Now that your business is ready to get online, the first steps are actually similar to those when you started your business offline. This table outlines a comparison:
|OFFLINE||OFFLINE RESOURCES||STEPS||ONLINE||ONLINE RESOURCES|
|Company Name||Trademark Office, Friends and Family||Domain Name||Verisign, Domain Name Registrars|
|Business Licence, Trade Licences||State or Local Gov’t Offices, Trade Groups||Register Domain Name||Domain Name Registrars|
|Secure, rent or build office/store/workshop||Property Company||Website, Social Network Page||Web hosting companies, social networks|
Domain Name Experience
To register one or more domain names, there are two key steps: 1. coming up with ideas for the name, then 2. researching if that name is available (not already registered).
- Naming: Using your company name is always a good idea; if you are a localised business you may want to add the name of your town or city to the name. Many marketers suggest registering more than one name so that your business can be found via multiple searches. The most popular and reliable domain name extensions are .com and .net so that is always a good place to start.
- Research: Work with your registrar or search on the Web to explore if your domain name ideas are available. You can type in your idea and the registrar should tell you if it is already registered or not. If not, the registrar may suggest similar names that might work.
Domain Name Registrars
Registrars are companies that help find, manage and then send the necessary domain name information to a global registry. There are many registrar companies with whom to work. Think about which services you will need and choose a company that will best meet your goals for price, options and support. Most registrars also provide Web hosting, Website creation and design, e-mail tools and other services.
Once you have a domain name, you need a space for that domain name to live on the Web. You will require Web hosting on a server to manage the traffic that comes to your site. A Web hosting provider (often the same as your registrar) offers a range of services that help you build a Website, manage e-mail and even promote your site.
A TLD refers to a top-level domain which you see most often as an extension after the business name as .com, .net or .org. There are more options for TLDs coming on the market with choices such as .tv, .jobs and even customised names. Today, most people in the world use .com and .net as their TLD. Since .com and .net are the most recognised choices for people searching the Web it is good to have your name registered with those TLDs.
You have probably heard of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – these are a collection of social networks that allow you to create a business “page” or “profile” to which you can add content including images and video. Social networks are great places to interact with customers and promote events, sales, discounts, etc. While social networks are good marketing tools, it is important to maintain the control and professionalism of your own website as well. Our small business survey found that 90 per cent of consumers prefer a business to have a website over a social media page or online directory listing.