How Can Small Business "Bootstrap" Their Online Presence

Introduction

Getting started online can be a daunting process for small businesses especially if they are not tech savvy. I will attempt to breakdown the essentials and show you how it can be done at a fraction of the cost.

Domain Name

The first thing you need when you get started online is a professional presence. No one takes emails seriously when they're received from @gmail.com or @outlook.com

A professional presence always starts with registering a domain name.

A domain name is your business' online identity and address. It is required to host the business website and to create professional email addresses.

There is no way around this cost as it is the main asset around which you will create your professional online presence. You can start with registering a domain name for a duration as little as one year.

Bear in mind you cannot modify your domain name selection once it is registered, so take your time in selecting one that matches your business name or brand.

Website (Web Hosting)

The simplest way to setup a website is to use a website (content) manager like WordPress. However, to do that you will need to signup with a web hosting service.

Signing up with a web hosting service lets you host your business website and create email addresses with your domain name.

There are many types of web hosting services but I recommend starting with Shared Hosting where everything is setup for you and managed by the web hosting company.

Look for a long-term free plan so that you can take your time in getting to know how everything works before you start paying for the service and get invested. If the free plan is good enough you can even consider staying on it till you really need to upgrade to a paid plan.

If you have registered your domain name with a different service, the first thing you should do is to host your domain with your website hosting account / control panel.

To do this you should go to the Domain Manager section and choose the option to Host a Domain. You will also need to change name server (NS) records at the service where you registered the domain name. If you need assistance with this, just contact the web hosting service's Tech Support to guide you.

I recommended WordPress as a website manager as it is the simplest to use. You can also extend it's capabilities by adding free/paid plugins.

To build a website using WordPress you will need technical help just to setup WordPress correctly, and set a theme (look) for your business website.

For this you can hire a web developer who will get this done in a few minutes for a very low fee. You will need to tell them what you need on the website: logo creation (if required), custom theme (if required), number of users who will need logins to manage WordPress, attached blog section, attached online store, etc.

Once setup correctly, you can use WordPress admin user section to manage the content for your website by yourself.

Email Address

Setting up email addresses requires two things:

  1. Creating the inbox in your web hosting account and

  2. Setting it up on your PC/Mobile

You can create email addresses in your web hosting account / control panel under the Email Manager. Simply add the email account/inbox and set a password and it will be ready to use in a couple of minutes.

You can then configure the email address/inbox for use in the email app on your PC or smart phone. If you need assistance you can contact the web hosting service's Tech Support for this, but this should also be easily manageable at your end through help from a friend or family member.

If you need more email addresses, you can keep creating more inboxes since you don't have to worry about a per user per month fee that standalone business email hosting services charge.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you can easily setup an online presence for your business for the cost of a buffet meal and a setup like this will easily suffice your website and email communication needs as your business grows for the next 3-5 years. Several small businesses have already benefited from buying a domain name and managing their presence and email communications through shared hosting. Some are still using these services and keeping their costs low 8-9 years later!

Recommended Resources

  • Click here for low-cost domain name registrations.

  • Click here for forever-free web hosting with email address creation. This can be upgraded in future without shifting your website and emails.

  • Click here for a forever-free service that helps you use online payment gateways on any website, email, mobile texts, social media posts, etc.

Disclaimer: The above recommendations are from my own long-term usage experience. Kindly take the above text as guidance and conduct your own due diligence before you start using any web services.