In this modern age, it often seems like everyone and every business has a website. You can hardly go two feet without seeing a URL for something. But looks can be deceiving. While it's true that most larger businesses have a website, web presence is something their small business counterparts are lagging behind in. A recent study found that nearly half of small businesses in the U.S. don't have a website.

The B2B research firm Clutch did a survey of over 350 small business owners and managers and found that many were lacking what many would consider to be a staple of modern business. The professionals surveyed by Clutch came from companies around the U.S. that had fewer than 10 employees and generated less than $1 million in annual revenue. From this group of respondents, four out of nine (46 percent) reported not having a website.

Many of these B2B business owners and managers felt that a website wasn't relevant to their company. In fact, about 12 percent of the people surveyed thought they would have no need for a website in the near future. This may turn out to be a costly error. As was discussed in a previous article, data suggests that online services will dramatically change the landscape of B2B marketing in just a few years.

"It's still surprising that so many businesses don't have a website. This ignores the fact that most Americans are on the web, looking them up," says Rehan Fernando, CEO at EIGHT25MEDIA in a statement about the research. "Studies have shown that over 70-80% of people will research a company on the web before making a purchase decision, usually by visiting its website. Even having a one page website can establish credibility. It shows that the business is actually real and has taken the time to put out a presentation."

The fact that a surprisingly large number of small businesses don't have websites has different implications depending on what side of the fence you're on. For business owners who are already online, this is arguably a good thing. This research shows there's still time to press the advantage they get from being online before their competitors.

As the quote above explained, there are a lot of benefits from having a website, such as improved brand awareness, increased brand visibility and faster customer service. Since we're still at a point where half of small businesses have this feature and the other half doesn't, being online can be a defining factor for consumers searching for service provider.

For the businesses that don't have websites, this research can be both a comfort and a warning. While it's definitely preferable to have a website, there are a lot of businesses that have managed to succeed in the modern era without one.

So while it's unlikely that not having a website will kill your small business in the next 24 hours, it's clear that small businesses without websites are a shrinking minority. It is estimated that the number of small businesses without websites will shrink to 27 percent in just a couple of years.

More importantly, not having a site puts small businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting new customers, providing more efficient service and responding to consumer needs. Small business owners will finding it increasingly harder to make an impact and to prevent market share erosion without some sort of online presence and internet marketing strategy.

The best news for small business owners who have waited to get a website is that it's cheaper than ever to get a high-quality website built for your organization. And with so many benefits to owning a website, the money spent is a more enduring investment with a greater return.

For more information on the benefits of owning a website, read this article with some more data on how websites helps small business owners.