Starting a business is risky. While taking risks can be exhilarating and motivational, the ability to consistently make wise business decisions is mandatory for beating startup odds. A third of all small businesses fail in their first year, and half fail within five years, according to Business Know-How.

However, there are some risks you must take to survive. At the top of that list is building an online presence. Lack of a Web presence is the single most deadly thing you can do to your business. Half of all small businesses do not have a website. Get one for your company and give yourself a shot at success. It's easier than it's ever been before to set up a website. By not acting on this marketing strategy, you're giving business away to your competitors who do.

Personal Referral from Google

Word-of-mouth or personal referrals are the strongest form of advertising, especially for a small business. Most people listen to recommendations from friends and family before listening to regular marketing channels such as television, billboards, or radio. Nowadays, search engines now act as a personal referral. According to Nielson ratings, 77 percent of people trust online recommendations above any other source. Customers still ask friends and family for recommendations, but then follow up on those recommendations by searching online to research the business.

In crawling and ranking your site, Google acts as a personal referral for potential clients. How can you ensure that your site is found? Quality content and basic information about your business are the first steps to make sure your site is being found by all of those people who are following recommendations from their friends and families.

Create an Online Presence

Your website doesn't need to be expensive, but it absolutely needs to exist. Anything is better than nothing when it comes to an online presence. Of course it only takes a little effort to make sure your site does its part to make the marketing work for you. High-quality content is one of the major factors that search engines use to rank websites. Basic information about your business such as name, address, phone number, and an introductory "About Us" for the company is imperative for online success. So don't wait any longer--get online and get your information out there so people can find you! Remember that your presence is directly correlated to your success in your first few years a business and beyond.

Hire a Marketing Team

Small business owners can plan a product strategy; they know their products and services inside and out and they can assess the trends in their market and analyze accordingly. They are the experts on their business. But they may not be expert in online marketing, which is a completely different (though related) set of skills.

An online marketing expert will use his expertise to make sure you are getting all the business you can from every marketing tool at your disposal. Having a marketing expert on your team is ideal, but if you cannot afford the expense of having an in-house marketing department or expert, consider outsourcing to a marketing firm. Just as you wouldn't want to learn how to fix your delivery trucks or be able to ship all your own products, learning how to market online is something you should leave to the experts. This will allow you the time and energy needed to service and grow your business.

In short, the most valuable marketing tool you have is your online presence. Be sure to manage it well and your business has a much higher chance of surviving far, far beyond the first five years.