How to take your Business Online!
‘How to take your Business Online / Setting up the Online presence of your Business’ is a crucial step in the entrepreneurial process.
It is a Crucial Step because everything in the world has gone on the internet or online.
Your business should be appropriately represented on the internet because your business will struggle without a proper online-based setup.
This is why I will go a bit slow and explain to you all the small yet essential steps to the process of setting up your business’s online presence.
I will also dive deep into some basics concepts of setting up an online presence for a business and will need your attention.
Let’s get rolling!
Table of Contents
The 3 Important Steps to Setup an "Online Presence"
Gone are the days when you could just have a business with an offline presence.
The widespread of the internet has made the word “online presence” indispensable for every Business.
It’s as simple as saying that you should be on the internet if you have a business.
From a layman’s perspective – being on the internet means three simple things:
- Own a website
- Have a rocking social media presence
- Get Email ids linked to your Business’s domain name (note – a domain name is the web address that you type on the web)
Once you have completed the above 3 points, your Business is “online ready.”
How do you do that?
Let us dive in a bit deeper into each of the above three points
Step 1 - Own a Website
Your website has three parts:
- Domain name or name of your business on the internet
- Web hosting space where your website will stay
- A Website that is managed using a CMS (Content Management System)
If you are new to the world of internet, do not fret over words like domain name, hosting, or CMS – I will explain them all in this step.
Now coming to getting a proper website, all three listed above must have a suitable website up and running for your business.
Getting Started - How to get a domain name?
A domain name is your Business’s name on the Internet.
Think of it as your Business getting christened or ‘Naam Karan (in India).’
The day you buy a domain name is the day your Business has a name on the Internet – From today onward, thou shalt be called as ‘XYZ.com’ on the Internet 🙂
How do you get a domain name?
I have always relied on two companies to offer the service and they are the companies I am going to recommend for web hosting too.
Well! To start with – they are easy to use and have an impressive support division to handhold you (in case of Internet)
and they are affordable.
Let’s start with Go Daddy (the oldest living member of the domain seller clan 😉
Let’s get started!
We will start with –
- Go to your web browser and type in godaddy.com
You will see the following page with Dhoni or some other brand ambassador smiling at you.
Do not ignore their smile because you, my friend, will get your Business a name on the Internet.
It is an occasion that requires a smile 😀
Now before I get lost in my bad jokes, let’s quickly dash to register our account on GoDaddy.
- Find the option to sign up: The option to create an account is on the top right of the menu bar (highlighted in the image below).
As soon as you move your mouse over the option, the following options open up. Again – they are all highlighted in the image above.
- Time for you to Sign up as a ‘new customer’ by filling in this form:
- Let’s search the domain :
Once you are registered, time to get rolling with the domain search.
Click on the highlighted area in the image below to ‘Enter your preferred domain name.’
- What to search?
I do not know your Business’s name but as an example – let’s just say I want to launch a test version of my website and will search for ‘Lessons at startup test.’
Since I am looking for a target audience in India – I can live with ‘.in’ extension at the end.
As you can notice, the domain name is available and all I need to do now is pay INR 149 to go daddy to get my Business’s name on the Internet.
Before you move to the payment stage, I have a few ‘words of wisdom’ to help you with the domain name search.
Here comes the ‘Wisdom’ in its wise form –
Before you assume that your Business’s name would be available on the Internet, here is a bummer – Names are a rare commodity these days.
There is a good possibility; you will not get your Business’s exact name with a .com extension.
For example, if your business name is XYZ (P) Ltd., you might want a domain name xyz.com. The probability of finding a domain name like this is next to nill.
To give you an example – I searched for iamwise.com .
Don’t give me that look – I know what you are thinking about this self-obsessed IT guy killing you with words like ‘wise’ ‘wisdom’ ‘witty’ and ‘whatnot.’
Before you utter the golden words, WTF! (again starting with – W), I got to stop the ‘W’ joke and get back to the tutorial :D.
So, I searched for a highly unlikely to be available ‘domain name,’ and as expected, it was not available.
Instead, I was offered the service of ‘an expert’ to buy the domain name.
Stay away from the ‘expert broker.’
You, my friend, are not here to lose money.
On the contrary, you find a domain name to get your business online and make some money.
Here is want you to do – I want you to scroll a bit down so that the smiling broker disappears and you have your ‘other affordable options’ to select from.
I know you are feeling disheartened about not getting your favourite name on the Internet.
The first time I searched for a domain name – I was disappointed.
They did not have my domain name.
My first thought was ‘If we can have a million Davids, ravis and jasmeets living in the real world. Why the f**k does the Internet not allow websites to have duplicate names’.
