When you’re in the early stages of starting a small business, there are a lot of things to take care of, from securing finances to setting up shop. But one of the first and most important steps is to develop a Web presence. Doing so can help you start to get the name of your business out there long before your official opening day. Here are the first steps you’ll need to take to get your website up and running.
Decide On a Domain Name
The first thing you should do—perhaps even before you have your business completely up and running—is decide what you want your domain name to be. It should be as closely related to your actual business name as possible and should be easy for your customers to remember. Once you’ve decided on your desired domain name, do some research on a site like InterNIC’s Whois database to find out if it’s available. If someone has already claimed the .com version, consider alternatives like .net or .biz. If your chosen name is already taken, you might be able to negotiate with the domain owner to sell it to you—but if not, it’s best to head back to the drawing board.
Now that you’ve found the perfect domain name, it’s time to register it and claim it as your own. It’s a good idea to do this early so that no one comes along and snatches it out from under you while you’re still getting your business underway. The registration process can be completed using sites like GoDaddy or eNOM. You’ll probably have to pay a small fee—around $8 to $15 a year—but the small investment is more than worth it. Free registration and hosting sites do exist, but they often don’t provide the security resources a small business requires to protect company and customer information.
Find a Web Hosting Service
Once you’ve found and registered a domain name, it’s time to consider your Web hosting options. Your domain registrar isn’t necessarily the best option here; this is another area where it’s a good idea to conduct some research. Do a little digging; if a company is up-front about things like data storage and uptime, that’s usually a good sign that it’s a reputable organization worth considering. All servers will go down periodically, but you’ll increase your chances of having a functioning site almost all the time by choosing a quality Web hosting provider.
Set Up Email
Another item of consideration is where your e-mail should be set up. Free services like Gmail can be a good start, but at some point your business may demand more. Consider setting up e-mail through your Web hosting provider or perhaps using a program like Microsoft Outlook. If you happen to be a technologically savvy entrepreneur, you might even consider setting up and hosting your own email server.
These are the basic steps to setting up a website and getting a head start on creating a Web presence for your company. Doing so—and starting early—is crucial for the long-term success of your business, so consider completing these tasks a high priority in the process of becoming an entrepreneur.
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