save thousands of dollars on direct marketing

The old way to market your product or service included direct mail, radio, newspaper and TV advertising, billboards, and a display ad in the phone book. This was effective when these were the only means of communication available. Costly, but effective. Today, an estimated 89% of people use the Internet as their primary source of information, and they are available to you for the price of a website.

2. Be seen as a credible merchant

Given the ease of setting up and maintaining a website, merchants these days are often not seen as 100% legitimate if they lack this basic marketing tool. Keep in mind that it must look professional to help you achieve credibility.

3. Make it easy for customers/clients to find you

Given our high-tech culture, if you lack a website the only other ways for people to find you are through the yellow pages or by word of mouth. Of course, you could use newspaper inserts (just 23% of readers say they read print newspapers), or the other traditional means mentioned above, but again, it’s a scattershot approach and expensive compared with setting up a website.

And of course, it’s not just having a website. Once you have one, you can be found in Internet searches with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can generate leads and zero in on those potential customers who are truly interested in what you have to offer. You can get feedback from current and potential customers.

4. Create a distinctive brand for your product or service

What is it that sets your product or service apart from that of your competition? You can show that on your website! As the saying has it, a picture is worth a thousand words, and you can have many pictures—a whole gallery, in fact—that demonstrate your unique features at a glance. You can showcase a before-and-after remodel you did or illustrate fun ways your product can be used. Even if you don’t sell online, if you have, say, a traditional brick-and-mortar store only, you can still display an array of the products you have for sale to entice foot traffic into your place of business.

5. Be responsive to people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

The reason the Internet is so popular is the accessibility it provides worldwide. No matter how many hours you put into your business, you have to sleep sometime. Your website doesn’t. It can take orders, provide answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your product or service, receive emails, give directions to your place of business, and obtain feedback.

Having a website offers you the opportunity to increase your sales potential exponentially. Not having one is like trying to fly with one wing. Today, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to those companies that do.