That’s life, Mate.
Suck it up and move on.
To brighten your life with some light and take away the gloominess because of your disappointment of not finding the ‘right domain name,’ I will teach you the tips to find a suitable domain name.
Take it with a spoon of sugar as they say in Hindi- kuch meetha ho jaye!
I want you to try the following tips when you are looking for a domain name:
- Look for a localized domain name (country specific) with extensions like – .co.in (India), .com.au Australia), .co.uk (UK) – the localized extensions help your website rank better in Google’s country search engine.
- Find domain names that are short and easy to spell. For example, if your Business’s name is Altruist IT Solutions Private Limited. Do not look for AltruistitSolutionsPrivateLimited.com!
If I were your customer, I would give up halfway typing your domain name 😊.
Look for short names like:
- com | AltruistIT.COM | AltusitITSolutions.com
- co.in | AltruistIT.co.in| AltusitITSolutions.co.in (if you are based out of India)
- Avoid hyphens in between. I mean, it is absurd to explain to someone that your domain name is Altruist-IT.com.
You do not need a domain name that is harder to pronounce.
So give “-“a break.
By the way, do not wait until eternity to finalize a domain name – you get it, you finalize it (that is my motto).
Wait-2…I am not done.
There are two more lines of wisdom left for you to digest.
After you search for a domain name, the GoDaddy’s interface gives you a plethora of options likes:
- Other domain name options matching the domain name you searched (an option you are also presented when you cannot find the right domain name)
- Option to book for more than one year (I usually do it for two years)
I recommend that you book a domain name for atleast 5 years as it is always safe to have your business name with you.
I even book domain names for my future ventures or my plans. It does not cost a bomb to buy a domain name, so go for it.
- Time to checkout
Time to finalize the domain sale and move on to the next step.
Click on the continue to cart button.
And there you go, Mate!
You are now a proud owner of your Business’s name on the Internet.
In case you have just been busy learning the tricks and have not bought a domain name yet – let’s get started now!
The other domain name provider – SiteGround
I had promised to introduce you to another domain buying service.
I got to live up to the promise. So here we are – Siteground’s domain name service.
You (i imagine) do not need hand-holding now.
Head to SiteGround and search for a domain
Alright! We are done now.
Take a small break and then move to the next step. ‘Let’s give your domain name a place to live: Hosting space.’
By the way – I am going to open the bubbly and celebrate your first win.
You just bought or are on the verge of buying a name for our business on the Internet.
Time to give your domain name a place to live - 'Website Hosting'
When buying a hosting space, you need to figure out the technology on which you want your website to be based.
Obviously, that means – you should have a technology decided for your website before you start shopping for hosting space.
Some of us go in the order:
- Buy a domain name
- Build a website using a CMS
- Host the website
The above order is cool when you have a developer who is hosting your test website.
Still, for guys like you and me (the general internet population), we will take a hosting space first because we will build our own website without any developer’s help and give our business an independent ‘internet’ life.
I recommend that you use WordPress as the technology and CMS for your website as wordpress (hands down) is the simplest and the most sophisticated content management system available on the internet.
Note – a content management system is a platform that allows non-technical users like me and you to easily manage their own website—thereby reducing our dependency on developers. I will talk about wordpress and its utility in the next section – how to set up your website.
However, if you are still in a rush and want some tutorials to get started with WordPress, I designed a course on Udemy to help you get started on WordPress…
Coming back to the topic at hand – Where do you Host the website?
The hosting service I recommend for hosting WordPress or any other CMS-based website is Siteground.
I know it’s a crowded space when it comes to selecting a hosting provider for WordPress.
Yet, I recommend Siteground because of their understanding of WordPress and other Content Management Systems (I have used them for WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Moodle, and they have always been equally good).
They have optimized their servers to work with every single CMS in the market (mainly WordPress).
Add to the above their superior service, around-the-clock customer support.
And last but not least, they are affordable.
Getting started with SiteGround:
Before I start – for the sake of ease, you can buy your domain name and hosting both from Siteground.
(note – I personally use GoDaddy for domains and Siteground for web hosting, but one reason for this is my laziness to shift from GoDaddy. I have been with GoDaddy for 12+ years, and it pains me to use another service for domain names. In your case, you can buy both the services from either of the companies)
To start with SiteGround (at their affordable plans).
Click on the link – Get Started with Siteground.
You will be directed to a page that looks like the page below (the page might change from location to location):
As highlighted in the image, click on the WordPress hosting option, and you will be directed to this page:
I would recommend that you select Grow Big for your business. It is a bargain service at $ 9.99 / month. Not only do you get to host unlimited websites, but you also get access to the top-level support provided by site ground.
