Are you laying the groundwork to launch a new business in the future? Perhaps you’re working at another job and the timing isn’t right to start the new biz, but you want to begin getting things in order. That is smart thinking.

Here’s a question I received today:

“If you want to start a website eventually but want to make sure the name I want is mine. How do I go about doing that?”

Short Answer (but, please keep reading)

If you want to simply purchase a domain name, you can go to any of the major domain registrars, also known as domain name hosts, to secure your domain name. You will “own” that domain name for the time period you selected. The minimum is one year and you can select additional years in increments of one year. I recommend purchasing the name for 3-5 years, assuming you’re going to put your “all” into the business to make it work.

During the check-out process, you will be presented with many offers that can be confusing!

The up-sell offers typically include:

  • Private Registration: if you do not pay extra for private registration, your name, address, phone number, and mailing address will all be listed in the public WHOIS database. This exposure leads to you receiving tons of junk mail and email offers/spam. I do recommend that you upgrade and buy the private registration fee.
  • You will also receive offers to purchase other extensions, SSL certificate, website hosting package, and email hosting. The companies offer deeper discounts at this time, so depending on where you are in the process of launching your business, you might want to take advantage of these offers. However, I do not recommend doing so without running it by a professional web designer so they can help steer you in the right direction. I’ve seen many people buy things they don’t need.

Some of the most well-known domain name companies are:

Here’s What You Need to Know

  1. Check to see if the .com domain name is available before you do anything else. While there are now dozens of TLD’s available (top level domains – meaning the extension – .com, .net, .co, .org, .coach, .biz, etc.), the majority of people are still used to typing in .com into their browser bar. The cost for these extensions, vary. It can be a real headache if your target audience or current customers are always landing on the wrong (.com) website. Is the other company that owns the .com an established company? Are they competitors? Completely different? Is the domain name for sale? If so, find out how much. Give serious consideration to buying the name now rather than building your website on .net or another extension only to realize that the confusion and loss of traffic has had a negative effect on your sales. If you go back later to buy the name, the price may have doubled.
  2. Check social media channels to see if your biz name is available. This is SO important! I had a client who created her business name and then asked me to buy the domain name on her behalf because I was going to design her website. Before I bought the domain name – which was available, I searched to see if her business name was available on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It had already been taken. What a nightmare. I advised her against using that name. If you can’t secure your domain name and social media channels, you are starting off with some serious branding issues that are hard or more expensive to overcome.
  3. Do a Google search to see who else might be using the name in a different format, Someone might have created a podcast using your name or an ebook. I have also seen where the name a client had chosen has a different connotation.
  4. Check your state’s online list of corporations to see if someone has already created a company using that name. Here’s a link to New York’s Division of Corporations, State Records & UCC.
  5. You’ll want to do steps 1-4 BEFORE you go to the time and expense of filing your legal business papers.

There are so many other things to consider after securing your domain name and social media channels. How to choose website hosting plans, web design platforms, such as WordPress vs Squarespace, e-commerce options, ssl certificates, email providers, and so on, are important aspects to know. I’ll try to cover these in future posts.

Until then, congratulations launching or beginning to plan your new adventure! I’m always here if you need me.