3 simple steps to launch your business online

Discover how to name your start-up, secure an email account and build your website to get your company up and running in no time…

OK then. Are you ready? Let’s talk about websites. Let’s talk about domain names and the cloud and code and social media. Let’s talk about THE INTERNET and your business.

[Insert dramatic music here].

Am I making you nervous? Does the phrase “cloud-based computing” make you a little anxious? How about phrases like “meta-tags” and “image resolution?” If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you love the web. Who doesn’t? We love the web like we love our doctors. They’re great to have around. They make our lives a little easier to live. And, don’t you have to go to school for years and years to learn all of that complicated stuff?

You can do it

Not to worry. Getting your business online is a lot easier than you think. No scalpel, no white jacket, no bedside manner required.

Follow these three steps and you’ll have something to brag about in no time.

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Step 1: Name your baby

This might be the hardest step for any business. Some of you already have a name ready to go. Your business is something you’ve been dreaming about for 20 years and you know exactly what you’re going to call it. Most of us, though, we stress about business names like we stress about naming our children. What if it’s too playful? What if it’s not playful enough? Do I need to say exactly what I do in the name? What will it look like on a bumper sticker? What will it look like on a sign? What if my friends make fun of me? Is the domain name already taken? What then? Am I going to end up with a name 25 characters long?

Ugh. That’s a lot to think about. And honestly, it’s worth wrestling over. The right name inspires you to keep going and it can make it easier for customers to remember who you are.

Here’s the good news: you have to worry A LOT less about domain names. The Internet is changing. It used to be that you had a select group of domain name endings that mattered to choose from. Endings like .com or .org or .co.uk. All domain names are unique; once someone buys a domain, it’s taken. You have to think up something else or try and buy the domain name, at a premium price, from the person who owns it now. For these popular domain name extensions, a lot of the good names are already taken.

Well, now you have options. A lot of options. Throughout this year, more than 700 new domain name endings are entering the market. Names like .guru and .club, .photography and .lawyer. And, here are a couple I love – .nyc and .uk. This means there’s a good chance that no matter what you name your business, you’ll be able to find a great domain name to match it.

Want to see a list of all the names on the horizon? Check out the new domain extensions page over at GoDaddy.

Step 2: Get an email address

I know what you’re thinking: “I already have an email address.” Yeah, I do, too. Most of us got one 15 years ago and we use it for everything. I totally get it. But once you have a domain name for your business, you want an email address for your business. You’re going to put it on everything: your business cards, your social media profiles, the side of your car. You get the gist. You want a branded email address.

It’s professional. It’s exciting. And, shawn@brilliantbiz.uk is so much better than daydreambeliever272@hotmail.com.

My big recommendation here? Make sure you get an email account that can grow with you. Right now you just need something to get you started, but eventually you might want to manage calendars, share files, and add more addresses. Check out something like Microsoft® Office 365 from GoDaddy.

Step 3: Build your website

I’m saving the scariest step for last. It’s time to build your website. You’ve got a lot of different options, but let’s keep it as simple as we can. You can do one of three things: use a simple website builder, brush up on your coding skills, or have someone do it for you.

Me? I’m about speed. I think it’s better to get something up and running as quickly as possible. You don’t have time to talk to your niece about building a website. You don’t have time to pick up a book about HTML5 and CSS3. Right now you need to get something live so you can print your website address on your business cards and start taking phone calls. You need something you can put together in a couple of days.

There are a number of simple website builders out there. Google® it. Type in “simple website builder” to see what your options are. Here’s what you want to look for:

  • Inexpensive
  • Reliable
  • Beautiful templates
  • Social integration
  • Easy to customise

And, just in case something goes wrong, you’ll want someone to talk to 24/7. That’s important. This isn’t difficult, but it’s nice to have backup.

Check out GoDaddy’s website builder. You can get a three-page website up and running in a couple of hours. That gives you plenty of time to update your business cards and prep your brilliant Facebook® posts.

After you’re live, you can think about moving to WordPress® or hiring your niece. You’re just getting started, after all.

Now, tell your mom

You’re live! You have a three-page website out there for the world to see. Congratulations! Now what? Spread the word. Brag a little, post about it on Facebook. Send an email to friends and family and ask for their feedback. All of the marketing for your website starts with those two basic principles: find relevant groups you can share your website/message with and engage with others about what you do. Time to have a (digital) conversation.

See? No brain surgery here. Stick with these first three steps and you’ll be up and running before you know it.

Shawn’s been working in communications for more than 20 years. Fifteen years ago, he built his first website at a public library. Despite the miserable Internet connection, he was hooked and has been helping others get online ever since. Shawn’s passionate about teaching and is convinced that a good story is the best way to do it.

At GoDaddy, he’s led multiple creative teams and been a loud, positive voice for customer service and entrepreneurs. He currently runs the editorial department where he gets to put his creative writing degree to good use.

Twitter: @pfunder
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShawnPfunder

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