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So you are thinking about starting a business. If so, you need a website. But where to start?
First, you need to secure your name on the internet. In fact, I recommend doing a name search simultaneously on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website and the website registration company, aka “registrar”, of your choice.
There are tons of them out there, but in no particular order, some options include namecheap.com, Google Domains, and domain.com. The goal is to find a name that is available in Oregon and on the internet.
Once you have decided on a name and determined that it is available in Oregon and on the internet, you must register it. Registering a domain name is simple, inexpensive and puts your stake in the ground.
Now that you own a domain name, you are ready to look for a place to put your website.
Generally, this is referred to as the “host.” Some host companies are SiteGround, HostGator, BlueHost and DreamHost. Some hosts offer tools for building your site. Others require that you have some website knowledge. Here, too, choices abound and should be evaluated based on your needs.
There are more than a dozen DIY site builders/hosts such as Squarespace, HubSpot, Gator (HostGator), Weebly and Wix that offer suites of tools for getting you up and running fast. Most of these offer drag-and-drop tools that don’t require any computer code knowledge. But as with all things new, there will be some effort to get to know their systems.
If you are going to have an e-commerce site selling stuff, whether it be physical, digital or even a service, you will have additional considerations. Packaged solutions such as Shopify are very popular. Then there is WordPress, the largest website platform out there powering some 40% of all sites on the internet. Both Shopify and WordPress are self-manageable but have somewhat steeper learning curves.
Cost is a factor when evaluating these options. Some things are “free” but come with restrictions or onsite advertising. Others are low cost and offer plenty of features. Shop around and find the combination that meets your needs.  
Just getting to this point in the article might have you feeling a little overwhelmed.
If that’s the case, you are going to want to find a developer to help you out. It is important to know what you can do yourself and what you must outsource.
If you just don’t have the energy for this kind of work, find a partner. Just know that you will be paying for their expertise and it may cost $2,000 to $10,000 to get set up and another $200 to $500 a month for maintenance.
Every situation is unique so just use this as a starting point. Factor these expenses into your business plan and budget. You do have a business plan and budget, right? If not, come see us at the SBDC and we can help with those, too.
Jim Parks is a business adviser at the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center. The Small Business Adviser column is produced by the center. Questions can be submitted to [email protected] or call (503) 399-5088.

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