Not everybody needs a personal web site, but every small business does. The Internet is where you find companies, do research, and compare prices—even for stuff you don't typically associate with the Web. When I needed a roofing contractor recently, I solicited five proposals, but finally picked one of two companies with a Web presence. I certainly couldn't get a quote that way, but I got reassurance that I was dealing with a real company, an outfit that had a license and insurance.
For most small businesses, setting up a Web site has been exasperating and somewhat expensive. They've needed to find and hire a Web designer (something like picking a roofer) and pay regular fees for maintenance and hosting. That's what Dan Brown, a former colleague who is now a marketing and communications consultant, did eight years ago. But he found that his site drew few leads, and he chafed at paying recurring fees to keep the site running. He pulled the plug at the end of 2002.