Creating your own website is vital to building a successful business from home

And for those who are launching their own company for the first time, it’s a good way to test the market and try out being self-employed without having to commit to business premises.

Not only are many budding entrepreneurs opting to work from home due to the current economic climate, they are also adopting a do-it-yourself approach to other aspects of their business, from building their own website to designing their stationery.

With website builder tools available on the market, it’s never been easier for sole traders to create an online presence themselves, but despite this, around 70 per cent don’t have a website.

“Their main fears are costs, time and technical knowledge, but it’s so important for them to have a website – it’s a must-have tool for any small business to establish awareness and a professional image,” says Laura Cajade, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Vistaprint.

“It enables businesses to provide information to customers, to help new clients find them, to look professional and to sell online, too. And creating a website is a lot simpler than they think.

“When looking for a website provider, sole traders want to make sure they get the right design and functionality for their business and industry, for a low cost. They also want a quick and easy purchase process for their website and to be able to be involved in the design and launch, all things we strive to provide at Vistaprint.”

One person who has launched a successful company – and website – from home is Susan May, who is a self-employed florist. After studying garden design from home in 2005, she fell in love with the world of horticulture and started training to be a florist while working part-time. She finally launched Susan Jane May Country Garden Floristry in 2009.

“Working from home isn’t easy, but I make it work,” says Susan, who has a purpose-built studio at the bottom of her garden.

“Being a mum to James, who is 11, I often find it’s a bit of a juggling act. I try to get all my floral creations done during the day while he’s at school, so I’m free to pick him up and we can have tea as a family. When he goes to bed, I’m in my office, handling orders, returning phone calls and replying to emails from suppliers. It can be lonely at times and you have to be your own motivator.”

Susan’s success has been a slow and steady journey. Not keen on the idea of a business loan, she has been determined to do as much of her business administration and marketing herself – starting with the build of her own website.

“I used Vistaprint for every aspect of starting my business from home and promoting it,” says Susan.

“The premium website package was so very important, as it enabled me to get the business off the ground for very little expense. With my work, I’m a perfectionist and very particular about colours and balance, but I found the online design tools were great for my needs.

“As my business has developed, it’s been easy to match other marketing materials to my website, such as business cards, banners, postcards, photobooks, compliment slips, pens, vehicle magnets, headed paper, stamps and address labels.

“My reputation stands on the quality of my work and that therefore takes priority during the day, so creating my own marketing materials from home gives me the opportunity to order, revise and create whatever business support tools I need when I have the time.”

If you are a sole trader without a website, it’s about time you established a presence online. Vistaprint’s website builder tool means you can create your own professional website quickly and easily. It’s free to try out, too, and a new cutting edge builder will be available in the UK from September 2013.

Set templates make sure your designs match across all chosen marketing materials to keep brand identity, and useful tricks and online tutorials can help first-time web builders put together a great site. You can also create a domain name, mobile website and use SEO tools, as well as manage email marketing and social networking streams from home.

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