Do you need everything or just a few of these or none?
All major companies and organisations have a relevant domain name, a domain-specific email addresses and a website.
think apple.com / facebook.com / google.com etc.
But not all small businesses need all of these.
You only really need a domain name if:
- You don’t want anyone else to own it
- You might want it one day
- You want domain-specific email addresses
- You want a website using your domain name
Everyone needs an email address.
You just need to decide if you are happy with firstname.lastname@example.org (e.g. email@example.com) or maybe firstname.lastname@example.org (e.g. email@example.com) as your primary business email address. It’s not perfect, the former is acceptable if you are a small business, the latter seems like a bad idea.
Imagine this phone conversation…
You: Can I have your email address so that I can send you the important legal documents?
Them: Yes, sure, you can email me the files.
You: What’s your email address?
I would always set up a new business email address (always using Gmail (for multiple reasons)) and use my personal email address separately. It makes things much simpler.
It would be better to buy a domain name like yourcompanyname.com (e.g. flymedia.co.uk) use firstname.lastname@example.org (e.g. email@example.com) or firstname.lastname@example.org (e.g. email@example.com). This looks more professional. It is scalable if and when you get staff. But there is a cost.
In the beginning, I wanted flymedia.com because, in those days, it was all about .com, there was a boom! Unfortunately, flymedia.com was registered and being used by an American design company. So, me being based in the UK, and seeing that the BBC were happy to use bbc.co.uk, I decided that if it’s OK for the Beeb, then it’s OK for me. flymedia.co.uk was acceptable.
These days, there are virtually no good short .com domain names left. .co.uk is perfectly good and is often seen as interchangeable with .com, they have a similar standing. A good .com domain name can cost thousands to buy or nowadays, even rent. Why do you think we constantly see companies with silly made-up names, silly spellings, missing letters? it’s because they can get the domain name… cheap.
In 2013(ish), the first raft of about 1200 new domain suffixes appeared. These can be useful if yourcompanyname.com or yourcompanyname.co.uk are taken. But be aware, people are not used to them, yourcompanyname.xyz, is not ideal.
Hyphens in your domain name
Stay away from hyphens in domain names. Just try saying your domain name out loud as if you were talking to someone on the phone. You will soon see the hyphen becoming a problem.
Imagine this phone conversation…
Client: What’s your web address
Me: fly-media.co.uk with a hyphen between the two words
Me: double you double you double you dot fly (EFF ELL WHY) hyphen media dot co dot you kay.
Client: Which one is the hyphen? Is it the slash?
Me: No, it’s on the top row of the keyboard, next to the Zero.
Client: I can only see the I or the P next to the O.
Me: Not the upper case o, the zero, the number zero
Client: Oh, I don’t have numbers on my keyboard, I have a tablet
Shorter is Better
I have a client northwealdflyinggroup.co.uk. This is a very long domain name. So we decided to register the shorter nwfg.co.uk. It’s easier to say to someone, email addresses are shorter. Think about firstname.lastname@example.org vs email@example.com on your business card.
Unfortunate Domain Names
Normally this is something you don’t need to consider, but it’s a good idea to bear it in mind. How does your domain name look? Not your company name, but your domain name. The company Pen Island (probably not a real company) owns penisland.net. I think you can see the problem.
It doesn’t have to be your business name
B&Q don’t own B&Q.com, because there are no ampersands in domain names.
B&Q do own bandq.com. This is as near to their business name as you can get. But again, it’s a faff, confusing to have to always spell out the word ‘and’.
B&Q do own diy.com, it solves the ‘and/&’ problem. It is what they do (sell stuff for DIY) and it’s easy to say.
If things are getting desperate, then a domain hack can be the answer. A domain hack is where you use an existing TLD (the .com bit) as part of your web address. For example bir.ds or examp.le using the fictitious country-code domains .ds and .le, suggest the words birds and example respectively.
To a degree, I have done this. My business is called flymedia. I own flymedia.co.uk but when the .media suffix appeared, I decided to try and register fly.media. The main reason I did this is that I didn’t want another company called flymedia to buy it and there to be confusion between them and my company. There are many companies called flymedia, just take a look at the list.
It all depends on your business type, but you don’t ‘need’ a website.
If you sell stuff, you may find that Instagram and Facebook are enough for you, or Shopify is an easy ‘build it yourself’ solution if you want to sell online.
Some people just sell on eBay and Amazon and don’t have a website.
If you don’t have a lot of information, you may only need a basic Google Business Listing. you should always have a Google Business Listing.
But if you do have information to share, products or services to showcase, contact details to list etc, then a proper website can be the perfect vehicle for a small business.
At its minimum, a website can be a professional online business card. An easy way for customers (new and old) to easily get your basic information. A holding page with your logo and contact details may be all you need.
A simple website may only cost a few hundred pounds for me to build for you. It can become more and more complex as your business grows and all of these additions can be added as needed. I could always build you a basic WordPress website and then you can add the content yourself. Whatever you need, I can help a small business with all of their needs.
It seems like a nice idea to have a website, but you may not actually need one.