Starting your own business is stressful enough without worrying about IT stuff. Unless you’re starting an IT Business in which case you should probably be okay! For non-IT people though, getting the business online can be confusing, stressful or quite possibly, completely alien.
Getting the Business Online: The Basics
There are a few considerations when going online but to keep this article less than a thousand words, I’ll simplify it to three components:
- Registering a Domain name
- Setting up your Email
- Setting up your website
Registering your Domain
Your domain name is the name that identifies you online. It’s the part of the email address that comes after the @ or the bit after the www. in a web address. It identifies you, and services you offer, on the internet.
Having your own domain name gives you credibility. It helps you look professional and reliable. There is no reason you couldn’t just use MyBusiness@gmail.com as your primary email address and there are still free websites that will host a generic site for you, like GoDaddy who can offer you something like www.YourBusiness.godaddysites.com.
But these cheap options don’t look great and are limited in what you can do with them.
Registering your own domain “YourBusiness.com.au” gives you a lot more than street cred, or would that be Web cred? It gives you the ability to grow your online brand and be flexible as your business grows.
There are literally thousands of providers that will let you register your domain. Certain types of domains have very specific rules about what you need to qualify such as “.com.au” requires you to have an ABN or ACN.
Different vendors will offer different prices and often try to tack on extras and add-ons to either entice you or justify why they charge more than a competitor.
Just the volume of choice is enough to be daunting.
Setting up your Email
So, you’ve passed the first hurdle and you’ve got your domain registered. What’s next?
While the free email from Google or Yahoo, or even your ISP provider might sound like a good idea (it’s not, check out our previous article Don’t Use Your ISP Email Address for Business) a better alternative is to use your Microsoft 365 subscription or host your own mail server.
For simplicity, I’ll assume you already have Microsoft 365 Subscription because pretty much everyone still uses Office these days.
All Microsoft 365 Business subscriptions come with a 50GB mailbox and the ability to use your own domain name for your email addresses. It’s a simple thing for an IT Guru to set up – it takes us less than an hour – but for a non-IT person you need to know about updating DNS entries, setting MX records, verifying domains – and the instructions you get when you sign up for a domain or Microsoft 365 kind of assume you know what you are doing.
As I mentioned, a friend recently asked me to help them get started and they were completely bamboozled by the process. After trying to explain the myriad of options I eventually went with “Trust me, I’ll do it for you” and let them worry about other stuff.
And obviously we can do this for you. It’s just one of the services we offer.
Setting up your Website
We’re not done yet though. You’ve got a nice professional email address but how about the World Wide Web? That’s actually what the “www” stands for, if you were wondering. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone refer to the internet as the World Wide Web.
If you want to leverage your domain name to set up a web site for your company or brand, you are going to need two more things – possibly three.
- Somewhere to host the website
- Someone to manage the website and
- (Optionally) Someone to design the website
While paying someone to design a website is optional, the do-it-yourself services like Wix and GoDaddy typically only offer limited features for free. One you’ve signed up for the basic package they start adding fees for extra features. If you’re comfortable with this, go for it but be aware it may make it difficult to move you site or expand it in the future.
So where do you host it? One of the many add-ons when you register a domain is the ability to have your website hosted by the same company. This is convenient from the point of view that you only have to deal with one bill and one “control panel” to manage your domain name and website.
It does add a little complexity to choosing where you register your domain though because website hosting fees and included service vary wildly.
You can choose to register your domain with one company and host your website somewhere else. The benefits of this are that you are not locked in to either provider but you have to manage them separately.
Finally, having got all that done, you need to maintain your website. Will you be posting new content on a regular basis? Are you trying to build your SEO ranking to make it easier for people to find you online? Are you making regular backups? Are you keeping the software that runs your site up to date?
If all that sounds like to much work, talk to your IT Partner and let them help you so you can focus on what’s important to you.