Hosting your company online could mean a few things to different people. The purpose of this post is to help guide new startups through hosting email, web presence and some other related tools.
About 20 years ago this was a more costly endeavor. There were fewer players and each component cost more. It has been highly commoditized and DNS Hosting is usually free these days.
This will not go into the technical details of doing it. If there is a need for that I am happy to expand on this article. This article simply describes the route to you can take.
Leading By Example
An example I will provide is setting up my wife’s business Pretty Hare Salon. She had a need for online presence, email and online booking for appointments.
Registrar and DNS Hosting
Once she filed her proper paperwork to register her business we were off to searching for a domain name and settled on prettyharesalon.com. Registering with Google Registrar services was easy and it was a mere $12/year for this domain including DNS services.
Some people get confused by the difference between the two. Registrar Services involves reserving the name and pointing to the DNS Hosting provider which in this case is also Google.
A neat feature of Google DNS is that you can do HTTP(S) forwarding. For her business she does not need a published web site as social media suffices for this for the time being. We opted to use HTTPS forwarding for www.prettyharesalon.com and redirect it to her Facebook page. This is a free service Google provides and quite helpful.
For email, we opted for a personal gmail account to save cost. Google Domains also allows forwarding email from her prettyharesalon.com to her personal account. We have a few addresses that we forward for. Her clients aren’t concerned that the correspondence comes from @prettyharesalon.com as they all know her. With that said, publishing the @prettyharesalon.com email addresses on social media helps greatly to those just finding her business.
If the email forwarding doesn’t work for your business, G Suite (Google’s Platform) offers flexible email hosting starting at roughly $6/month/account. I use that here at Woohoo Services for mine.
Web Site Hosting
If you do need to host a web site, Google Cloud does have hosting offerings including WordPress and a few others. See my article on how I set this up for this blog if you’re interested. I highly recommend putting CloudFlare or something similar in front of it though. Web sites get scanned and attacked on a daily basis, unbeknownst to the owner. This can damage your reputation.
Wix is another popular web hosting platform that is fairly easy to use.
Square is a great platform for startups that need to accept credit cards but cannot commit to monthly fees. It offers a fairly flat percentage structure on card swipes/dips that are predictable. It also offers free add-ons like the appointment module for businesses that require/prefer appointments and have a set list of services to offer.
It goes without saying that social media is a most. It can be a free source of marketing and a great way to keep in touch with your clients. Do not limit yourself to just one though. Get on as many as you believe are relevant to your business. If you have a brick and mortar store, register that business with the major search engines, add your business hours to it, etc. You’d be surprised at how many people exclusively use Yelp or Google. Different people use different social media and its best to try to capture it all.