Note – I recommend site ground because I have hosted my website with them for a very long time. In between, I did try to use a few cheaper options that ended up ruining my website’s speed and had non-existent support to help me resolve my issues.
Once I had burned my fingers, hands, and every part with other services, I retreated to the site ground, and I can swear by their support and service.
Most importantly, their first year comes with a massive discount and a 30 day money back guarantee (no questions asked).
Yup – You are in luck, my friend.
You are getting an affordable service with a super discount.
All the savings you make here will help you with other parts of starting your business.
How cool is that 🙂
Note – I would advise you to stay away from cheap hosting websites and cheap hosting plans on good websites.
Actually, they all mean the same to me – A cheap hosting website will give you trash hosting that will go down in the middle of the day and an excellent hosting website will provide you with a cheap plan because they want to get the foot in the door.
Do not go with the cheap plan in web hosting. I have made the same mistake for years and have spent countless hours on call with support fixing my hosting space (a job their tech team should have done).
At the end of the day, a few hundred bucks here and there won’t make much of a difference but a website going down when your customer is on it will substantially dent your reputation.
Now you own hosting space in Siteground.
Feel free to get in touch with any of their support executives for any doubts/queries.
FYI – my IT company’s all websites were hosted on SiteGround for years.
I have stuck to them for years because of all the reasons I mentioned above.
I have used their competitors in the past, and despite paying more than what I am paying them, I have never received what we business owners refer to as – “value for money.”
Before I move to the next section, let me repeat what I earlier mentioned ‘New users, please register your account before proceeding.’
No website wants to give its best deals, offers, and services to unregistered users.
The same holds true for SiteGround 🙂
Again, here is the link to register as a new user: Register on Siteground.
Hurray! You, my good mate, now have bought your business an expensive yet affordable house on the internet.
Pat yourself in the back and open the b….ly.
Humm – Let’s take a break from bubbly because I am known to get drunk very soon and let my unnatural senses take over.
We can do the ‘celebration dance and move to the next section.’
Almost there - Setting up a Website!
Gone are the days when you would spend a fortune hiring a designer and a developer to set up a website for you.
It is the era of “using ready to use templates.”
Templates that provide you with the flexibility to set up your website.
Let me take it a step further – we are living in an age where layman non-techie guys like you and me can design our websites without knowing an “iota of coding.”
Website design is as simple as drag and drop.
How do you do that?
There are hundreds of DIY editors in WordPress that allow you to do this (Divi, elementor, beaver, wp baker, to name a few).
I was a big fan of DIVI and used it for a good 5 years.
Recently, I shifted to Elementor and designed the new “lesson at startup” website using Elementor.
What gave them an edge over Divi and other competitors?
To start with – they have built a system that does not slow down your website.
As per one of the WordPress developers I have consulted in the past, Elementor does not come with any junk code in WordPress and keeps the WordPress structure – intact.
WordPress is fast and gives you a flexibility that is unheard of in the world of CMSs.
I can literally design my own website using their CMS options or use one of their ready to use templates for individual pages. Add to this, their email opt-ins that allows you to capture leads.
To learn more about Elementor, watch this video:
Time to say Good-Bye to your Web designer and Developer!
Register on Elementor and get started with a life where you take control of your web presence.
As soon as you click on the Registration link (mentioned above), you are directed to the following page:
Time to complete the Registration and become a part of the Elementor family.
We are almost there – A couple of more options to select
Click on “yes, I sure do’.
All you got to do now is ‘enter domain name’ and Elementor with be installed on your website. You can easily buy Elementor for an annual cost of $49 (I think it’s a bargain to get Elementor at this price. The options they provide you at this cost is every bit worth for money)
Once you buy Elementor, they are easy to use tutorials will help you setup Elementor on a WordPress hosting, and you can get rolling with a website that matches your taste/style and business niche.
Step 2: Taking control of your Social Media Presence
Alright – we are now getting social!
Your Business Needs to provide regular updates about your services and upgrades.
To do that, you need to set up a social media account.
You can quickly go to any of the social media accounts and set up a social media account.
I won’t dwell on the details of how to set up a social media account. However, I will provide you tips on how to “optimally” setup your Business’s social media presence:
- Start by selecting the best 2 social media accounts that resonate with your Business. Do not set up accounts on every social media account for the simple reason that you will not be able to keep up with the intensity of posting daily updates.
- Plan content for social media for at least weeks in advance.
- Lastly, focus on user interactions and not the vanity numbers like “page followers.”
