Turnkey websites sound like a great idea when you’re venturing out on your own.

Of all the steps involved in starting a business and the start-up cash required, turnkey websites seem like a no-brainer.

The term turnkey in this context refers to a business you can start immediately, by just “turning the key” and beginning.

Turnkey websites follow a similar concept. They’re websites you can take over from the previous owner, with the expectation all the gears are set up for smooth functioning.

While that sounds great on paper, these websites are ripe for trouble.

  • Turnkey websites don’t scale with your business model. They’re pre-made and don’t account for the intricacies of your vision.
  • The efficacy of your website isn’t rooted so much in the platform it’s built upon (e.g. WordPress). It’s rooted in where and from whom you buy it.
  • Professionally designed websites are a better investment.

Turnkey Websites Don’t Scale

I’m not talking about sales when referring to scale.

Why are you starting your own business? What’s your internal motivation to solve the problem your business idea addresses?

Answers to these questions can’t be secondary when starting a business.

These answers are the core determinant of your brand identity, the strategic message and tone that will resonate with your customers, your vision for business growth, and the beliefs your employees will carry out in the field.

Ultimately, this is what allows you to scale – this is what most influences sales growth.

The primary issue with buying a turnkey website – or business in general – is you’re buying someone else’s vision.

You’re buying someone else’s “why”, as we like to call it at NerdBrand.

The chances you’ll be able to authentically articulate someone else’s vision are slim. That’s why even the largest household brands have such difficulties maintaining the customer experience through a merger or acquisition.

If you’re going the turnkey route, you should have a plan for how to align the brand and business with your vision.

That being the case, what’s the point of buying something “turnkey” then?

It’s Not the Platform, It’s The Source

Maybe you’ve heard X platform is best for Y business, or a certain platform is easiest to manage.

Many platforms give you a website with demo content for a low price between $49 and $200 with the suggestion that if you can spend a few days tweaking things, you’ll be up and running.

That’s never true.

You’ll find yourself spending entire days tweaking the design and content, looking for plugins or apps to add features (most of which won’t function out of the box quite as well as you hoped), adjusting things that are broken…

Eventually, you realize your business is suffering, because you’re spending so much time on this website that was presented as an easy solution.

This is why professional services are always a better investment.

Turnkey websites sacrifice the individuality and uniqueness of your vision, which is what makes people loyal to your brand.

Getting a website tailored to your needs is always a better investment.

Yes, it will cost more upfront, but the return on investment of having a standardized brand identity and website that’s aligned with your unique philosophy will be huge.

coffee writing computer bloggingPhoto by Negative Space on Pexels.com

To me, it’s important to consider the opportunities lost by taking a turnkey or DIY option.

You’re giving up time that could be spent getting face-to-face with people who can grow your business, improving operational inefficiencies, and strategically planning your next move.

The more time you’re buried in tasks that should be delegated, the less your business can grow.

Story Time: How A Turnkey Website and Neglecting SEO Can Hurt

We knew a business that started a couple of years ago and took shortcuts on website design, as well as brand development. They relied almost solely on a brand name to build trust to gain the attention of a certain demographic.

Woman using Google on iPad.Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The problem is they never invested in establishing a legitimate, standardized brand identity or website that properly addressed content organization, SEO, and future marketing needs.

The website was put together quickly, and the owners thought no farther than the next quarter.

Website user experience, SEO, and marketing were not highly valued or considered.

Sales started to hit a glass ceiling and they refused to invest in addressing the brand or engaging in tactics like SEO to improve organic reach.

Instead, they relied purely on paid ads and tactics that they felt still worked; Google Analytics contradicted those feelings.

Then the pandemic hit…

As horrible as the economic challenges have been for businesses, those companies that invested in quality branding and a strong website presence have seen increases in sales.

But those that did not make these foundational moves saw over 60% of their business disappear. And they became 100% reliant on online sales channels they simply weren’t prepared for.

But it was too late. They missed the bus in most cases. It takes months to build a viable digital presence, and sometimes years to gain prominence in organic search rankings.

Too much reliance on turnkey solutions and band-aids on the brand plainly led to a lack of competitiveness when the market squeezed (which it always does eventually).

Turnkey Businesses and Websites Aren’t A Solution, They’re A Road Block

Turnkey websites, or solutions in general, make it easy to get going. You’ll have no trouble getting the car started.

That’s undeniable.

But you’ll be driving down the wrong highway entirely.

If you’re considering cutting corners with turnkey solutions, be aware of the likely outcomes so you can head them off. A considerable amount should be set aside after the first year or two for investment in branding and web development.

Once you’ve been through that process of establishing a legitimate foundation, marketing and advertising can do its job best within manageable costs.