Do you own or run a small to medium sized business?
If so you will probably want to make some use of the Internet. At the simplest level you will probably want to add email to your existing methods of communicating with customers and suppliers.
But then again you could go way beyond that and either enhance or completely replace almost every aspect of the way you currently do things!
Well begun is half done ...
This is as true of doing business on the web as much as anything else. And the first thing you need to take care of is your Internet identity. Get this right and you are well on your way to making the web work for you. Get this wrong, and you will severely handicap your efforts and no amount of throwing money at the problem will put it right!
Build your business on your domain name
In the regular world your identity is built on your business name. On the internet it is founded on your domain name. But there the parallel ends.
- There may be good reasons for your domain name to be quite different to your business name
- There may be good reasons to have more than one domain name
The good news is that an Internet identity is extremely cheap and easy to obtain. Furthermore it's really not difficult (or expensive) to put your shiny, new domain name to good use. It's true that there are some technical issues, but for the most part we believe it's about 90% plain, old common sense!
Four mistakes to avoid when starting out
- Not owning your own domain name. Although you can get an email address for free (such as a Hotmail, Yahoo, or Google address) it's false economy. It's also a mistake to use the email address (or web space address) that may be bundled in with your Internet connection.
- Not using your own domain name. Some folks get so far as to purchase their own Internet identity (domain name) - but still end up using something else. The most common case is when sending emails. It should be your domain that your customers see in the reply address - not that of your ISP!
- Choosing an inappropriate domain. There are a number of different "types" of domain name to choose from, yet many people seem to think the only one to have is a "dot com". In fact, unless your customers are located world-wide, the classic dot com name can hinder the development of your Internet presence!
- Using your domain name badly. Your domain name has to be properly hosted. That goes without saying and these days that shouldn't be a problem. And yet it's still common to see people fooled into using a thing called "web forwarding" in place of regular hosting. Sometimes this is to save money (a few dollars!), but it could happen "behind the scenes" without you realizing it. Web forwarding? Just say "no"!
Once you have acquired your Internet identity, the first thing to do is to get email working properly. You will want to make sure that
- You can send as well as receive email using your domain name
- You are protected against spam and viruses - but not so protected that legitimate email from "good guys" gets blocked!
- You're up to speed with the correct etiquette for communicating by email