- To save your self some time and automate your social media strategy, use a social media tool like “PromoRepublic”
“PromoRepublic” is one of the rare finds from last year for me.
Their Tool had scheduling features and more than 1000 content ideas that can quickly help you edit and create content yourself.
Their content section has:
- Motivation ideas
- Upcoming events
- Animated Video
Most importantly – the tool is fun to use.
They even have gifs that you can add to your posts (Instagram lovers will drool over your posts):
I am going to take you through – how PromoRepublic can put your social media campaign on steroids.
To get started – Register on PromoRepublic!
Click on “Start a Trial” button.
You can Create your free account by filling the form or you can get started by using your Facebook Account.
On completion of Registration, you are routed to the Dashboard – A place where all the social media magic happens for your business.
To get started, click on the ‘+ icon’, as shown in the image below:
Time to connect all your social media channels.
Let’s create our first post – click on ‘create post’ button to create your first post.
Here you can select connected social media accounts.
The amazing PostRepublic allows you to schedule all the posts for the future.
By using the service, You are saving yourself from the agony of waking up every day in the morning and finding something to post.
If you run out of ideas, just select the post ideas options.
And that is a quick tutorial on getting hold of your social media account.
Step 3: Linking Email ids linked to your Business Domain Name
Every Business needs an “official id.” You obviously would not want to send an email to your client or investor from a casual Gmail id that reads like email@example.com.
Now, most of the email service providers given for free by your hosting companies are pretty bad.
Yup – I am talking about round mail, horde mail, and squirrel mail. All the three mailing services that are offered by all the free hosting service.
To save money, I used them for the initial years of my entrepreneurship.
They were fine (I won’t use the hate word 😊) until they served their purpose, which was sending emails and checking emails once in a while.
Yes – I am talking about 12 years back when the internet was just spreading across the globe, and most of the work still happened on paper, but if you ask me to use them today.
Sorry Mate! I cannot use them because their interface is terrible; they do not have a mobile app, and worst of all – they do a half-assed job.
I am looking for a collaborative productivity app, not an app that takes more time from my diary for simple tasks like sending an email.
I recommend – Google Workspace for Email service and better collaboration + Productivity:
Now, getting back to why I recommend Google Workspace.
Grow your business with Google Workspace – try it free for 14 days. Professional email for your business (firstname.lastname@example.org), secure file storage and sharing, real-time document collaboration, 24/7 support.
- The friendly Gmail interface is integrated into your domain name. Imagine sending an email from your official id (email@example.com) using the Gmail interface.
- The google hangout experience is fantastic and addictive 😊. What better than having all your staff and team members on the same chat. You have everyone from your company on a chat system accessible from the left side of your email. Now, how cool is that.
- Google Calendar to schedule meetings.
- Google Drive to store all your relevant documents and presentations.
- Last but not least – the online google tools to handle spreadsheets, docs, and presentations.
Combine them all and Add to all the features – the admin panel to manage your employees’ access level, and you have a set of tools that help you run your business smartly.
And that brings us to the end of a long yet relevant section – “how to set up your business’s online presence. “.
The Action list-How to take your Business Online?
Phew! Now that’s one Long Chapter.
I will quickly summarize the whole Step in the form of action points for you:
- Action Point 1 – Set up a Website:
Every Business needs a website, and your business needs it too. Here are the 3 pieces to setting up the website:
- Domain Name or your business’s name on the internet
Find and register your domain name on internet. I recommend GoDaddy for their easy to use service.
- Webhosting: Time to give the house to your domain name on the internet.
Buy a hosting space to host your website. I recommend SiteGround’s services for the same.
- Website Design and Development: You have the name and space.
All you need is a website that you can design yourself (as a non-techie person).
- My recommendation is to use wordpress.
I design my websites using WordPress and manage them myself.
To get stated with wordpress – you can enroll to the 4-hour course on wordpress done by me (please note – you can do it at your own pace).
- The next step is to find a DIY (do It Yourself) editor that lets you design your own website and not rely on web designers and developers.
I highly recommend using Elementor. I use it on Lessons At Startup and it does a commendable job for me.
- Action Point 2: Getting your Social Media Presence up and running.
I have provided all the right tips to optimize your social media presence.
However, if you are a small team that is multi-tasking – I recommend outsourcing your social media work by automating it to Promo republic.
They do a wonderful job of creating, scheduling, and delivering content to your social media accounts regularly at an affordable fee.
- Action Point 3: Time to link your official email id to Gmail and get many more emails.
Yup! Time to make your teams more productive by linking your business with Google Workspace and get their productivity tools including of Gmail, google calendar, google cloud to increase your business’s productivity.