Every year I counsel dozens of people who are putting their toe in the water of business ownership. Many of them are months or even a year or two into giving part-time effort to an idea or service that they believe has the potential of becoming a thriving business.
But it soon becomes apparent that they do not yet understand one of the cardinal principles of marketing — especially for startups: Do everything you can to build credibility early. Without credibility in the eyes of potential customers, you will never gain enough buyers or clients to make your business a going concern.
Your Business Card Should Build Credibility
How do I know that these people do not yet fully grasp the cardinal rule of credibility-building?
First, because they hand me a business card printed on an ink jet printer using relatively light-weight card stock bought in sheets of eight cards per page at an office supply store.
Both the weight of the card and the quality of the printing shout, "Not a professional operation!"
The second give-away is when I look at the email address on the business card and see that its a Gmail, HotMail, or Yahoo address. What? No web site? No domain name with a personal email address?
Again the words shout out, "Not a professional operation!" And they also shout out, "Rookie! Brand new to the business, with no track record!"
A Domain Name Says You Mean Business
When I ask these aspiring entrepreneurs why they have not yet secured a web domain name, I usually get one of two answers. Either getting a web domain is too much money. Or they are not yet ready to bring up a web site.
But the truth is, securing a domain name costs less than having a box of business cards professionally printed, even if you use one of the higher-priced domain vendors.
Second, you don't have to be ready to bring up a web site in order to own a domain name. An vendor who sells you a domain name will allow you to "park it" at no cost until you are ready to use it. But in the meantime, usually for less than a dollar per month, you can have an email address on that domain.
In the background, at the level of the technology itself, email account management is a completely different system from web site management. The same internet hosting service provides both. But you are free to use either service without using the other.
Having a domain name thus lets you have a more professional sounding — and credibility-building — email address. This email address, in turn, sends a message that you really mean business, that you're serious about your undertaking. A Gmail, HotMail, or Yahoo address says of your business venture, "I'm not real sure this will go."
Domain Age Builds Credibility with Search Engines
In addition, securing a domain name early has a hidden benefit that most people are unaware of. When you do launch your web site, there will be a distinct advantage if you have owned that domain name for quite a while. One of the factors that Google takes into account in determining how to rank a site is the age of the domain. I have domains that rank fairly well primarily on the basis of the fact that I have used them continuously for over twelve years.
So don't keep making excuses. Find that domain name today. Then create an email account for yourself using that domain.