Usually I post 'how to' articles on things I come across when working with clients hoping it will help others save some time. Sometimes I even post articles on how to use new aspects of social media like Snapchat features. This article is kind of a 'how to' as well, but not in the sense of a step by step walk through. I've seen many new businesses make these mistakes and I've even helped clients of mine who are the competitors of these business capitalize on the mistakes. I always pass this information along to clients of mine and now I'm writing this to point the blame at these businesses making the mistakes and hopefully prevent others from making the same ones.
Starting A Business
When starting a business, regardless of what it is there are certain steps you should take. It doesn't matter what kind of business it is, whether a consulting company, a band, or something else, the steps will be the same. First thing you really need to do is choose a name since you're going to need a name to register the business. Part of choosing a name should be researching domains and social media handles or usernames.
There's a lot more to choosing a domain then simply finding some iteration of your business name to use in front of a .com or a .ca extension. It should be simple for anyone to remember and easy for them to spell. That being said, if you choose a business name that is fairly generic, finding a domain won't be an easy task. This is something to ponder while going through the name selection process. Choose a name, check domains, if there isn't anything that catches your eye go through different versions of the business name you selected. Put together a list of 10 or so, prioritize them, go through domains and check availability. Although you may not get the #1 choice for your business name because of domain availability, weigh the pros and cons. Does getting your #1 choice outweigh a domain name that would get more exposure due to simplicity? In the end, it's your choice. I'm not telling you one is right and the other wrong, but it's definitely something you should consider.
Whichever you decide, a domain name is a necessity in these times. I could go through the whole talk saying, "People will search Google before anything to find a business.", and so on and so forth, but I won't. I could say, "You should have a domain to setup for email addresses to look professional in your correspondence.", but I won't. Alright, I just did. I said it. It's true!
Here lies the mistake. If you start a business and don't purchase your domain, especially if it's available, someone else will. And there is a very good chance this someone else will be your competition. Why wouldn't they? Tactically, it gives the competition a great advantage. If you overlook this detail, and someone else gets hands on your domain, there is no one else to blame but yourself. You planned your business and you misstepped. For shame!
Social Media Handles/Usernames
Next chapter. At the same time that you procure your domain you should also snap up your social media handles or usernames. If you can, try to use one that you can get on all social media networks. If they match, it's extremely easy for potential customers or even existing customers to find you on other networks. If you can make this match your domain, even better! Just don't make the mistake of waiting too long to get them. With that being said, you will have to wait a little bit of time when it comes to a Facebook page. You can only choose your username for a page once you have enough likes. Invite everyone you know and get there as quick as you can. I think the number is something like 100 likes now. Not a whole lot more to explain unless you want me to repeat a lot of what we discussed above.
This is currently going on with a client of mine and their competition. My client has been planning their business for quite some time now, and during that time a similar business, although not direct competition, popped up. They really came out of no where and in all honestly you can tell it was rushed. Among many other things, they made the mistake I discussed above. I'll come back to this.
My client and I went through the process above. We weighed the pros and cons, and discussed business registration, etc. The business name they chose, was already taken by a few different businesses elsewhere. This meant the simple domain in both .ca and .com form was taken. The name has to stay, it's been decided. So what should we do for the domain? Airport codes seem to be on the rise in popularity, so let's throw YXE on the end. Perfect! It's done. It's decided. The domains for the client are in place now, long before they open. They can now setup email and put up a temporary coming soon website with information on opening date and social media links. Let's start building this brand now. Let's start moving this domain and website up the search engines so by the time the business opens, we have a lot less work to do for exposure in searches.
Alright, back to the fun stuff. We purchased the competition's domains. Yes. We discussed it. We did it. There is a time and place for these acts and this was one of them. In the design and development industry around Saskatchewan, we're all friends for the most part. If we're extremely busy, we pass pieces of projects, if not whole projects to others that may have some time to spare. It always comes full circle. They'll get busy and we'll help them out. I wouldn't even think of purchasing any of their domains because of our relationship. I respect them because they are hard working, honest people of which I now call friends. But, when a business opens and you reach out to work together and they ignore you, then start trying to steal your potential clients, and you catch wind of them speaking ill of you and your business... by all means. All of this could have been avoided if they weren't so threatened by healthy competition. I don't frown upon buying the domains of competition. I think of it more as a learning experience. What did the competition learn? They messed up. Are they going to complain and call you names? Probably. Are you going to worry about it? You shouldn't. Some people may consider this cutthroat and I don't disagree. If you work things out and become friends later on, you can always give the domains back as a birthday present. Happy one year anniversary of being open, here's your domain back.
What I find extremely funny and why I chose to write this, the competition of this client just found out about the loss of their domain. I have been following the thread of comments on their Facebook page. The name calling, the threats of violence, it's actually quite funny to read. That being said, there seems to be some people who get it. A few have questioned how it happened, but there doesn't seem to be a reply yet. They are still pointing the blame at everyone else and not the person at fault... themselves.