By Stefano Maruzzi, VP of EMEA, GoDaddy

We live in a digital world. In this digital world, customers expect a business to have a website, and they expect that website to be easily accessible by and compatible with mobile devices. They want to be able to quickly and simply determine what services are being offered, read reviews from other customers and find the business’ location. For even the smallest of small businesses, having a digital identity ensures that consumers see you as credible and accessible.

If a small business wishes to progress – especially in a world that is increasingly driven by small, market-savvy start-ups – then it must have a digital profile. In short, not having a digital presence puts the future of a business at risk. And while building a presence may seem daunting, small businesses have a multitude of services at their disposal that can quickly drive the process at a fraction of the cost of 5 years ago. What’s more, building a website is now easier than ever, with intuitive tools that take you step-by-step through building an elegant website, eliminating the need for coding knowledge.

What are the advantages of being online? The obvious answers lies in how consumers behave today. With billions of people around the world now online to exchange social interactions and search for answers to a wide range of needs, having a digital presence drastically increases consumer accessibility to your business anytime, anywhere. With a website, you can be open 24/7 and sell to customers in the UK while opening up previously difficult-to-access markets around the world. According to official sources, e-commerce in the UK accounted for close to £39 billion in 2013 and is forecasted to reach £44 billion this year. With mobile shopping volumes growing even more rapidly, a smooth e-commerce experience is truly a must for a modern British business.

Every digital presence needs a domain, but how should your business go about choosing one? An innovative approach many small businesses can now consider is to register an address in one of the new “generic top-level domains” (gTLDs) that are relevant to their respective sectors. For example, .PHOTOGRAPHY and .CLUB, or even region-specific domains such as .LONDON and .UK can bring out the personality and expertise of a business. With almost 300 alternatives right now – and that number set to double in the next 12 months – securing a domain name that truly reflects the purpose and the mission of your business has never been easier.

The Internet continues to transform the way the world is doing business. By creating a strong online presence that truly resonates with what customers want, businesses are positioning themselves to shore up their existing customer base while potentially opening themselves up to a much broader global audience. By creating an easily navigable website, showing their personality through the use of a new gTLD and developing quality content to share, small businesses can carve out a strong digital identity and position their company for success in the digital economy.