It all starts with a name. Your awesome idea for a product or super service can fly from there. So let’s begin at the beginning with these 4 steps to starting a business online.
Step 1 – Select Your Business Name
What do you want to call your company, product or other offering? A piece of advice from the U.S. Small Business Administration:
“Not only should you pick a name that reflects your brand identity, but you also need to ensure it’s properly registered and protected for the long term.”
Once you have a name, you should search existing business registrations to make sure no one else is already using it. You can do this in any search engine like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, but we also recommend looking through your state’s registry. The IRS has compiled a list of key state government web sites that relate to business registration and management. Investing time and resources into starting a business online only makes sense if you are sure you won’t have to shut it down later or change the name.
Step 2, Part I – Search For a Domain Name
Your domain name may be the most important part of your business’s internet presence. The process of registering a domain name can seem daunting for those who have not done it before, but it is actually pretty simple.
Take your tentative business name and enter it into a domain name registration company’s search tool. The one at FYNE will warn you if anyone already owns the domain you want, and suggest alternatives you can consider. Be flexible; as of this writing, over 141,145,987 domain names have been registered. The majority of these domains are .com or .net. If you want one of these types of domains, try adding to, or removing words from, your desired domain name.
Nothing good? If you are looking for specific wording, check out a newer domain extension or top-level domain (TLD). Many TLDs exist that are specific to certain industries, such as .clothing, .technology, or .bar and they work the same way as traditional .com, .net and .org. Check out these more than 80 TLDs to choose from.
Step 2, Part II – Register the Domain Name
All domain registrars are required to provide a minimum level of service, such as registration and allowing management of the domain, as well as reminding you when your domain must be renewed and facilitating transfers to another registrar. However, the customer service you receive and friendliness of the management interface varies greatly. One easy way to get a feel for a prospective domain registration company is to browse its social media pages. See if there are posts that give you a good impression. Another thing to keep an eye out for are comments from existing customers or reviews.
Some domain name registrars provide features like a WHOIS privacy service to keep your registration information secret. Or email forwarding to redirect messages sent to your new domain to an existing email inbox.
Domain pricing varies depending on the TLD, any promotions the TLD operator may have available, and the registration company you use. For example, if you want to purchase a .expert address, it may cost more than .info. You can choose to register your domain from one to ten years.
Step 3 – Choose a Host for Your Website
There are many factors to consider when looking for a host. Price is the most frequent concern, but before you jump to that aspect, determine if you need a shared (also sometimes called virtual) or dedicated server. The cost of those two options is significantly different. Generally, if you are just starting a business online you will be fine with a shared server. Note: if the web hosting package does not specify the server type, it is shared.
Compare the web host’s pricing plans, which are normally charged monthly with discounts for prepaying annually. Review whether the host offers email boxes to use with your domain for a professional email address. If you intend on managing your web site yourself, look to see if they support WordPress, a popular content management system (CMS). Many hosts also sell do-it-yourself tools for building your website, which can be an important consideration for new website owners.
Finally, check to make sure the host has good reviews and appropriate social media posts.
Step 4 – Forward Visitors from Your Old Website or Notify Social Media Followers
If you have a current website with a less-than-desirable name or a domain name from a former business, you can forward it to your new website. This can help give your business a running start online. The service you want is called URL Forwarding or Domain Forwarding, and can usually be added to your domain registration for a small fee.
Social media fans love to support the people they follow. Kick off your launch with a boost of traffic, by notifying them of your new online business.
In Conclusion: Starting a Business Online
Starting your business online couldn’t be simpler with these comprehensive 4 steps. Wishing you a ton of success in your endeavor! Congratulations.